Tell our Detroit Proud Readers about yourself – and about how you got started in photography.

I am a proud Detroiter, owner of Detroit Respect clothing company and Metro D Store in Rochester Hills, and I have always dabbled in photography. It wasn’t until a few years ago I really dove head first. I noticed on social media that when I went under #Detroit, people were posting photos of the decay and blight of the city. I realized that most of my friends, people in the community, and the world, saw Detroit as that.

Yes, there are many parts of the city that represent this. But, I personally wanted to take pictures from another perspective. Instead of me telling people to stop bashing the city, I wanted to show them the city from a different perspective. I made my New Year’s Resolution to post a positive picture about the city every day. I called it “365 Days of Detroit”. I wanted to show the beauty of the city and challenge myself to be a better photographer.

Tell us about what it’s like exploring Detroit & shooting some of its landmarks? What’s your favorite “undiscovered” area you’ve photographed?

Detroit is super photogenic. You can get so many different angles and views of the city and only have to walk a short distance. You can photograph the same building, but it will look different with a sunrise, during the day or sunset, and by positioning yourself differently.

What is truly amazing about Detroit is there are “undiscovered” areas in plain sight that people don’t take the time to visit. There are places like the Historical Museum, Motown Museum, and Charles Wright Museum – these are places that many people drive by, but don’t take the time to spend a day and explore. I have many friends and talk to many locals that have never been to these places.

My favorite places to photograph would have to be The Merrill Fountain in Palmer Park and Dabls African Bead Museum. The fountain is a piece of Detroit history and such a breathtaking piece of art. It is amazing to think that it was running years ago in front of the Detroit Opera House, then moved over to Palmer Park. Dabls Museum is truly a treasure that needs to be seen. What he (Dabls) has created there is something truly special. His lifelong work surrounds the outside of his store and is a great way to spend some time in the city. Plus, there is a good chance you get to meet Dabls. Without a doubt, one of the nicest people I have ever met.

Favorite photo you’ve taken, to-date?

During last year’s Auto Show, they had the Batman symbol on the Renaissance Center and a life size Bat-mobile made out of Legos. I showed my nephew (who is 5) photos, and he said he wanted to go see them. He wore his Batman costume and we got some cool photos with the Ren Cen in the background and of him in the Auto Show.

An employee asked to take his photo and told him to smile. When he didn’t, she asked him again. In his deepest/scratchiest voice, he said “Batman doesn’t smile.” We also got a photo with him and a few Detroit Police officers. Those pics have to be my favorites. Photos that tell a story and made amazing memories with my favorite person.

We love your captions almost as much as we love your photos. On Instagram, you often pair your photos with captions offering inspiration and some seriously positive vibes. What drives you?

One photo has the ability to tell a story, but sometimes it doesn’t hurt to pair it with words. Sometimes, it may take me longer to find a quote that goes with what I was feeling when I took the photo than it would to actually take the picture. I used to do it more for myself. To really express my voice and thought that people never really looked at the caption. They just focus on the picture and scroll past it. But, I have found that to be the exact opposite. People started to reply back saying things like…“wow I really needed that” or “this is how I am feeling now too.” With all the negative posting on social media, I try my best to put positive vibes out there.

In your opinion, what makes Detroit such a unique place to photograph?

Detroit has it all that most cities don’t and it has a little bit of everything for everyone. Some of the best artists locally (and from all over the world) have showcased their paintings on walls throughout the city. We have amazing historical buildings and churches, a stunning waterfront, phenomenal street views, and the most beautiful people all around.

Describe Detroit in one word.

Home.

In addition to snapping photos, you’re also behind the Detroit Respect brand, right? Talk about how that came to be and what sets your brand apart.

I started Detroit Respect over five years ago with my buddy Michael Haas. We wanted to do our best to put a positive option when people wanted to purchase a shirt with the word Detroit on it. My nephew is a huge inspiration to the line. I want him to see Detroit the way my parents and grandparents introduced it to me.

The clothing line helped me become a better photographer. Starting out, we couldn’t afford a photographer anymore so I borrowed a friend’s camera for a few weeks. I posted on our Facebook a model call for anyone who ever wanted to be a model or to help me out. We received over 400 messages, and it helped me to be more confident behind the lens.

Person or place you’d most love to shoot, but haven’t yet?

I would have to say Berry Gordy, Stevie Wonder, or Smokey Robinson. It would be so amazing to walk around the city with them and listen to stories.

Best place to catch a sunset in the city? (We love Motor City sunsets).

I would have to go with Belle Isle at Sunset point. I have taken a TON of sunsets there and every one looks different.

For those who aren’t familiar with your photography (shame on them…), what is the best way for Detroit Proud readers to find your work?

I put most of my photos on Instagram (@ColinDetroit)…or if you’re on a computer and don’t have Instagram, you can go to ColinDetroit.com. I also have been putting more content on my public Facebook Page. I put some goofy videos when I am bored at work, a video series of “Behind the Photo,” and more.

Vernors or Red Pop?

It’s like trying to say which is your favorite child! Lol. I only drank Vernors warm until I was in my 20s. As most people know, it as “Michigan Medicine.” I love both with ice cream though.

You have an incredibly engaged Instagram following – coolest thing you’ve discovered in a dialogue with your followers – or any unique experiences tied to Instagram you can share?

I have my face as my profile picture because I use it as the social media app it is. Because of Instagram, I have met friends that I will be close with for the rest of my life. There is a community of like-minded people that get together often and take pictures, grab something to eat, volunteer in the community and more.

Anything else you’d like to add?

Be a tourist in your own city.

Can’t get enough of Colin’s snaps? We feel the same way!
Check out this GALLERY of additional photos!

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