Over the course of the last eight years, Christian Richter has visited and photographed more than a thousand abandoned buildings in countries including Germany, France, Italy and Poland.
His journey has taken him to ancient churches, cinemas, theatres, factories, tenements and noble dwellings in search of their very soul, free to emerge precisely because man has abandoned them to rack and ruin, making way for a purely poetic dimension utterly devoid of functional and social purpose.
Richter began photographing abandoned places after the fall of the Berlin Wall, when whole areas of the GDR – where he was born and where he grew up – were emptied of people and activities or underwent swingeing change.
Discovering the secret histories of these spaces – at exactly the magical point when nature and ruins are beginning to take the upper hand, but aren’t yet past their best – has become something of an obsession for the photographer, in a bid to encapsulate this melancholy beauty before it is gone for ever. Richter says this about his research: “I have to go to a lot of places with my camera -Canon D5 mostly with a wide angle 16-35 mm by the way - to get one good image or find something that excites me - many of them are just empty and not particularly beautiful. I've travelled long distances to see a building and then found it's been torn down, or I simply couldn't get in. Sometimes I can tell there might be something special inside, but it's more like a game of chance - maybe I'll find something, maybe I won't. […] These places aren't graves, they're secret histories, waiting to be read”.
Richter has decided never to reveal the locations of his photos so as to protect these places as much as possible from human encroachment. His complete portfolio can be viewed here: https://500px.com/christianrichter and on Instagram: www.instagram.com/richterchristian