Urbex Photographer Threatened with a 15K Euro Fine and Jail Time After Run In With Authorities


The dangers of urban exploration photography are well-known. However, despite this danger, it’s not often we hear of any big names in Urbex photography having major accidents or run-ins with the law. That changed a bit this week when a photographer who goes by the pseudonym The Other Side shared the story of how he was threatened with serious legal consequences for photographing a partially abandoned French factory.

After a few months of silence, presumably to let the affair blow over a bit, The Other Side took to Facebook a couple of days ago to tell the story of this run-in with the law that almost cost him 15,000 Euro and jail time.

You can read the full story here, but the important part is that, if he or any of the others who were caught photographing this semi-abandoned factory are caught trespassing again in France over the next three years, they’ll be fined 15K Euro and face a possible one year in prison.


While this does serve as a bit of a reminder of the hazards of urban exploration photography, it’s also worth noting this is a rather isolated incident.

The structures that are photographed tend to not only be plastered with “No Trespassing” signs, but even more dangerously, unstable and capable of causing bodily harm — jail time and fines are not your only concern.

Fortunately for The Other Side and his companions, they were only given a warning this time around. And while he did say that these are “the risks we take to give you these beautiful pictures,” he also writes that he will “skip France for a while.”

(via PopPhoto)

Image credits: Urbex photograph by Frens71

  • Mike

    Well that’s stupid. “Partly abandoned”, huh? Where was your brain? If a room in a full house isn’t used- it’s still not your darn property to explore.

  • OtterMatt

    I’m actually pretty much split down the middle on these sorts of things. On the one hand, good urbanex images are freaking amazing, and are some of my favorite types of architecture to see. On the other hand, though, it’s still illegal, so one can hardly /condone/ it in good conscience. I dunno. I guess he can just be happy that he got off with a warning. The town I used to live in would have been great, because if you were from the school I went to, you could get away with a warning in pretty much any situation. The cops loved us because no one from our school ever caused trouble.

  • gochugogi

    I loved doing this in my younger days and spend many a day scaling walls and crawling through tunnels in old military installations, breweries, crumbling victorians, etc. The thing is, it’s no mystery we were trespassing and thus kept a lookout and still had to do a lot of running with frequent pursuits by security, police and park rangers. We often returned home covered in scrapes and bruises. Arrest and fines are pretty much the norm if you got cornered. Some private property owners will actually shoot at you if you mess around in their abandoned digs.

  • slyman

    do people ever consider asking to go into these places to do some photography?

  • fiddlergene

    Oh no, don’t pass on France. Go for it! I need to read a story about how some asshole thinks she’s above the law.

  • jkqwdjkqwejk

    well it´s the LAW.. idiots who think they are outside the law must be punished.
    thought prison for that?? …. when some rapist get only 6 month….

  • bob cooley

    It would never happen – the owners of the building wouldn’t want to assume the liability. Besides, that’s part of the adventure of urban exploration, the forbidden nature of it…

  • nikonian

    The modern world is either fearful or profiting off liability… Asking is almost always a no due to that.

  • Thanh Nguyen

    Because there’s are ‘fans’ that enjoy the photos that these groups/photogs take of abandoned buildings (not sure why). Presumably, there’s some sort of business, chance for money/fame/power (all things Westerners love) in this sort of risky illegal endeavor.

  • Thanh Nguyen

    Obviously, in some parts of the world, property laws are more important than people.

  • Pickle

    Since you don’t seem that familiar with the way Westerners think, I should let you know that Westerners love their property and don’t like trespassers. That’s why it’s ok to shoot anybody who comes to your house without asking in most places. Your property is sacred and is yours.

  • Pickle

    But then they wouldn’t play the victim card on here.

  • yopyop

    (IANAL) French here. Just some details about the law. There is no law against property violation (“violation de propriété”) : the only thing that can happen is being asked to leave the place. BUT one can risk indeed 1year /15000€ in case of “violation de domicile” (home violation). This is why in France it is often said that the risks for urbex are quite low… except if you break into a home.

  • yopyop

    With all due respect Thanh, I think that you really don’t understand anything about the urbex movement.

  • yopyop

    Nobody played the victim here. They just shared their story.

  • Stewart Doyle

    Similar in Scotland. No tresspass law as such, but you can be asked to leave, and if you don’t, the police can be called, and charges brought for whatever the polis thinks they can make stick at the time, usually Breach of the Peace.

    If you actually damage anything on entry, (or while exploring for that matter!) you can be charged with any of the various burglary crimes. My own approach is to only enter places that have doors hanging open, windows missing, etc, because that way there is no scope for accusations of Breaking and Entering. There is no law against just walking or clambering into a place that has clearly been left unsecured and/or abandoned.

    Entering a place that isn’t abandoned however, is just asking for trouble. I would always seek permission for an active site, although in that case what’s the point? It’s not really an abandoned space if there is still activity going on…

    Been stopped by the polis several times, in every case they were friendly, curious, and responding (Curtain twitchers have a lot to answer for in the realms of wasting police time), merely to find out why someone was in the place and making sure I wasn’t there with arsonous intent, and they were happy to let me carry on with a warning not to break or damage anything.

  • Stewart Doyle

    England by any chance? I’ve heard some real horror stories about urbexing down south!

  • BigEnso

    He’s lucky. In the US it is not uncommon to see signs that say “No Trespassing. Trespassers will be shot. Survivors will be shot again.”

  • Bolkey

    Ah, but a factory is not a domicile. I don’t know the specifics of the French law, but in some other European countries the same articles apply to both homes and other properties, but the penalty is heavier in case of home violation (because of intrusion into the private space). The one year/15000 is the maximum penalty which is rarely applied (threats, violence and recidive help to get the full penalty). Anyway, it is to the judge to decide, not top the police. But even if a two weeks sentence is more likely, it is still advisable to think twice indeed.

  • John G.

    Just playing devil’s advocate, but, these photographers are going into potentially dangerous places and risking their safety. The property owners could be liable if somebody is injured — creating a lawsuit nightmare. Plus, if somebody is injured they’re putting rescue workers in a dangerous position.

  • specialgraphics

    Wow thanks for that generalization.

  • slyman

    i mean, i’m sure people could work something out at some of the places. although i guess they wouldn’t want people to get the idea that they could go there.

  • Alex Mullins

    In a world where you could die while getting your mail from the mailbox, I prefer to inject some adventure and enjoy the wonders of this world. Sure that comes with a dose of danger, but I think a certain amount is essential to a well rounded life. Warning: May cause cancer in California.

  • Thanh Nguyen

    And that is why you trespass into a factory with a wing that is not in use, using ‘it’s partially abandoned’ as your rational for trespassing.

    Sounds like if this is acceptable, it should be acceptable for someone to enter your house through a window, and photograph a room that’s not in use, like a guest bedroom, or the attic, because the house is ‘partially abandoned’.

    I mean, you could even reason that some countries are partially abandoned and not being completely utilized, and come in and do stu- Oh hey, Western imperialism.

  • A. Mccormick

    Since when did they claim to be above the law?