"Nichole's Son" from the Detroit Food Desert project.






The #DetroitFoodDesert project was featured recently on First Block - a primetime news program from WDIV Local 4. Here's the TPOD's segment:








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May 31, 2010

Cigar Connoisseur

Canon EOS 7D | Canon 35mm f/1.4 | Available Light
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I'm the kinda of person who has what I suppose is a common face. I say that on account of someone is always telling me that I look just like their cousin, brother, uncle, nephew, and/or childhood best friend.

So I guess it's no surprise that after a long day of trying to rustle up images of interesting people, I was unlocking my bike from in front of the 1701 Executive Cigar Bar when the gentleman picture above asked,

"Hey! Where do I know you from?"

As is my custom, I began to enumerate the various eras of my life and their corresponding institutions in search of a common history.

High school? Nope. College? Nope. Childhood neighborhood. Nada.

Though we never solved the mystery of my familiar face, we did manage to agree on taking a portrait as he was on his way into the cigar bar.

So there you have it. An exceedingly friendly - albeit complete unfamiliar - cigar connoisseur.

[p.s. I hope I don't never look like someone who just robbed a bank...]

May 30, 2010

Savvy Chic(k)

Canon EOS 7D | Canon 35mm f/1.4 | Available Light
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Karen Brown is the owner of Savvy Chic - a antique furniture and vintage clothing boutique in Detroit's Eastern Market district.

I was in one of the farmers' market's newly and beautifully remodeled sheds when I happened to run into her this past Saturday.

Now, Miss Brown's store is phenomenal. She has some utterly singular antique furniture pieces, vintage clothing steeped in history, and evocatively fragrant scented candles from Voluspa

But perhaps one of the most impressive things about the store - and about Miss Brown - lies right beneath your feet. Though the floor is concrete, Miss Brown painted it to appear as if it is weathered wood.

The effect is completely convincing. So much so that I didn't notice it until she pointed it out to me one day.

Savvy Chic is one of those stores that I would not have been naturally inclined to check out. I think I only wandered in their at the bequest of a female friend.

And in fairness, I don't think I am the store's target market.

Karen confided that most men who visit the store mispronounce "chic" ( a thing that embodies sophisticated style) as "chick" (slang for a girl or woman).

Well, one look at her stock of unique items and the masterful faux-wood treatment on the concrete floor, and you may be convinced that the people who say "Savvy Chick" are onto something...

[Contact Karen  at 313-833-8769 or at karen.brown22@yahoo.com]

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May 29, 2010

Independent Hatter


Canon EOS 7D | Canon 35mm f/1.4 | Available Light
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The goal of my project is to highlight people in Detroit who have interesting occupations, interesting stories or, at the very least, interesting faces.

Finding people with interesting occupations is fairly straight forward: you go to the place where they work or study. Interesting faces can be found using an albeit subjective but nonetheless straight forward appraisal process.

But as you can imagine, it is exceedingly more difficult to pick people out of a crowd who have interesting stories.

Luckily, as I mentioned in the Graphic Artist post, a person's clothing often provides an insight into their personality, interests, and story.

The gentleman you see pictured above is a prime example of this theory.  In fact, he is wearing his story on his head.

This is Mac of Mac's Hats.  I saw Mac down on the waterfront with his daughter and something about his appearance signaled to me that he was a good person to include in The People of Detroit.

It turns out Mac was laid off from his retail job with a well-known local clothier (I want to say Sims, but I'm not 100 percent sure).  In that minor tragedy, he saw an opportunity. He used being laid off as the impetus to star his own line of hats. He was wearing one of creations in the photo above.

I told Mac that sometimes it takes a loss to push us toward something that truly fulfills us. Mac said it has been a slow burn, but that he was truly loving the process of working toward building something of his own.

I think he's gonna do well for himself. I can tell by looking at him.

