The Story behind an Image

For the past 13 years, I have had a love affair with photography. I love great images that comes with a story. Over the years, I have shot a few images that has a story. Here is part one of a series I call “The story behind an Image”.

Part 1: The Sprit of Detroit

In the Summer of 2007 I was living in Downtown Detroit and I started a long term project I called “My Detroit“. A collection of images of what I called Detroit. The areas I love as well as images you can only see in Detroit. Detroit is a border city, the Detroit river is the border for the United States and it’s northern neighbor, Canada. Which in Detroit, you have to travel south to get to Canada.

The first week in July, Detroit, and Windsor take part in the International Freedom Festival. It celebrates the United States Forth of July and Canada Day. The multi day festival brings up to 3.5 million Canadians and Americans to both sides Detroit river front. The highlight of the Festival is one of the largest fireworks displays in the midwest. I wanted to photography the fireworks and have a landmark of Detroit in the image. I chose the Renaissance Center to be my Detroit landmark. It is the tallest building in Michigan as well as the World Headquarters for General Motors. I had seen images from past  Freedom fest and the fireworks are launched from barges on the river. All I would need to do is to find a location where I could frame the Renaissance Center and the fireworks in one shot.

On the day of the fireworks with a few shooting locations in mind, I headed out to the river front. As soon as I left my apartment, I was overwhelmed with how many people were out to see the fireworks.

Both the sidewalks and street were full of people walking to the riverfront. Woodward as well as Jefferson avenue were blocked off and was full of people sitting and waiting for the fireworks to start. From the start, I knew that the fireworks were to be launched from three burges. Everything about this shot heavily relied on that there was going to be a burge behind or near to the Renaissance Center.

As the sunset, more, and more people showed up. Jefferson avenue became a sea of chairs, continuing to fill the streets and sidewalks. I managed to find a spot in front of the Renaissance Center. Sitting on the curb, camera, and tripod in front of me hoping that this is going to be the shot in my minds eye. But as soon as the fireworks started, I quickly realized it was not. The burge closest to the Renaissance Center was too far away to frame both in the shot. My first thought of to move to my left to close the gap between the Renaissance Center and the closest burge launching fireworks. But at street level, there was too many obstacles in the shot. Trees, light poles, bunch of junk. With limited time, I tried to make the best of the situation. Relocation to another Detroit landmark and shoot from there. The closest landmark that came to mine was the Joe Louis fist in the middle of Woodward and Jefferson avenue. With the mass of people there that idea was not going to work. There was just too many people between me and the fist as well as all the people already around it. Bummed out that my plans has failed, I decided to pack up and head back home. Walking back on Jefferson, weaving in and out of folks watching the fireworks, I pass the Colman Young building and turn onto Woodward. At the end of the Colman Young building sits the Spirit of Detroit statute. I decide to walk behind the statue instead of in front and get in the way of people watching the fireworks. As I pass behind the spirit of Detroit, I turned one last time to view the crowd and fireworks before returning home after the failed attempt and this is what I saw …

The thought never crossed my mind to shoot in front of the Spirit of Detroit.

Exif data:
Date Time 6/27/2007  10:19:54 PM
Model   Canon EOS 20D
Lens Attached  17-85 mm
Focal Length  28.0
Exposure Program Aperture Priority
ISO Speed  100
Exposure Time  1.3sec
F-Number  9.0

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