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June 23, 2010

Lone Tigers Fan



Canon 7D | Canon 35mm f/1.4L | Available Light
Canon EOS 7D | Canon 35mm f/1.4 | Available Light

I sometimes complain about how difficult it can be to find people to photograph in Detroit. The population of the city peaked in 1950 at 1.8 million people. Currently, the city has fewer than 900,000 residents.

Since the city is more or less at half of its capacity, the streets aren't exactly overflowing with potential candidates for the project.

June 22, 2010

Debate-Great Maker

Canon EOS 7D | Canon 35mm f/1.4 | Available Light
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As I've mentioned before, I am a terrible person.

I'm selfish. Fairly impatient. When I get on a escalator behind people and those people just stand there like well-clothed bipedal cows instead of walking with the escalator, I find myself having to repress the urge to punch them in the buttocks.  Like I said. Just an all-around bad person.

Then again, maybe I'm not that bad. Maybe I've just had the good fortune to come into contact with some really good people who make me seem atrocious by comparison.

June 21, 2010

River Days: Father and Daughter


Canon 7D | Canon 35mm f/1.4L | Available Light
Canon EOS 7D | Canon 35mm f/1.4 | Available Light
 

River Days is an annual festival on the Detroit riverfront that takes place Father's Day weekend.  That being the case, I figured it would be appropriate to photograph some fathers and their children.

I approached this young man and his daughter and explained the project to him. Normally when I do so, people are usually nice enough to humor every pause in my spiel with a perfunctory head nod. But I was about three or four pauses into it and my man's head was completely upright.

June 17, 2010

Stylist | Make-Up Artist



Canon EOS 7D | Canon 35mm f/1.4 | Available Light
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So, I went by 1515 Broadway coffeehouse to left Crystal know I posted her photo.

There were a couple of folks in there. One young lady was in the city from L.A. I asked her name.

"Vignette"

"Like a smaller part of a larger story?"

June 15, 2010

Poetic Barista


Canon 7D | Canon 35mm f/1.4L | Available Light
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Crystal is a barista at the the 1515 Broadway coffeehouse and performance venue.

If customer service is a dying memory in your dejected consumer psyche, Crystal has the kind of inviting, friendly personality that will resuscitate it for you.

June 14, 2010

Fly Mogul



Canon EOS 7D | Canon 35mm f/1.4 | Available Light
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This is the fourth and final portrait in the series that began here.

This is Deondre Gordon. He's the C.E.O of Delamar Property Management and a certified Fly Mogul.

I really enjoyed making this portrait and I am very pleased with the result. I feel like this project is forcing me to grow as a photographer, retoucher, and artist in general. I'm adding new things to my toolbox and availing myself of a daily opportunity to apply them

June 13, 2010

Baritone Saxophone



Canon EOS 7D | Canon 35mm f/1.4L | Available Light
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This is third in the mini-series that began here.

This is Eli. He's a jazz studies major at Wayne State University and a baritone saxophone player.

He is also a "real gem of a person" according to a certain inside source who may or may not also appear somewhere in this series.

June 12, 2010

Music Teacher



Canon EOS 7D | Canon 35mm f/1.4L | Available Light
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Alright. As I mentioned in the Filmmaker | Musician post, I'm doing a four photo mini-series on that group of friends.

Here's the second portrait from that meeting.

This is Christen. According to the Info section of her Facebook page, she's a piano and saxophone instructor. She says she can teach both the musically inclined and those with little inclination for music.

June 11, 2010

Filmmaker | Musician


Canon EOS 7D | Canon 35mm f/1.4L | Available Light
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So, The People of Detroit has been been getting a bit of attention lately. Noted hip-hop journalist Dream Hampton Tweeted about the project. A friend also told me he saw a link to the project on Talib Kweli's Twitter feed. This, of course, has led to an inflated sense of my own celebrity.

I went looking for someone to photograph on my lunch hour. I saw a group of four artistic looking young people and figured they'd make great additions to the project (so much so that the next three photos will be culled from that encounter).

So, I started to follow them until I got close enough to ask to be excused for my intrusion.

The young woman pictured above noticed me first. When she turned. Her face came alive with a certain look of recognition/excitement.

When I saw the expression on her face, I thought she must have heard of this mysterious man with a camera stalking the streets of Detroit. She must have looked him up on Facebook because he, of course, is far too modest to post a picture of himself on the actually blog. That would just draw attention away from The People of Detroit and he is a selfless, humble servant of the people.

A camera-toting Jesus, if you will.

And now, here he was. Primed to humbly ask to forever immortalize her among The People of Detroit.

Then, to my astonishment, she called out my name...

"Aaron McGruder?"

Whomp whomp whoooommmmp...

I explained that I'd been thought akin to a lot of people - a shorter, poorer Vin Diesel, the guy from Kris Kross (Kris, hopefully. Who wants to be Kross?), an economy class Chico Debarge - but I had never heard I resembled the luminary creator of The Boondocks.

Then again, it takes a certain kind of person to even know what Aaron McGruder looks like. My kinda people.

Once I vanquished my delusions of grandeur, I was able to learn more about Erica. She is a musician and a filmmaker and that box in her hand tells me she is also a sweets connoisseur. It's from a really great local bake shop called Astoria.

I'm happy to say that after all was said and done, Erica was completely open to participate in the project...

...despite my not being Aaron McGruder.