[Contact Mac at Macs_Hats@yahoo.com]

[View the weekdaily blog and meet more of: The People of Detroit ]

May 28, 2010

Graphic Artist

Canon EOS 7D | Canon 35mm f/1.4 | Available Light
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You know how people - well, I was going to attempt to be gender neutral, but I have honestly never heard a man say this - you know how women say,

"I don't dress for anyone but myself!"

Bull ish. I've always held that everyone dresses for other people, because everyone understands that clothing is a form of non-verbal communication. This project has gone a long way to confirm my hypothesis.

May 27, 2010

Honorary Detroiter


Canon 7D | 35mm 1.4 | Natural Light

Maegan Gindi is NOT from Detroit. Which is the exact reason why I included her in this project.

See, Maegan is a graduate of the highly regarded Rochester Institute of Photography and a native of Brooklyn, New York. She traveled to Detroit this week on her own dime to begin the first phase of a portraiture project focused on the people of Detroit.

I met Maegan while I was in a antique store in Detroit's Eastern Market. I had my camera slung over my shoulder, and was oblivious to the young woman who approached me from behind...

"24-70?"

"Naw, 35mm 1.4"

"Oh yea? Nice!"

For the non-photo nerds "24-70" refers to the focal length in millimeters of one of Canon's L series zoom  lenses. 35mm refers to the focal length of the lens I use. It's called a prime lens because unlike a zoom lens there is no way to increase or decrease the field of view except by moving your feet.

What prime lenses sacrifice in convenience they repay in image quality. Because the lens only has to be built to one specific focal length....

Bored as shit yet? Yea ya are! But from that coded exchange forward Maegan and I passionately discussed photography tech, theory, technique and most importantly, the city of Detroit. We hung out the next day with a non-photo nerd friend of hers and a non photo-nerd friend of mine at the Detroit Beer Company  - where we actually met Lamar from the Visual Artist post.

Maegan expressed an enthusiasm for the city that I seldom see in many of the people who live here. I suppose its hard to appreciate something you always have access to. Sometimes it takes an outsider to see the value in things you pass by everyday.

And Maegan made significant sacrifices to see those things. She works as a photo assistant in NYC, and had to forgo some lucrative gigs in pursuit of her Detroit portraiture project. But she's enthusiastic about this city and it's people.

And it is in recognition of that enthusiasm that by the power vested in me by my got damn self, I hereby declare Maegan Gindi an honorary Detroiter.

[Stop by Borders and/or Barnes and Noble and check out Maegan's photography in the latest edition of Tokion magazine]

[View the weekdaily blog and meet more of: The People of Detroit ]

May 26, 2010

Visual Artist



Canon 7D | 35mm 1.4 | Ambient Light

The best thing about a camera, is you can ask total strangers to take their picture and then they can come to your house on the night you are supposed to post their picture and they can distract the shit out of you while you are trying to meet your self-imposed deadline by blurting out stupid funny shit like:

"Chicken is the only animal you can eat, before that mutha fucka is even born."


May 25, 2010

...Camera Owner


Canon EOS 7D | Canon 35mm f/1.4 | Available Light
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This is the companion photograph to Camera Holder...

For anyone unwilling or unable to view the first photo in the mini-series, I'll offer a brief recap:

I saw two young women. One young woman was holding a camera.  Since cameras are only third to babies and dogs on the scale of top excuses to talk to strangers, I took the opportunity to ask if she was a photographer.

May 24, 2010

Camera Holder...


Canon EOS 7D | Canon 35mm f/1.4 | Available Light
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I first got into photography about a year and a half ago at the conclusion of the most emotionally draining, pathological relationship I had ever taken part in.

I needed something to occupy my time and draw my attention away from my heartache and  photography proved to be the perfect outlet (fully how it seems like you are losing something so integral to who you are at the time - then when you look back, you realize losing that something was the BEST thing that could have happened).

May 23, 2010

I Don't Usually...

Canon EOS 7D | Canon 35mm f/1.4 | Available Light
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People outside of Michigan may be surprised to know that Detroit has become a hotbed for Hollywood film productions. This is due to aggressive tax incentives instituted by Governor Jennifer Granholm.

