“It’s the little things I see that most people don’t. Like the way birds fly backwards, forwards, and fall. How butterflies dance around in the air as if they’re weightless, and how flowers sway organically in the wind. Perhaps I care too much, and dive too deep.” —Thomas Slatin
Thomas Slatin is a master photographer who specializes in adventure photography and urban exploration. In particular, Thomas explores abandoned buildings to record them as they are and to record the history of those buildings. She is also an avid nature lover and photographer of landscapes and wildlife.
Some time ago, I interviewed Thomas about her experiences and achievements in photography. We also talk about one of her all-time favorite abandoned building photoshoot adventures.
Thomas Slatin on Her Photography
Thomas’s photography portfolio is extensive. Her images include adventure photography such as lake and nature photos and urbex photos like old houses with broken glass.
Q: When did you start taking pictures and how long have you been a professional photographer?
A: “I started taking pictures with an SLR film camera around the age of eight, and finally, I have earned the right to call myself not only a published writer but a master photographer.”
Q: Any photos in particular that are your favorites that are posted on your website? What are the stories behind them?
“This was an interesting find; I was driving through the middle of nowhere in Upstate New York, and drove by an abandoned farmstead. Seeing that absolutely nobody lived in the house and that this was literally the only house for miles, I decided to go inside for a closer look. The entire house was empty, and crumbling, though upstairs there was this old chair with a vintage suitcase sitting on top of it. I took this photograph and then drove away.”
“Every now and again, I stumble across something completely unexpected and unusual. This fire truck was found parked and abandoned behind an old amusement park in Vermont. The amusement park itself was on foreclosure and eventually went to auction, and it is rumored to be restored. The current status of the old fire truck is unknown.”
“I took a trip to visit the abandoned iron mining town of Tahawus, New York and photographed the interiors of the last remaining buildings. They were empty, with the exception of this one, which had an old shoe that was left behind. The mine had a very interesting history and eventually closed for good in 1989.”
“This picture of a single tree was taken at John Boyd Thatcher State Park in Upstate New York. I have a fascination with foggy landscapes, especially how fog often presents with a selective view where distant objects are obscured and cannot be seen. The contrast of the tree against the fog was an amazing photograph.”
“Sunset From Cadillac Mountain was taken at 1,529′, on Mount Desert Island in Maine, right as the sun began to set. This represents one of my greatest photographs that went unnoticed and unpublished for many years as I built my photographic skill set.”
“Winter fog over Indian Lake was taken in the wintertime, and I remember that it was extremely cold, and when I took this photograph, I was wearing a sweatshirt. My shivering was so extreme that I had to balance my camera on a metal railing along the road to get this shot.”
“Nothing in life just ‘happens’. Opportunity and goals can only be realized through hard work, determination, love, and blessings of patience.” —Thomas Slatin, Belong
Thomas Slatin’s Visit to the Hotel Adler Spa in Upstate New York
Thomas has visited many abandoned buildings and properties over the years – with permission, of course! Exploring these buildings became her greatest passion for many years. Oftentimes, when she secures permission to explore these buildings, it’s because the property owner hopes that the photos will help to sell the property to someone willing to restore it.
Many times abandoned buildings will contain many objects left behind by previous generations. Sometimes, these buildings will even contain things left behind by former owners, even plates of food!
One of my personal favorite photoshoots in Thomas’ portfolio is her exploration of the Hotel Adler Spa in upstate New York.
Q: For the Hotel Adler, how did you come to photograph the property? What were your favorite parts of the property? How can these photoshoots save historic buildings such as these?
A: “The Hotel Adler Spa was on my to-do list for a very long time, as I was living and working in the area and had passed by the property hundreds of times. Eventually, I was able to locate the owner of the property and send them an email requesting permission to photograph the property. Permission was granted as long as I agreed not to touch or take anything. One afternoon in 2011, I made the short drive to the Adler and, along with my dog at the time, explored the entire hotel.
My favorite part of the hotel were the upper floors of the hotel, which still had most of the furniture in the guest rooms, and most if not all of the beds were still made to accommodate guests. The property included an old bathhouse across the street, which remained mostly intact and had an onsite doctor’s office. The history of the property, along with the items which were left behind made the experience truly memorable and fascinating. The exposure that resulted from the publishing of the photographs created a lot of interest in the preservation of the property, and it has essentially been saved by an investment company that has started much-needed renovations.”
If you have any abandoned properties that you wish to be photographed, contact Thomas Slatin through her website, TomSlatin.com.
Thank you so much to Thomas Slatin for giving us her valuable insights into her photography work. Let’s wish her all the best on her adventures and urban explorations!
“It is society that teaches us to focus upon the end result, the finished product, the pinnacle of completion. Yet we are complacent in the ignorance of our failures, our struggles, our tears, and all the things that lead up to the realization of our end goals.” —Thomas Slatin
Photos used by permission
Related: Thomas Slatin: From Public Servant to Writing Legend | What Makes a Master Photographer?