For the past 14 years, I have had a love affair with photography. I love 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 Spirit of Detroit
In the Summer of 2007, while living Downtown I started a long-term photo project called “My Detroit”. Showcasing the areas I love and can only see in the “D”. During first week in July, Detroit and Windsor participates in the International Freedom Festival. Celebrating both Fourth of July and Canada Day. The multi day event brings millions Americans and Canadians to both sides of the Detroit river. The highlight of the Festival is one of the largest fireworks displays in the Midwest. To add an image to my project, I wanted to photograph the fireworks along with an iconic landmark of Detroit. I chose the Renaissance Center, it dominates the Detroit skyline and is the tallest building in Michigan. I had seen images from past Freedom fests and the fireworks are launched from barges on the river. I just need to find a location where I could frame both the Renaissance Center and the fireworks in one shot.
The afternoon of the day of the fireworks, I headed out to the river front to scope out a few shooting locations. As soon as I left my apartment, I was overwhelmed with how many people were already out. Both the sidewalks and street were full of onlookers walking to the riverfront. Woodward as well as Jefferson avenue were blocked off and was full of spectators sitting and waiting for the fireworks to start.
As the sun set, more and more people showed up. Jefferson avenue became an impassable sea of chairs. Sitting on the curb with The Renaissance Center, camera, and tripod in front of me hoping that this is going to be the shot in my mind’s eye. But as soon as the fireworks started, I quickly realized it was not. The barge closest to the Renaissance Center was too far to frame the fireworks together. My first thought of to move to my left to close the gap between the Renaissance Center and the closest barge launching fireworks. But at street level, there were too many obstacles in the way. Trees, light poles and a bunch of junk to ruin the shot. With limited time, I tried to make the best of the situation. Try to relocate 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 sea of people there that idea was not going to work.
Bummed out that my plans were quickly failing, I decided to pack up and head home. Walking west on Jefferson, weaving in and out of folks watching the fireworks, I pass by 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 scene before returning home empty handed and this is what I saw…
The thought never crossed my mind to shoot in front of the Spirit of Detroit.