About the TPOD

The People of Detroit is the recipient of a grant from The Knight Foundation and CEOs for Cities.

The People of Detroit Portraiture Project is an ambassador for life in Detroit. It is a curated tour of life in the automotive capital of the world, guided by the inimitable artistic and sociological perspective of one of its native sons.

The mission of TPOD is to use vivid portraiture accompanied by earnest, engaging essays to reform the popular notion of what it means to live in Detroit.

By doing so, TPOD exists to stimulate Detroit-directed investment, retain and attract residency, and serve as a counterbalance to national and global media coverage fixated on despair and disrepair in the storied city.

The project was founded in April 2010 by photographer and Detroit-native Noah Stephens. Since its inception, the project has received local, national, and international attention:

  • The project's founder was briefly featured in the first episode of the three-part Discovery Channel documentary “Detroit in Overdrive
  • In February of 2011, a creative director in China saw TPOD on flickr.com and hired the founder to shoot an eight-portrait ad campaign in Shanghai for McDonald's Corporation.

The project continues to capture the imagination of a global audience. In early 2012, a high school student in Melbourne, Australia posted about the project on his tumblr blog:
"I’ve never been to Detroit, but ‘The People of Detroit’, a wonderful photo blog by Detroit-based photographer Noah Stephens should give you a look into what the people of Detroit are really like."
 - Jeremy Lui | A Pony for President 
Posts like Jeremy's speak to TPOD's unique ability to influence how people think about Detroit. 

Noah started The People of Detroit after seeing a Dateline NBC special on the city. The special profiled a man who shot, ate, and sold raccoon meat. The implication being, of course, that things are so dire in Detroit that raccoon meat had become a sort of post-apocalyptic staple food.

Noah grew up on welfare in the city. He'd never eaten raccoon. No one he knew ate raccoon.

The Dateline story is endemic in media coverage of the city. Its often times accurate (there is in fact a man who sells raccoon meat in the city), but it's rarely representative (most people in Detroit have never eaten raccoon).

Noah founded TPOD to chronicle the intelligent, attractive, industrious, talented people who enliven the city and make it a place he is happy to call home.

"I hope TPOD continues to be a candid, earnest look into life in this city.  TPOD forces people who have never been here; people who grew up here, went to college and never returned; current residents of the city proper and residents of the metropolitan area to re-imagine what it means to be a Detroiter. Thank you for looking in on the project. Please take a moment to leave a comment or two."

Additional  information:  Media Coverage