Some argue Michigan is not netting the full benefits of the incentives because the incentives lean heavily in favor of filmmakers at the expense of being fiscally optimal for the state.

Either way, major Hollywood productions are being filmed in Detroit and that makes a simple Midwestern farm-boy such as myself just ripe with excitement.

May 22, 2010

Clothier | Artist


Canon EOS 7D | Canon 35mm f/1.4 | Available Light
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Phil is one of the owners of a hip hop clothing store called Freshman Clothing at 204 Grand River in the Harmony Park district of Detroit.

Which is the reason why I believe American school children should be obligated to take a Sex and Relationship Education course titled "Everything That Glitters isn't Gold, and Everything that's Wet Isn't Water."

What does that have to do with this photo. Nothing, really. The thought just occurred to me earlier today and I thought it was really, really funny. I wanted to take the nearest opportunity to immortalize it on the internet because I'm a egotistical bastard, the saying is sure to catch on and I want to be properly credited as its progenitor.

Ahem.

Back to my man Phil. I stopped through his store for the first time a couple of days ago.  I'd noticed it before, but had never taken the time to stop through.

Since I was primarily aware of the store as a clothier, I was surprised to walk in and see not t-shirts and jeans, but an impressive collection of art on the walls.

Phil explained that both he and his business partner were artists and they had decided to display some of their work in the store. Phil had just began experimenting with a new style of painting and wanted to give it a public debut.

That said, his new work almost made him pass on being photographed that day. He  wanted to have me come back on another day when he was "clean." His  attire at the time was splattered with paint from his new pieces.

"Phil, I look at those splatters like the wrinkles on a well-aged face: they are irrefutable marks of your development and experience. We should shoot with it on."

That's the movie script version of what I said. The real version had more awkward pauses and fewer words that made sense.

Nonetheless, he was convinced. Thankfully because I think it adds a lot to the portrait. Much in the same way that people like Phill add alot to the city.

See, Phil is the exact kinda person that that led me to start this photo project. Murderers, corrupt mayor(s) and semi-literate, super belligerent city council people grab headlines but they do not define Detroit. Ambitious, multi-talented folks like Phil are the heart of the city.

And much like a literal heart they tend to be obscured from view.

I'm doing my best Ben Carson...

[View the weekdaily blog and meet more of: The People of Detroit ]

May 21, 2010

Vine Owner


Canon EOS 7D | Canon 35mm f/1.4 | Available Light
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Since I decided to publish to The People of Detroit daily, I've been especially motivated to get out everyday and make new portraits. Which reminds me.

Never approach a stranger and ask if you can "make their portrait."  Though the term is well understood among photographer auteurs who want to emphasize that they are not merely "taking" a picture - not merely clicking the shutter - but that they are thoughtfully blending different ingredients to "make" a photo, the general public has no ideal what you mean.

May 20, 2010

Actor | Comedian


Canon EOS 7D | Canon 35mm f/1.4 | Available Light
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In the Movie Director post, I promised that a young man named Kareem that would be next. More or less true to my word, here he is.

As detailed in Movie Director post, Kareem and I grew up in Highland Park together. Though the title of  this photo is Actor | Director, it could have just as accurately have been called Straight Fool.

Kareem has always had a irrepressible comedic exuberance.  This innate comedic sensibility has undoubtedly been the drive behind Kareem's comedic ambitions. 

That ambition drove Kareem to move to California in pursuit of his entertainment career.  That ambition has also earned Kareem small appearances in several movies, performances at comedy clubs both in Detroit and California and the admiration of fellow Detroit expatriate and MTV Wild n' Out alum Carlos "Spanky" Hayes - who Kareem describes as a friend and mentor.

"I'm on the grind, man!," Kareem exclaimed.

I can relate. That's why I'm posting this entry at 3:30 in the gotdamn morning like I aint got no gotdamn day job.

