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People in Focus - Nicholas Gervin Urban explorer & founder of UE Magazine

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: Can you tell us a little about yourself regarding where it all started for you ?

Gerv: I was born and bred in New England, United States. I grew up exploring my urban surroundings, documenting the graffiti art scene with disposable cameras as far back as 1993. I was an avid skateboarder from the age of 10 to the age of 25. Thrashing the streets of Portland and Boston was what I lived for, for what seemed like a lifetime.

I am three years sober, recovered alcoholic and have been struck by four auto mobiles in my lifetime, along with one other major head trauma.

Some may call that bad luck, but I feel darn lucky to still be standing here today.


I made the leap into digital photography around April of 2010, during my recovery from getting assaulted in Boston back in 2008.

I suffered a traumatic head injury from the ass kicking and still deal with Post-Concussion Syndrome everyday.

I have been battling tension headaches, fatigue and visual difficulties among many other health related issues for over three years now.

I explore and take photographs not only for the creative outlet, but also as a means of healing and recovery from my injuries.

I guess you could say that exploring and art in general have been my motivation for a full recovery;healing through creative processing and expression.

Oh yeah, did I mention, I like Drains.


:Which came first for you exploring, photography or some where in the Middle?

Gerv: Exploring came first and is always first, even to this day.

I was what you call a point and shooter for most of my life.

Strictly taken photos to document and not for any creative or artistic outlet.

To me photography is only one part of the many trades I try and master as an explorer.


I also focus on writing reports, researching historical information, producing UE magazine and of course the art of infiltration to name a few.

As I stated above,2010 was when I started taking photography more serious and teaching myself the art of digital and film.

:What's in your camera bag?

Gerv: Well my tripod is covered in human waste and raw sewerage, as I am to busy to clean it off from my last explore.

My current attached lens, the Tokina 11-16mm is jammed full of dirt from falling down an embankment well on the run, but that’s just part of the trade.

Gear comes and go's.

Each time I head out,I set up my bag for that particular explore.

So my camera bag is never the same, except for some wet naps in case I need to take a shit, or clean some shit.

Oh yeah and a few torches.


: Do you have a favourite picture Gerv and could you tell us how you achieved it?

Gerv: I don't really have a favourite picture.

But I almost died just after taking this image.

I was in a tidal CSO and I fell into a shaft filled will sludge like mud.

It was more like quicksand, I started to sink fast.

The more I tried to get out the quicker I sank.

I used my tripod to pull myself out.

It was scary as hell because I was all alone and if I didn't free myself in less than 2 hours I would have drowned as the high tide rolled back in.

Word of advice, never drain alone.


The above photo is a self-portrait, captured with a Nikon D5000 and a basic kit 18-55mm lens. The camera was mounted on a Manfrotto tripod "that saved my life" I used a wireless remote to fire off the long exposure and tried my best to stand still for the duration of the exposure. The photograph was shot in RAW format "always shoot RAW" and processed in ViewNX.

Here's a cell phone photo of my mud covered camera and tripod after freeing myself from that death drain.

Camera still works! In fact I went on to explore a second drain that day. You can read my full report on my site here.



: How did UE MAGAZINE come into being and what are you hopes, dreams and intentions for It.?

Gerv: UE mag was founded by me in 2011, but we did not start printing magazines until 2012.

I have always been a big fan of print.

I've enjoyed printing my own photographs as far back as 1993.

With my roots coming from a graffiti background, I also enjoy many underground zines and books of that nature and I found it strange that there was no magazine still around documenting the UE movement in 2011.


With all the great explorers and photographers from all corners of the world it just seemed silly to me that no one was producing a publication to showcase explorers in print and to document our culture.

Thus I founded UE magazine! Making this magazine has been an adventure in itself.

Everyday I work hard with a few others from my staff and the support of our contributors to push this zine forward.

It's no easy task, but I feel strongly about documenting our subculture.


UE mag is available in print and ships all over the world, right to your doorstep.

It's also available in digital format and you can download it right to your PC or iPad.

I hope more explorers help support the zine by ordering printed copies and by submitting some reports and photographs for our future issues.

We are currently working on issue #5 and are open

for submissions. Please email us at submit@uemag.com

: What would you like to say to the world?

Gerv: I would like to say so much, but for the sake of keeping this explorer related, I will say the following; Thanks to everyone that supports the mag in anyway possible, the ones that ordered a printed issue and the ones that contributed some articles.

The real supporters, not the people that hit the Facebook "LIKE" button and think that’s support haha.

A special thanks to the men and woman that help me put the zine together.

With out my staffs hard work and donated time, this mag would be dead.

On a side note, don't let others get you down, follow your heart and intuition and as Ninjalicious once said " This hobby consists of a lot more than just poking about in abandoned buildings and storm drains and hanging around out on web boards trying to impress people.


Being an urban explorer is a whole way of looking at the world, where every ladder, door, window, grate and hole in the ground is a possible portal to adventure."

Thanks to Nicholas Gervin ( Gerv) for taking the time & sharing a glimpse into his life and world.




Edited by skeleton key

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Guest Scattergun

Well as a drainer you'll find favour with me :) Good to get acquainted mate. I too find motivation in urban photography. I like to think it keeps me sane although some would argue I lost my sanity a long time ago. Anyway that was an interesting read and a clever idea for a thread.

Please keep UE Mag in print! It has plenty of loyal fans, including myself!

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That was a brilliant read, nice to have an insight to see how other people view things, thanks! You will have a new subscriber to your mag and will look forward to reading it!! Thanks again!

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"Being an urban explorer is a whole way of looking at the world, where every ladder, door, window, grate and hole in the ground is a possible portal to adventure."

Thats brilliant.

Thanks Gerv I enjoyed that, and congratulations on being sober job well done all round :D

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