(CNN) – Brett Patman never decided to become a photographer.
He began his career as a trader, working inside some of Australia’s factories, power stations and other industrial sites. But photography has always been his side hobby.
“I bought my camera in 2011 and I didn’t know what to do,” Patman explains. “I was just starting to take photos of the skyline and the city and standard postcard photos that everyone has seen millions of times. I was just thinking a little in my mind, ‘What could be more interesting than this?’ “
It turned out that the answer was hidden in plain sight.
Petman began documenting some of his visits to industrial sites. But it was the out-of-use site that piqued his interest the most – the abandoned breadmill denim factory in Melbourne’s suburb of Yaraville.
He passed through the open section of the fence and began to take pictures. What he didn’t know at the time was that he had set his life on a new path.
Since 2011, Patman has been traveling to abandoned locations across Australia to take photos – not just factories, but hotels, wool sheds, ex-homeless camps and more. Now, that’s his full-time career.
Trips down memory lane
After Petman posted pictures of himself from a closed Wangi power station in New South Wales, the flow of comments turned to flooding.
“There was this flow of workers and families and workers ‘families and brothers and mothers and fathers and everyone would come in and say,’ Oh, look. I was working in that room. I was working in that workshop. Do you remember Bob who Run the store? God, it was hard to deal with, “says Patman.
Boiler of Wangi Power Station, which was shut down in 1986.
Brett Patman / Lost Collective
But positive memories are not everywhere.
One of Patman’s most controversial shootings was at Calvin Park Hospital for the Insane, a former psychiatric institution in the Sydney area. The government commission at the hospital found that there was a widespread culture of abuse.
At an event where Patman was presenting some of his photographs, a woman in the audience spoke up and said her brother was physically abused there and it was not appropriate to take artistic pictures of where a lot of bad things happened.
Patman acknowledges how horrible things happened in Calvin Park, but believes it’s just as important to document the bad.
“I think it’s important to record history,” he says. “If he encourages people who have had a part of that history and have something to say, it’s, for me, worth it.”