When you have an innate need to communicate, you are never truly happy until you create the opportunity to do so.

Follow Kareem's grind on his Facebook page.

[View the weekdaily blog and meet more of: The People of Detroit ]

May 19, 2010

Too Cool

Canon EOS 7D | Canon 35mm f/1.4 | Available Light
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My dad was never around when I was a kid. But in my imagination. He dressed just like this.

I saw this gentleman leaving the Motown Hoedown  with his three small children in tow (you can see their reflection in his left lens; my reflection in his right).

I stepped in front of the familial procession:

"I have to take your picture. You are too cool."

"Just me?"

"Just you. Say. What were you doing around springtime 1978?..."

[View the weekdaily blog and meet more of: The People of Detroit ]

May 16, 2010

Detroit Loves You

Canon EOS 7D | Canon 35mm f/1.4 | Available Light
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Let's play a game of word association. I'll shout "Detroit!" and you will in turn shout the first word that springs to mind. I can hear you all now:

"Country music!"

No, not really.

In reality, country music probably is not the first word that springs to thought when you think of Detroit.  This makes the on-going success of the Motown Hoedown country music festival all the more noteworthy.

May 8, 2010

Movie Director

Canon EOS 7D | Canon 35mm f/1.4 | Available Light
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Highland Park is a city within the city  limits of Detroit proper. In addition to  being home to Henry Ford's first assembly  plant (now defunct and abandoned), it is also  home to a sizable, mostly African-American,  Sunni Muslim community.

I was inducted into that community when my  family converted to Sunni Islam when I was around 8-years-old.

Qasim was associated with the community in Highland Park. He is also the director of Mooz-Lem: The Movie - a locally-filmed movie that is still in development . It features Danny Glover, Nia Long and quite a few other impressively notable Hollywood cast members.

The One

Canon EOS 7D | Canon 35mm f/1.4 | Available Light
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A couple of Saturday afternoons ago I set out around downtown looking for a interesting person to put in front of my lens. It was cool and cloudy and there were not many people out.

The stylishly-attired young man picture above, Antoine,  was "the one" person who drew my attention.

Well, that's not completely true. But that somewhat abbreviated narrative does help justify the title of the picture and the Matrix-inspired processing.

May 7, 2010

Journaturalist

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jour·nat·u·ra·list (jur-nāch'ər-ə-lĭst), noun

1. A portmanteau word formed from "journal" and "naturalist" commonly used to describe a young woman who grew up in South America, lives in Detroit, works as a journalist and has a strong affinity for nature (exemplified by the ability and willingness to milk goats and weed urban gardens with a machete).

see also: Minehaha Forman.


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May 4, 2010

Student | Rocker

Canon EOS 7D | Canon 35mm f/1.4 | Available Light
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Earlier in the project, I mentioned that Detroit is home to a renown research university. The name of said institution is Wayne State University.

I've wanted to include some students in my project for sometime, so after work today, I rode my bike up to the campus. I was up there for 30 minutes or so and was about to pack up and go home until I saw a young woman with vibrantly red hair.

I've noticed that I'm drawn to red-haired women. Now,  I'm not going to say that being 4 years old, and taking a bath, and my sister's Strawberry Shortcake doll accidentally falling from a shower shelf and landing atop my bare, wet, naked baby-crotch has anything to do with it, but what do I know.

I'm no neurologist.

Naw, but for real.  I'm sure I passed any number of red-haired women that I didn't want to photograph. However, Molly had a certain nonconformist funkiness in her overall presentation that hinted at a personality that was a break from the norm.

For me, that's what this project is all about. Highlighting people who live, work, study, and play in Detroit who shatter the popular notion of what a Detroiter is.

So, I stalked Molly for about 2 blocks and finally told her about the project and asked if I could photograph her.

When she told me that she was in a rock band, I knew my hunch was well-founded. I gave her a card.  I hope she checks back so we can learn more about HER art.


[View the weekdaily blog and meet more of: The People of Detroit ]