June 10, 2010

Skate Music Enthusiast



Canon EOS 7D | Canon 35mm f/1.4 | Available Light
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Movement is one of the most widely attended electronic music festivals in the world - and it happens right here in Detroit every Memorial Day weekend.

Over that same weekend, Detroit electronic music luminary Moodymann - aka Kenny Dixon Jr - hosts the Soul Skate party at the Northland Skating Rink at the northwest edge of the city's limit on the now fabled 8 Mile Road. Kenny's event is the natural confluence of soulful electronic house music and the skating tradition that runs strong in black American culture.

June 9, 2010

Editor


Canon EOS 7D | Canon 35mm f/1.4L | Available Light
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W. Kim Heron is the editor of the Metro Times - a free, weekly news and entertainment publication here in Detroit.

I saw him on the Riverwalk the other day, told him about the project and was pleasantly surprised that he was already familiar with it and in fact counted himself as a reader.

That said, I'd like to take this time to say hello to W. Kim Heron.

But seriously, the Metro Times is a one of the best sources for what's going on in Detroit - especially as it pertains to culture and entertainment events. It is an deeply entrenched part of my weekly routine. Make it a part of yours: www.metrotimes.com/Default.asp?


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

June 8, 2010

Martial Artist



Canon EOS 7D | Canon 35mm f/1.4L | Avalable Light
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I've heard a variety of responses when I've told people about the project and asked to make their photo. The response from this local martial artist is the best by far.

"You ain't from the FBI, are you?"

I responded as any reasonable man would,

June 7, 2010

Happy Cream


Canon EOS 7D | Canon 35mm f/1.4L | Ambient Light
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Al Tolbert is the owner of Happy Cream at 128 Monroe St. in downtown Detroit.  I came across the shop one Sunday when I had a taste for some ice cream and Happy Cream was the only place open in the whole of downtown Detroit. 

That was months ago. I only recently took the opportunity to learn more about the story of Happy Cream's owner Al Tolbert.

June 6, 2010

Five Dollar Photo


Canon EOS 7D | Canon 35mm f/1.4L | Available Light
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I started in photography about a year and a half ago. As the quality of my output increased, so did inquiries about my rates.

My rates?

Since I was new to the art of photography and even more unaccustomed to the business of it all, I would scan the internet for photographers in this region, and base my quotes on a percentage of their fee. It seemed like a reasonable enough approach.

June 5, 2010

Skateboard D



Canon EOS 7D | Canon 35mm f/1.4L | Natural Light
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This is Delon. He's the webmaster for Freshman Clothing - a local hip-hop/skateboard culture clothing store. He's also a skateboarder. Obviously.

He's not alone.  In fact there is almost always a group of mostly black skateboarders  practicing tricks and crashing their acrylic wheels into the concrete in front of Freshman Clothing. They are representative of a small but enthusiastic sub-culture of black skateboarders in the city of Detroit.

Their race is noteworthy because I am old enough to remember when skateboarding was not something that was accepted in the black community. I don't know why, it seems so silly, but that's how it was.

I'm happy to see the progressive schlepping away of prescribe ideas about who is allowed to do what. In honor of social progress, maybe I'll get myself a board..

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

June 4, 2010

Mobile Photographer



Canon EOS 7D | Canon 35mm f/1.4L | Available Light
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This photo was taken during the weekend of the the Motown Hoedown. I was on my way home when I saw this camera-laden young man.

"That's quite the impressive kit. What are you taking pictures of?'

"Nothing, now!"

He went on to explain that he was down on the riverfront charging Motown Hoedown festival goers to take their picture. He had a photo printer in tow tucked away in a picnic cooler. He'd print the photo up, collect his fee and be on his way.

Or so he thought.

Apparently, you can't charge to take pictures on the street, unless you have a vendor's license. The police asked him to leave and offered the consolatory caveat that he was free to charge for photos in the neighborhoods.

"Ain't downtown a neighborhood?"

June 3, 2010

Calorie Accountant



Canon EOS 7D | Canon 35mm f/1.4 | Available Light
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At its most populous, Detroit was home to 1,849,568 people. By the 2000 census, the city's population had dwindled to 951,270 - a net loss of 898,298 residents.

As a consequence, there are many unoccupied houses on many unoccupied blocks in a half occupied city.

The exodus from the city is even apparent in what is usually a city's epicenter of activity: downtown. At 6 p.m., downtown's office buildings empty. Workers spill into the capillary surface streets which carry them to the interstate expressway veins which carry them to outlying suburbs, townships, villages where their journey out of city's heart terminates.

At least that's what generally happens.

June 2, 2010

Drummer Man

Canon EOS 7D | Canon 35mm f/1.4 | Available Light
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Detroit is the kinda place where if you sit in one place for long enough, sooner or later every person you have every known in this piece will eventually walk past.

That's either a good or a bad thing depending on who you have ever known.  Luckily, I've known alotta interesting, talented, good people.

Quentin Dennard II is one such person.

June 1, 2010

Chasing the Dream


Canon EOS 7D | Canon 35mm f/1.4 | Available Light
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This is a emcee named Troubel. I'm not sure if I'm spelling that right, although I should know on account of I have his CD. Somewhere.

A couple of months before I took this photograph, I stopped by the Starbucks on Woodward and Mack. As I approached the counter to order a small coffee (I always ask for a "small", not a "tall" because I refuse to use Starbuck's cup size cult nomenclature) the young man pictured above called out from the de facto CD market he tended on a tabletop directly across from store's cash register.

"Yo. You support Detroit hip hop?"

Sigh.