Detroit: Motown. Gritty city. Robocop.
The mind conjures varied images when you think of the working-class Michigan city known as the cradle of American manufacturing. But times are hard in the Motor City. Unemployment, scandal and a seemingly unshakeable penchant for generating bad news continue to dog the place the auto industry put on the map.
Photographer Noah Stephens aims to change that. With his photo project and blog, "The People of Detroit," the Motown visual artist has set out to put a literal happy face on the residents of one of the oldest cities in the Midwest.
Stephens said the project, a collection of photos of everyday people accompanied with flavorful blurbs about them, uncovers a populace filled with eccentricity, warmth and, yes, pride. Begun in 2010 and ongoing, the project recently received funding from the Knight Foundation and has garnered regional praise.
"Media coverage of Detroit tends to focus on the many things that are wrong with the city and its people," Stephens told HLN."I created 'The People of Detroit,' because I wanted to -- in some small way -- give balance to Detroit's representation in media. I'm the kind of person who enjoys correcting errant beliefs. I hope the 'TPOD' corrects the errant belief that Detroit is solely a heaping pile of ruins."
"I'm going to use that funding to do an exhibition that will raise the profile of TPOD and cause people to re-think what it means to live in post-industrial American cities."