Ruins entrepreneur Jesse Welter leads paying gawkers on tours of abandoned sites in Detroit, telling the adventurers as they squeeze into a rundown structure on Park Avenue, "Look like you belong here."
Welter, 42, of Royal Oak hosts urban exploring tours for photographers, according to a Free Press story by Emma Ockerman:
Welter has been doing so since 2011, charging $50-$70 per tour. As a photographer himself, he’s able to provide advice on composition and exposure. As a veteran explorer, he’s able to give safety advice to anyone who RSVP’s to his Motor City Photography Workshops on Meetup.com.
Welter said he has taken hundreds of people into vacant buildings, from locals to tourists from California and England to see things he likes to photograph, like an old piano he once found.
“People are surprised,” Welter said. “It looks like a bomb went off here.”
“There are more people that appreciate these buildings than don’t. Exploring it is one of my favorite parts, I just want to see it while it’s still here.”
Welter says he has had only one encounter with police, who gave him a $225 ticket.
"Do any of you have even an inkling as to how hazardous this is? . . . For someone to run a commercial enterprise giving tours for money, they are at risk of negligence and even criminal negligence if somebody gets hurt or killed," posts Frank Kalinski of Clawson. Readers who don't appreciate his profiteering speak out on the paper's Facebook page.
Among the comments there and under the original article:
- I'm tired of "ruin porn." Enough already.
- We were arrested taking pictures of the city's porn.
- This guy charges money to take people to dumpy places.
- This is the lamest thing I've ever heard of.
- Why is this even considered news!?
- Zzzzzzzz... ruin porn is no longer art. It's cliche. BORING!!!
- Very glad Detroit could provide some stimulating and scary experiences for the suburban tourists.
- The story shouldn't be about if decay is beautiful or not. Rather is it moral for him to charge money to see something he doesn't own? Do his tourist know about the dangers they are agreeing too (asbestos, trespassing fines, unstable buildings, potential crime)? . . . What he is doing is wrong. He's basically raping abandoned Detroit and making money while doing so.
- Holy Sweet Mother of the Christ! Do any of you have even an inkling as to how hazardous this is? Floors, walls and ceilings could give way at any time. . . . Hazardous materials are most likely on these sites too -- at least lead and asbestos. For someone to run a commercial enterprise giving tours for money they are at risk of negligence and even criminal negligence if somebody gets hurt or killed.
-- Alan Stamm