If it involves an abandoned building, a dilapidated hotel, a zombie church, or a forsaken theater, Christine Carbone, MBA wants to spend her weekend probing the ruins inside of it. This genre of photography is called urban exploring, or urbex, and according to ExpertPhotograpy.com, is “the art of finding old and abandoned buildings and locations, exploring them, and taking photos as you go. It's exciting, potentially dangerous, legally ambiguous, and a lot of fun.”
“Oh, it’s definitely a rush,” Christine admits.
Christine discovered urbexing without really knowing that it was a “thing.” She grew up near the old Kings Park Psychiatric Center and one day decided to check it out. At first she explored the outside - its vast campus and numerous buildings. But eventually she ventured inside and fell in love with the forgotten hallways, graffiti-infested walls and deserted inventory of the former hospital. Christine thought she was alone in her fascination. “I didn’t realize at the time that there was a whole community of people who were as enchanted with the beauty of the abandoned as I was.” Christine’s interest in urbex quickly morphed from a curiosity to a passion.
A glass cabinet becomes a coffin; a crumbling balcony becomes a perch. She loves climbing atop decomposing mantels, crawling around on mangled beds, and composing images of layered beauty. “Thousands of people travel around the world to photograph these buildings, so I try to put my own twist on it.” Christine’s take on the decaying structures is so unique, she’s become something of a celebrity within the urbex community. Her particular approach to this style of photography involves close up shots and inserting herself, dressed in elegant or stylish garments, within her desolate surroundings. She loves the juxtaposition of the dismal atmosphere alongside the beautiful gowns she collects as props for her art. Her Instagram handle/urbex persona is @seashellspells and she has nearly 7,000 Instagram followers and a book of her original images in the works.
“My stuff is a bit dark, I know, but these sites fascinate me. And my photography allows me to express a different side of myself than what I present to the world on a normal day.” Christine’s normal day involves making sure Northwell patients are happy and well cared-for, and that the practices she supports are running smoothly as an administrator in radiation medicine - another layer to add to the dichotomy against the backdrop of her favorite pastime.
Christine has always had a taste for the macabre. “I was a total Goth as a kid. And I planned to get into forensics as a career.” But her plans changed in college, as they so often do, and Christine wound up in a career where she helps the living instead. “I went in a different direction and I’m glad I did. I can work with people and help them during the week, and I can save the rest for the weekends. It’s a nice balance,” she says with a smile.
*Christine Carbone has an MBA in healthcare administration and has been with Northwell Health for nine years.
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