Talented UrbEx Photographer Killed After Being Swept Away by Floodwaters in Storm Drain

Talented UrbEx Photographer Killed After Being Swept Away by Floodwaters in Storm Drain

A Philadelphia-area photographer was killed on Saturday after she was swept away by floodwaters during heavy storms passing through the city.

Rebecca Bunting, a talented urbex photographer, was in a storm drain near Roosevelt Boulevard with her boyfriend on Saturday night, when a sudden rush of water swept both into the creek around 6 p.m. Bunting's boyfriend was able to make it out of the water, which was up to 10 feet deep in places, but Bunting was swept away. A neighbor called 911 when he he heard him screaming for help. Police began a search Saturday evening, but had to call it off overnight as the storms made the area dangerous.

Bunting's body was eventually found around 10:45 a.m. Sunday near the Frankford Avenue Bridge, about a mile downstream, though police say she likely died as soon as she was swept into the creek. They believe Bunting was taking photos in the storm drain at the time. Friends remember her as a talented photographer and a "beautiful person" who "lit up" a room. It's a sad reminder to be extremely careful when choosing photo locations and to never put yourself in harm's way or a situation with no escape.

Lead image of Pennypack Creek by Wikipedia user Coemgenus, used under Public Domain.

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14 Comments

Spy Black's picture

I feel sorry for her family.

So was it an attempt at "urbex" photography to be where she was? It's not clear exactly if this was an outdoor or indoor location, and whether or not it was off-limits.

Since when is this "urbex" a thing? Throughout the course of my photographic life I can say I've done endless "urbex" shoots, nobody ever called it that however, and more often than not I simply happened to find myself in a location one might consider "urbex". All of a sudden this is a "thing"? If so, are people deliberately putting themselves in potential harm's way just to get "the shot"? If so this is not too intelligently thought out a photographic endeavor, like people who photograph models on train tracks, or walk along the edge of the top of a multi-story building "just because". There are potentially negative consequences to such activity.

Yes urbexing is a thing. You must be living under a rock.

Probably not. Just how familiar are you with the visual differences in CASE/IH vs Deere farm equipment? Easy for some of us to see it - just as you think it is easy in your location.
Different locations - different experiences. No rocks involved.

What would you say if someone called your comment a “not too intelligently thought out comment endeavor”?
Just google “urbex” or go to Wikipedia https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Urban_exploration and find out urbex has been “a thing” for over a decade.
And yes, there might be potentially negative consequences to this genre of photography like many other genres of photography (war, wildlife, rock-climbing, rallying, etc.) even with good preparation. Most people die at home so cat-photography might be a high risk photographic genre too.

I agree urbex is a thing but many are not familiar with the wordification of the phrase.

Spy Black's picture

Yeah, sorry I didn't know that a segment of street photography had been hijacked by hipsters who think they're cool by trying to redefine it. I'm just not that cool and simply have too much common sense. My apologies...

Urbex doesn't have very much in common with street photography, or hipsters. Either you're intentionally misunderstanding what it is (despite multiple explanations), or you're shockingly dense.

Spy Black's picture

"Urbex doesn't have very much in common with street photography..."

Possibly not to you, but you have to understand there was a time when stuff like this had no sub-genre as apparently it does now, hence my asking. I myself have done stuff like this in my life, but I never needed to give it a name, and I didn't deliberately endanger my life in the process of trying to get "the shot".

But OK, I get it, fine. However someone tried to compare the dangers of Urbex to war and wildlife photography. Sorry, but you can't, because with the possible exception pf one or two loonies, they don't deliberately endanger their lives for the sake of "the shot". They are working with standards and protocols to minimize endangering their lives. They are also typically on assignment, even if they are freelancers. No professional photographer ever decided to put himself unauthorized into a battlefield, or ran up to a pack of lions, for the sake of grabbing "the shot". I guess by definition, any photographer who grew up in, say, the South Bronx in the 70s was an Urbex photographer and didn't even know it. :-)

That said, I get the allure of this type of photography, and I can understand it. Her work for example is lovely. I also understand that youth is willing to take risks that older people do not. But you need to have a little common sense to draw the line between "the shot" and your life. Really.

stir photos's picture

they're just not tryin' to hear wut ur saying, but yeah, i get it... i checked out her work, and yup, to ur point, it's good stuff. in fact, street photography came to mind for me to, in no small part from the wiki definition, i'm sure, cos i wasn't crystal clear of the genre...

there's this dude i came across a few years back, on 500px, out of detroit, http://www.hourdetroit.com/Hour-Detroit/December-2015/At-Street-Level/ that came to mind immediately for me and probably what defined the term most mentally when i initially read it.

anyways, my point is that in los angeles, if one were go out and look for similar shots, you'd be putting yourself at risk for sure. there's a reason for the joke about USC students having to dodge bullets on the way to class... as interesting and cool as dilapidated, uninhabited, empty, or otherwise rundown urban environments might be, use caution.

even using caution won't guard against unforeseen, random dangerous situations. so how dumb would it be to simply throw caution to the wind... at that point, someone's calculated risk ratio is shit. haha....

Spy Black's picture

Yeah no worries, just let the rants go on...

“However someone tried to compare the dangers of Urbex to war and wildlife photography. Sorry, but you can't, because with the possible exception pf one or two loonies, they don't deliberately endanger their lives for the sake of "the shot".”

I did, and I can.
Does the above sentence mean that you think urbex photographers do deliberately endanger their lives for the sake of the shot? I don’t think so.

“I also understand that youth is willing to take risks that older people do not. But you need to have a little common sense to draw the line between "the shot" and your life. Really.”

On his website Joel Sartore says: “All National Geographic photographers have close calls, and most have gotten hurt or sick in the field.”
Joel is 55 by the way, so he would be in the group “older people”.
https://www.joelsartore.com/about-joel/common-questions/how-many-times-h...

“No professional photographer ever decided to put himself unauthorized into a battlefield”

Authorized by who or what?
There are a lot of citizen journalists and media activists these days in war zones, they take pictures, shoot videos and report about daily life. Just take a look at the list of journalists killed in the Syrian civil war that contains over a hundred journalists so far.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_journalists_killed_during_the_Syri...
Or read something about the young local photographers who choose to stay and document what’s happening there.
http://www.abc.net.au/news/2016-10-22/photographers-risking-their-lives-...

Photographers with some common sense (you claim to have too much of it, whatever that means) try to minimize the risks they take, but depending on where you are and what sort of photography you do there is always some risk left.

Urbex simply stands for "urban exploration". It's not a thing in photography specifically, but it's an activity many people have undertaken in the past. I'm not sure how old the term is, but probably at least 20 years old. I'm hear of it for the first time in the early 2000s. The goal is not to put yourself in danger, but to visit places that few people get to see. A lot of it happens in abandoned buildings. Some of it happens in technical conduits, locked off areas and buildings that are still in use. It's up to each person to choose if they'll go somewhere where they aren't authorized to go, and how much risk they are willing to take, depending on their skill level too.

It doesn't seem like those two were doing anything illegal, but anywhere with water is risky, especially flood drains. It really sucks for them, and her family and boyfriend must be devastated.

Her photography is here from the look of things: https://www.instagram.com/_bword/

Truly inspiring portfolio. Such a sad loss.