9 haunting photos of nature reclaiming forgotten structures.

Photographer Rebecca Skinner has made a career by going places most people have forgotten.

She says she grew up on a farm and was always fascinated with inspecting the old cars her dad left sitting out in the yard or creeping around the old falling down barn.

As she got older, she ventured farther and farther into the unknown. She learned to work a camera, and she'd take it with her as she explored old factories, burned buildings, shut-down schools. Pretty much anywhere she knew she'd be alone.


"It's quiet. There's no people around," she says. "It's totally a different world, really, when you go into some of these places."

Some of Skinner's favorite moments are when she finds little bits of nature slowly overcoming these forgotten man-made structures.

A flower pushing through a crack in some stone. A tree in the middle of a closed-up factory.

"It's kind of sad," she says. "Some of these places are so beautiful and to see them getting taken over and falling apart is sad."

But maybe it's a sort of new life for many of these places, destined to be demolished or slowly decay. Instead, they find a new purpose and become beautiful again, though in a different way.

Here are some of Skinner's all-time favorite shots.

1. Small trees reach for sunlight inside an old school.

All photos by Rebecca Skinner, used with permission.

2. Water pools and overcomes the inside of this factory.

3. This truck loses what looks to have been a very long battle with some thick brush.

4. An overturned vehicle shelters a small tree.

5. Plant life bursts from the seams of an old carseat back.

6. Small ferns push through a pile of broken china.

7. Moss creeps its way slowly across this abandoned room.

8. Vines sprout through a broken factory window.

9. A chair sits, soon to be swallowed up by new life.

Skinner says the first time she ever photographed an abandoned house, a man with a shotgun showed up out of nowhere, asking what she was doing there.

(He was nice once she explained why she was there.)

Another time, while exploring an old river mill, she nearly stepped through a hole in the floor that would have dunked her into the river below.

Needless to say, it's dangerous work. But Skinner thinks it's important to photograph these places, these moments, before they're gone for good.

"These places are going so quickly," she says. "Every time I see some place I want to photograph, it might be gone the next time."

If her photos prove anything, it's that the world will always keep spinning and that the resiliency of Mother Nature is absolutely beautiful to behold.

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If the past year has taught us nothing else, it's that sending love out into the world through selfless acts of kindness can have a positive ripple effect on people and communities. People all over the United States seemed to have gotten the message — 71% of those surveyed by the World Giving Index helped a stranger in need in 2020. A nonprofit survey found 90% helped others by running errands, calling, texting and sending care packages. Many people needed a boost last year in one way or another and obliging good neighbors heeded the call over and over again — and continue to make a positive impact through their actions in this new year.

Upworthy and P&G Good Everyday wanted to help keep kindness going strong, so they partnered up to create the Lead with Love Fund. The fund awards do-gooders in communities around the country with grants to help them continue on with their unique missions. Hundreds of nominations came pouring in and five winners were selected based on three criteria: the impact of action, uniqueness, and "Upworthy-ness" of their story.

Here's a look at the five winners:

Edith Ornelas, co-creator of Mariposas Collective in Memphis, Tenn.

Edith Ornelas has a deep-rooted connection to the asylum-seeking immigrant families she brings food and supplies to families in Memphis, Tenn. She was born in Jalisco, Mexico, and immigrated to the United States when she was 7 years old with her parents and sister. Edith grew up in Chicago, then moved to Memphis in 2016, where she quickly realized how few community programs existed for immigrants. Two years later, she helped create Mariposas Collective, which initially aimed to help families who had just been released from detention centers and were seeking asylum. The collective started out small but has since grown to approximately 400 volunteers.