Eerie portraits at Eschborn Airfield

A disused airfield about 10km northwest of Frankfurt makes for some unique backgrounds for portrait practice.

I have always wanted to go visit the Eschborn airfield, a disused airfield and hangar literally right behind my office. You would really have to know it is there to find it, as it is nestled inbetween a large green and somewhat forested area. It is amazing that you could go for a walk or run around it and not even know it is there. 

And all that remains today is the hangar itself, some remnants of housing blocks, and quite a few rusty pieces of aircraft equipment outside, including what looks like those low trucks that push and pull airplanes. 

Inside the hangar is whole other world, it has obviously been laying empty for decades and I would suspect that during the summer this place has hosted a few nighttime raves. In fact, it could easily be the backdrop for a future “Blade” movie (remember Wesley Snipes as a Vampire hunter), it has got that kind of vibe to it. 

Once inside you not only see the large expanse of the hangar, but the shell of the place is mixed with graffiti and broken walls and debris. This place doesn’t look like it’s going to collapse any time soon, it was certainly build to last. 

Thankfully my mate Cameron agreed to come along, also a budding photographer, he knows a cool scene when he sees one. He also finally believed me when we arrived and said “yeah, I can see why you wouldn’t want to go here alone”. That being said, the place has a few photographers around it at weekends, it really is something quite unusual. 

I did shoot some infrared shots of the outside, but these are being developed elsewhere and will be part of another post. The plan for the shoot was just walk around and check the place out, seeing if there were any unusual spots to try some more portrait practice - we weren’t disappointed. 

A bit of history

The airfield was built by the Luftwaffe in the early 1940s, then being seized by the Americans and taken over in 1945. It operated until 1992, when there was a large withdrawal of US forces out of Europe after the end of the Cold War. During the 1950s the airfield was closed for operation and the area became "Camp Eschborn", where the Army Engineering Units would be based. So the place has basically been lying empty since 1992, and the original Luftwaffe built hangar remains intact. The place is eerie at best and downright scary at worst. There is not enough money in the world you could pay me to stay there overnight, however it is a photographer's dream and has really interesting backdrops (during the day!). 

So many good backdrops for portraits. Shot on Kodak Tri-X, with my Hasselblad 501c.
Actually this scene was much darker that it looks, I did a relatively long exposure and it really brightened up the scene. Funnily enough other than debris from the building, the place was not really that dirty. But lots and lots of really intricate graffiti everywhere. 
I actually really like this shot, I am trying different angles and expressions for the portrait practice. All good fun!
Part of the main hangar, with some disused trolley that has been there for 25 years. 
I am really happy with how this shot came out, such dark blacks, really very contrasty!
Pity I missed the focus on this one, nice shot of Cameron though, he was delighted to be there (these Aussies are hard as nails I am telling you!).
Probably my favourite photo! It actually nearly scared me to death when I scanned it, then I couldn't stop laughing. Really very funny!
Definitely something out of a Horror film.
One of the many areas with loads of debris, interesting how the place was just abandoned as the troops pulled out. All colour shots are on Kodak Portra 400 by the way. 
View from the top - what a great big hangar. 
Slight shake as taken handheld, but happy with how this shot came out. Makes me laugh that he is smiling and the "wall monster" at the back is less than impressed. 
Very creative bunch these graffiti artists...
One of the many hallways - fascinating to think that 50 years ago this was a bustling airfield with all the supporting infrastructure and activity.
Talk about a scene that would give anyone nightmares. Looks like it could be a Rock CD album cover!
More classic portrait practice. Really impressed these came out so well as all taken handheld and it wasn't that bright. 
I would have made razor sharp focused portraits if I shot all of them with my tripod, which I did have on me, but after a while inside you don't feel like sticking around!

I hope you enjoyed this quite random post, I go to these funky places so you don't have to! I am really happy I had both black & white and colour film, as they both work so well in such a strange environment. The lighting was really good with strong shadows and rays of light for Kodak Tri-X 400, and of course the graffiti made everything really colourful for Kodak Portra 400.

Thanks for stopping by and see you next time!

Neil