Jump to content
skeleton key

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

Recommended Posts


: 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 [email protected]

: 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

Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites
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!

Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites

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!

Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites

"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

Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now

  • Similar Content

    • By silverainbow
      Another one of those Ive been meaning to do for ages, Its normally one of those that people do early on in their explore career but I didnt for some reason, the time never felt right , Visited With Ms Penfold, A little history can be found via this link http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dover_Western_HeightsAnd so for a few PicsThanks for taking the time to look
    • By Urbex Ninja
      Part of the South Foreland Battery, these gun magazines are probably the most obvious on the site. They would've held ammunition for Number 2 and 3 guns further down. We also tried out Wire Wool for the first time here.

    • By Steffi
      Hi fellow urban explorers! I'm currently studying Tourism management on the University of applied sciences Inholland in Amsterdam. For my thesis I am doing a research about the motivations of urban exploring and if urban exploring can be linked to the concept of dark tourism.
      In order to know what the motivations of Urban explorers are I have made a questionnaire and have to get 380 responses. So far it is not going great and barely get people to fill in the questionnaire. So i'm asking you guys if you could fill in the questionnaire for me. The questionnaire itself takes not more than 5 minutes, and I'd really appreciate and be very thankful if you would take a moment and fill it in!( the questionnaire is 100% anonymous and the answers will only be used for my thesis)
    • By obscureserenity
      Mineral Springs Bath House
      The construction of the Mineral Springs Bath House  began in 1907. This was in order to bring in more tourism and wealth into the area. The town it was built in was an excellent location to host a bath house, as it was well known for it's rich mineral water sources which was believed to have medicinal properties. During the start of the 20th century mineral baths were a very fashionable and popular leisure activity. It took 3 years to build, with the help of local residents and neighbouring villages. It was finally unveiled with a ceremony in 1911.

      The materials which were used for the interior were designed in Vienna, France and Belgium and it was the most expensive healing bath in Bulgaria at that current time. Typical to most bath houses, it was separated into two sections, one for the men and another for the women. Both areas accommodated for it's visitors with a large circular pool, changing rooms and 10 bathtubs. The baths also provided central heating facilities, the main parts of the building were kept consistently at 15°C, the changing rooms at 28°C and the baths themselves were 32°C. The bath house was also equip with a clinic, admin offices and a large laundry room.

      Sadly the Mineral Springs Baths eventually closed in 2001, due to the decline in interest and popularity along with the lack of investment by the local government.
      As always, visited with @darbians on a long weekend trip to Bulgaria. We were both feeling pretty optimistic once we'd seen the grand looking exterior on arrival and fortunately the interior certainly lived up to our expectations.















      If you've got this far, thanks for reading 
    • By oldskool
      This place is been on my to do list since i first saw photos of it some years back , in my mind no photo or video footage can do it any kind of justice ,you have to see with your own eyes to take in the vastness and extreme detail of the 400 year old building....Gaining access was no joke at midnight recce to check access was a must then park up just outside the city for a few hours sleep in the car or shall i say try to sleep with the Critical NOISE Machine aka Critical Mass Snorer ..........Ok skip forward to 5am checking out the city streets looking for any sign of activity ....all clear so we made out move and gained entry made our way to the main floor and sat it out till day break ....i looked for history online but wasnt able to find any but Fritz managed to get me some from a Dutch site the translation isnt 100% so bare with it .....1.
      The Fair in the Belgian city of Antwerp is located in the Twelve Months Street, a smallside street of the Meir. The current building is a reconstruction from 1872. The original building, "the mother of all fairs, dated from 1531. This building is not to be confused with the Old Exchange in the Hofstraat.The trade is in a late Brabant Gothic style by Joseph Schadde, after the fire in 1858 the fair in the ashes. Twice in the history of the stock market burned down in 1583 and in 1858.2.From the end of the fifteenth century, the importance of Bruges as an international huboff. After 1531 Antwerp took the role as a trading center of Brugge. Since the market wasdominated by Spanish and Portuguese. Beursplein in Antwerp was a rectangular square with four sides covered galleries, with regulations as in Bruges, as well as opening andclosing times.3.The Bourse of Antwerp is perhaps designed to preview the Bruges Beursplein: a public place in the open air with some canopies where one could hide. The design of the new exhibition refers to here. It is built on top of an existing street intersection in the planoriginally had no roof.4.On the initiative of Thomas Gresham, the representative of the British Crown in Antwerp,in 1565 the London Stock Exchange opened on the model of this square. It was also "thebourse", and to Queen Elizabeth after a visit on January 23, 1570 decided that the Royal Exchange had to be. [1] The Stock Exchange of Rotterdam was established by decision of the town council "to ordain a bruised or too Plaetse, daer the coop heure meetingordinary people were allowed to have been "dated January 30, 15955.
      , Amsterdamfollowed 1611.Currently the trade is deserted and neglected, when the real estate company Breevastwith the renovation of this listed building will begin is not yet clear. is a subdivision of the municipality of Beveren in the Flemish province of Oost-Vlaanderen. It is located near the river the Scheldt, in a polder of the Waasland.To the north of Doel one can find the Electrabel-owned Nuclear Plant Doel with 4 reactors with a total output of 2,8 GW delivering electricity to customers in Belgium, the Netherlands and Germany.Doel is threatened with complete demolition due to the future enlargement of the harbour of Antwerp. This has seen many people having to sell their homes to the development corporation of that enlargement. Many historical buildings that will be destroyed.Visited with Critical Mass & Host14. for looking Oldskool..........