Surviving The Times: Detroit
A few weeks ago I found myself in Detroit for the second time. This time specifically for photography. Before jumping into the story I want to update you on my condition. As you could have already guessed, things have been going great in the recovery department. I’d guess I’m about 80% back to normal health. The last 20% is going to make all the difference though, and it’s going to take a long time to gain back. I was told up to 2 years-NOT ideal but it’s what I have to work with. The job front couldn’t be going much worse, but that’s a whole different story. I’m currently looking for something new.
Ok enough about that...
I'm so happy I finally got a chance to visit Detroit, how often do you hear that? But it's true. Not only did I not get robbed but I left with sense of why it's called the The Comeback City. I saw new infrastructure, and countless acts of revitalization. Now It's up for debate if this type of "gentrification" will be good for the city as a whole or only help a select few but that's not what this blog is about. What's not up for debate is how passionate the people of Detroit are about their city. Detroit vs everybody and they mean it. I heard on multiple occasions that it's the type of place where you give respect to get respect.
My take away: Don't be a dick and you'll be fine. Most likely...
A huge shout out to Ahmad (@Detroit_Chiver) for coming out literally everyday and in general just being the man. You were a major factor in the success of this trip.
I finally got to meet and spend the weekend getting to know MJ a little bit. He's an inspirational guy and a great photographer, you should definitely check him out if you are unfamiliar. www.mjinnyc.com
What churches remain in Detroit are of the most beautiful I have ever seen. So many have fallen into a complete state of disrepair, and all that remains is a glimpse of what once was.
This was the last photo taken on day one. We decided to call it and go get some great food from Slows BBQ. Check em out next time you're in the area.
The next morning Johnny, MJ and I drove to meet up with Ahmad, his girlfriend Zaraha, and 2 of my favorite people from Chicago.. Tatyana (@tat_ventures) and Stephen (atavism). They made the drive through the night to meet up and explore a few spots with us before driving home later that night.
The self portrait at the bottom really means a lot to me. It was just 4 months prior that my life came to a screeching halt on a similar type photo trip in Memphis. I'm not going to over embellish and say it was nearly fatal but it could have potentially been a lot worse than it was. I composed the image with conceptualized thoughts in mind. I'm going to keep them to myself though, so you can freely draw your own ideas.
After wrapping up at the spot several hours later, we arrived at Dearborn Meat Market. If you don't know, now you know. This place was incredible and I recommend checking this place out!
These photos I believe are a testament to the positive power of social media. For as much harm as social media and Instagram have caused, they have also opened up a lot of doors... (Pun intended) What I mean is, social media when used for good, has the power to help facilitate some real genuine moments. For me personally, more often than not, those moments come in new cities, being introduced or finally meeting like minded individuals. It's traveling and learning from people and experiences that keeps my blood and creative juices flowing.
After a heavy lunch we stopped for some much needed coffee. Now off to the next spot turned Insta meet.
Some backseat stylings on the way to the spot.
A huge thank you has to be given to Johnny. (@Johnny_Meant) My man Johnny has one of the biggest hearts of anyone I have ever known. In the short time I've known him we have been through some shit together. I consider myself extremely fortunate to call him my friend.
When the impromptu Insta meet turns 99+1.
Next we switched things up with a rooftop view for sunset.
Shortly after this photo, Stephen and Tat parted ways and made the drive back to Chicago. It was a wonderful surprise to hear they would be making an appearance. I appreciate you both. Lastly a thank you goes out to Tony Bennett (@Tony_Bennett) for letting us crash his studio space. Sorry for going against your wishes but can ya blame us?
The usual suspects...
Looking back on this, the 24mm made dudes arm look huge. Could be artistically interpreted as the proverbial long dick of the law? This was the last photo of the night. MJ, Johnny, and I had to wake up super early the next morning to make the trip to Pontiac.
Super stoked to see this familiar face. Ethan (@ethanpeirson) and his 2 friends Justin (@fakejustinhinds) & Anthony (@anthonyleck_) worked all day then drove from New Jersey, 10 fucking hours to Pontiac to get a few hours sleep before we arrived..
Not trying to overstay our welcome we made our way back to the cars and went out for a much deserved breakfast. 5 orders of Steak and Eggs all around, except for me. I'll have the Eggs Benedict please.
Back in downtown Detroit.. this whole floor off apartments can be yours for $1000.00 a month.
Mj is chillin but Johnny and Josh (@kallyone) don't look impressed...
After a little break we were back on it. Josh brought us to a couple locations. During the ride I learned a few things about him. The first is that he is absolutely the safest driver in Detroit, and to no surprise, a nice guy. Not only those things but he’s a knowledgeable and skilled photographer.
This water has been running for over a year. The city has been notified but to no effect.
We checked out a couple more spots but that was pretty much it for exploring. Ethan and his crew parted ways and made the 10 hour drive back to Jersey. That's some serious dedication. Johnny, MJ, and I went back to the motel for a bit then went out for an amazing dinner to Texas De Brazil then finished things off at the casino.
The next morning, we woke up to our last remaining hours in Detroit. We chose to go back to a couple spots to reshoot some photos.. as per my request. They didn't even end up in this blog, I'm the worst.
This church would be my last location from an action packed, non stop 3 days.
Again, I can't thank the community of Detroit enough for not only making us feel welcome, but going out of your way to make sure we had a great time.