Castor is a photographer and film-maker who captures surreal and haunting images of abandoned places in his home country of Sweden. We first came to know his work through the video he voluntarily made to accompany Salt Photographs by Brambles. His photographs stir many emotions. It's strange to see the remnants of peoples homes, long abandoned but still largely intact. Pictures hang on the wall, personal belongings remain but are coated with thick layers of dust. They are sad, but magical and romantic too. Other times they're just plain weird.
Since the Brambles video, Castor has helped us with a few different projects - he provided sleeve photographs for Colorlist's Sky Song and Expiration Compositions by The Greatest Hoax. We've also worked with him more recently on the teaser ad for Kryshe's forthcoming album, March Of The Mysterious. Castor is an amazing person to work with - he always goes the extra mile and there's attention to detail and care in all that he does, something you will appreciate immediately in his photographs. A very small selection is shown here with his permission, see the full galleries and discover his work as a writer, director and film-maker at his website, The Work Of Castor.
Castor kindly agreed to answer a few questions about his photography to accompany this post. Questions by Huw Roberts (HR), answers by Castor (C). All photos link to the gallery they're taken from at Castor's site. All links open in the current tab.
HR: What single aspect of urban exploration do you find most appealing?
C: I think it's the feeling you get when you find an old house in the middle of nowhere, maybe with old furniture and belongings still in it. The smells, the emptiness and the silence. You can see the trails of the past, maybe you see it in old photos that are left behind. Photos of kids playing around in that same house. It's melancholic and it hits you in the heart. It's sad and beautiful at the same time. You start wondering what happened and you come up with your own theories in your head based on what you find. When you can dig deeper and find the real answers it gets even more interesting. It's that special feeling you get when you enter something you've found on your own and that you know nothing about.
HR: The otherworldly atmosphere you capture through the lens is magical - do you have to carry a lot of equipment when you're out? Are you lighting scenes and so on or is it all natural?
C: Not so much, I'm using my full format DSLR with 2 analog lenses mostly and that's it. I've narrowed my gear down to what i feel the most comfortable with. Sometimes I shoot on real film as well, my favourite analog camera is a Balda Baldax Robra from the 30's. I only shoot in natural light.
HR: Many of the sites you photograph look like they've been abandoned for decades and yet much of the furniture, décor and household objects remain - I assume these places must therefore be far off the beaten track. Without revealing too much, can you tell us how you find these places?
C: Maps, you can find a lot of great houses on maps online, like Google Maps for example and you can find a lot just driving around on small roads. I find most objects on my own but sometime you'll get a tip from your fellow urbexers.
HR: Many of your galleries are accompanied by historical information, is it difficult to unearth these kinds of details about who lived where, what they did and so on? How important is it to have some historical information regarding the place you're photographing?
C: It's not that important but if the place leaves me with too many questions I'll try to get answers on them. It could be really hard tho, some of the houses has owners you simply can't reach and that could be a dead end. Sometimes the photos I find are enough and they speak for themselves.
HR: What is your favourite location you've found and why?
C: I don't think I've a favourite actually. I loved Hjalmar's and Bertil's houses, because I knew the history behind them when I visited them. I loved walking into the "Coma House" because it's been like it is for 40 years. And I loved some of the other places for different reasons, but I think the three I mentioned are in the top 5.
HR: And what about your favourite object you've come across?
C: I've found a couple of really nice cars, like the Chevrolet Camaro Z28 from the early 70's and an old Volvo P1800. They're somewhere in the top of my list. There's an old framed photo of a priest with a transparent ghost lady in the background that I found lying alone in the attic of an huge farm once. It was probably a double-exposure but still a nice find. Those are some of my favourites.
HR: For the uninitiated and for those of us who don't speak Swedish, can you explain what Sjukt Lokal Lokal-TV is?
C: Haha, well, it's a webseries i've been doing on and off for almost 10 years now. I use old footage from small local tv-stations that I find online and re-edit them. Also, they are mostly from the Swedish talking part of Finland so their dialect invites me to be quite creative with the subtitles.
HR: Browsing the galleries on your site it's clear that music is important to you. Many include a track to listen to while browsing your photographs and you've also made several music videos (including one for Brambles). When you go out, do you have a piece of music in your head or is it more a case of trying to find music with a complementary tone / mood afterwards?
C: In some rare cases I've a specific song that I'd like to use, and that I've in mind when I go out to shoot, but mostly it's something that I find afterwards. Right now I actually have a track from The Greatest Hoax new album in mind for my next urbex adventure.
Sometimes it takes just as much time finding the perfect track for your gallery as it does to edit the photos and write the history. It really has to fit and I work hard to catch what I felt when I visited the house I'm writing about.
HR: What have you been listening to recently?
C: I've not looked up any new stuff since my son arrived actually but I can share my "UrbEx playlist" with some tracks I've already used and others I may use in the future for upcoming posts.
See more at The Work Of Castor