New Year’s Eve day I returned to the abandoned Bethel Milling Co. to photograph the antique Fairbanks-Morse platform scale which had caught my eye during my previous visit. While photographing I was approached by Mr. Eaves, who turned out to be the owner. It also turned out Bethel Milling Co. was not quite abandoned.
Assuming I was up to no good, Mr. Eaves’s was at first a little miffed. Seeing my tripod and camera, and sharing some shots from my first visit, he quickly understood I meant no harm. “It’s not a problem, I just wished you had asked first” he politely mentioned. I agreed and apologized, mentioning I had assumed the facility was abandoned. “Nope,” he said, “I produce feed almost every day.” He went on to share his father had took ownership of the mill in the early 50’s. I also got a tour of the facility and was invited to come back. I plan to shoot some interiors later this spring, and will call first.
I did feel bad for not asking. While researching the building after my first shoot, I did find a number, but neglected to call before my second visit. There are inherent risks in urbex photography. Other than personal injury from environmental hazards, the consequences of potential trespassing are also a concern. I do believe it’s best to first make an effort to ask permission, and if you can’t find someone to ask, then proceed carefully. Going in after you’ve been given an explicit no is not work the risk.