Though he uses his account to document his travels a lot, professional architectural lighting designer Tyler Ezell always come back to showcasing Detroit. “I like showing the beauty of the city. For the longest time Detroit has been viewed as a scary place you wouldn’t go to, but I find inspiration in the resilience of its people. There are people here that have stuck through it, nose to the grindstone, finding a way to continue to make it all work, despite great adversity.”
The success of Felicia Fullwood’s Instagram account enabled her to start her own photography company in 2017. “I started taking photography seriously in 2014, as my way to escape the stress of my desk job. Through the app I was able to meet and make connections with people and the opportunities needed to kick start my career. If it wasn’t for my Instagram account and the city, I don’t think I would have discovered my passion.”
Detroit native Andrew Curnow only picked up a camera three years ago, but now has his own photography website alongside his Instagram account. “What got me into photography was trying to portray the city I grew up in a different way than I had seen done before. Detroit is a city of people who are humble about what they have and they are always looking out for each other. I’ve been in some sketchy areas and met some of the nicest people.”
After a long and stressful shift as an intensive care unit staff RN on Detroit’s west side, Fatima Mears finds photography a great therapy. “Taking photos is like an escape to another world, I love this city and love showing it’s beauty both in decay and in its comeback. You can still sense the history just by driving around.”
Jon De Boer got into photography in college whilst studying graphic design, and he now works part-time as a freelance sports, event and architectural photographer, including a position as the team photographer for Detroit City FC. “My personal account features my cityscape, architectural, street and night photography work, mainly in Detroit. I am inspired by the historic architecture, the unique atmosphere of the city at night, but most importantly, the people of Detroit.”
“I started out as a sculptor but began to carry a camera around as I explored sites, and over time it took on its own artform,” says artist and lifelong Detroiter Scott Hocking. “My account is a mix of the various photo series I’m working on as well as my other art projects, installations, exhibitions, travels, history. In Detroit, I tend to focus on documenting the things I see vanishing, trying to capture aspects of the city that are changing rapidly, before they disappear.”
Despite being legally blind, James Gates discovered he had an eye for photography on vacation a few years ago. He was born with a condition called congenital nystagmus, which makes it difficult for him to do many day-to-day tasks. “You can do anything you put your mind to, if you want to do it bad enough, and photography is my therapy from the day to day stress of work and life,” he says. “My feed shows off Detroit and its architecture the way I see it.”
Photography has been a refuge for Melissa Vize, who’s lived in suburban Detroit all her life. “Photography was a way for me to feel in control when going through a difficult time. Support from other photographers and feedback from residents that they appreciate the way I portray the city has been really important, and Instagram has been integral to that. My account is about seeing what no one else does.”
Steve St Germain grew up fascinated with the city’s unique architecture and gritty aesthetic, and now lives in the historic Boston-Edison district. “I aim to give my followers a true insider’s guide, showcasing the beauty within the city through everything from gorgeous art-deco lobbies and museums to exploring former auto plants and capturing the latest street art. It’s an incredible hobby and creative outlet for me.”
“The more I learned, the more passionate I became about it,” Sean Wimberly says of photography, which he has been doing for a year and a half. “I have a day job but I’m working towards trying to build my portfolio and my name to where I can do it full time.” His account is all about seeing the world through his imagination, manipulation of colors, and raising the profile of the city.
“I was born in the city, and have lived in Detroit proper all my life, something I take pride in,” says Nadir Ali, a communications manager and fine arts graduate from Wayne State University. “A friend of mine has a quote that goes, “Detroit is big enough to matter in the world, and small enough for you to matter in it”. I think she hit the nail on the head.” His feed is particularly notable for his use of drone photography.
Yemeni-American Nasr Almansoob is an aspiring photographer who lives in southwest Detroit. A full-time computer science student at Wayne State University, he’s taken photos ever since he had his first smartphone and loves “how you can frame an image in your mind and make it come to life in a photo.”
Seventeen-year-old Adi discovered photography as a young skater, saving up to get his hands on a camera as soon as he could. His feed features striking portraits of his friends and other Detroit characters, urban decay and daring rooftop photography. Of Detroit he says, “I feel like it’s not just any other city. The people here are all up to something and the feeling I get from it is like no other city.”
Abandoned houses shot with colorful filters are the focus of ad agency creative director Karen Kozy’s Instagram project. “I look at them knowing that someone worked hard to build, live, love and raise a family there. They sit empty but the memories linger, so I wanted to pay respect to these homes one last time. Detroit’s changing so fast, a lot of what I’ve shot has already been torn down.”
Wayne State University student Ryan Zeller grew up in Port Huron, MI, an hour north of the city. Atmospheric sunset and twilight skies over water are a recurring feature of his account, so it’s no surprise his favorite place to shoot in the city is Belle Isle. “There’s a lot of opportunity for great photos on that island. Detroit is filled with opportunity and that really motivates me.”