Post-apocalypse photographer captures abandoned High River homes

An abandoned Alberta suburb has received some notoriety after a well-known photographer called it the "world's creepiest neighbourhood."

No one lives in Beachwood Estates and many of the high-end homes were auctioned off earlier this year, slated to be moved as the province returns the High River neighbourhood to a flood plain.

Photographer Seph Lawless, best known for photographing post-apocalypse looking American shopping malls and amusement parks, took his camera to High River after hearing about it from Alberta residents during a conference he was speaking at in Banff.

He came across a desolate suburb of high-end homes.

"Unlike other abandoned places that I shot all over the world that look abandoned and forgotten, this was different because it looked like a regular neighbourhood," he told the Calgary Eyeopener.

"It is very intimate, which is usually not the case. Usually the places I go to are a little crass, cold and a little uncompromising. This was a little bit different."

While one shot features a teddy bear in a driveway, Lawless insists it was not staged.

"I shoot what's there and that's it." 

Lawless called Beachwood the "world's creepiest neighbourhood" in an online video.

He defends his words, saying that although the scenery is beautiful, he felt "creeped out" walking alone through the neighbourhood.

"I guess because it looked untouched in a sense, it had a weird vibe to me. Maybe creepy is the wrong word, but in that moment, in that initial walk through — I was by myself — I have to admit, it felt creepy to me."

Part of his duty, Lawless insists, is to call out government and corporations on poor practices and bring about social change.

In the case of Beachwood Estates, Lawless says no one should have been allowed to build on the flood plain in the first place.

"It was never designated under the water act as hazardous or risky. That's a huge problem and I have no problem taking that to the world stage and having people look at this."

With files from the Calgary Eyeopener