Detroit: A Photo Project


No longer a newbie, moving up!
Apr 30, 2013
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Hey gang, I'm on a bit of a mission here and I need some help. I'm taking a trip back to my hometown of good ol' Detroit, MI in a couple of weeks, and I plan on spending a month photographing the nicer parts of the city. The stuff you don't see in the media these days. The goal is to show thought a series of photographs and articles that yes, the city has it's challenges, but it isn't the post-apocalyptic hellscape that the media is making it out to be. It's home as far as I'm concerned, and it's home to a lot of great people who don't take kindly to being treated like they live in a third world country.

Here's the thing: I am not a photographer. I carry a camera, and sometimes I get lucky. I think I have a good eye for composition, and I know when the lighting in a shot sucks, but I don't know a whole lot about how to make it not suck. As I go, I will post what I think are the best shots and I'd like to enlist your help to edit them to be the best they can be. I'll be submitting the story to various media outlets because I think it's a story that needs to be told, and full credit will be given to those who have helped. It may very well go nowhere.

I'll be posting this same info on, our sister site that many of you have visited. The more edits, the merrier, ya know. You never know what the underdogs of the photo forum world might come up with.

Aaron, your friendly administrator.
Aaron, I grew up outside of Detroit and have great memories of the city. I also loathe the way it's currently being portrayed. It has a fabulous history with music as well as industry, and still has a lot of soul. :love: So that would be your mission - look for the soul! Lots to find around there, and you have a month to scout it out, so you're very lucky. The downtown area has fabulous old buildings, and the riverside too. As far as lighting, try to go in the morning or late afternoon/evening when the sun will be softer (Ye Olde Golden Hour), which could really help warm up that architecture. Take your meter readings in shadow areas and go up and down from what your camera suggests - in other words, bracket those suggested exposures, so even helpful TPF'ers won't have to work as hard when editing. You'll learn a lot, and probably come away from the experience feeling like you've learned a few things.

Good luck and have fun!! :heart:

Terri, your friendly moderator.
I spent a long time last weekend looking through photographs of Detroit. The site I was reading had dozens upon dozens of relatively old and current photographs showing the difference in so many of the majestic buildings there. It's absolutely amazing the level of decay that some of those structures have gone through and how many of them have been completely demolished. On the other hand there are many that have been completely refurbished and look marvelous.

One thing that would be difficult to do but would really be interesting, I think, would be a before-after-later type of project. Find a structure that has been brought back from the dead and see if you can find photographs of it during the good years, how far it deteriorated, and how much better it looks now.

Good luck with your project. I'll keep an eye on it.
Im in Metro Detroit, but used to do alot of deliverys throughout Detroit. Downtown and riverside are nice, but maybe go past that and go into the urban area and try and find the gems. I believe there is a section for historic houses, try going over there, alot of BIG houses that look amazing.
Thanks for the encouragement. Yea, I've got my work cut out for me, but it's something I really believe in. I went a couple of years ago and photographed the Heidelberg project (google it if you're not familiar) and got some really good stuff. Long story short, and downtrodden Detroit community decorated their block by painting crazy colors and using trash as art to draw attention to it and keep it from developing crackhouses.

I'll post as I go, and maybe try to dig up some of the Heidelberg stuff I already have. Thanks!
I finally found the site I was looking at. It is Here. Their little "Road Sign" navigation icons are confusing at first, but basically just keep clicking the [Detour] button to see everything.

It's really depressing that a great city like Detroit can get to this state, and I hope something is done to change the direction it is taking.

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