In recent memory, the narrative surrounding Detroit has been “a broken record of train stations, crime stats, [and] sports teams,” says Karah Shaffer. She is a native Detroiter and the executive director of Documenting Detroit, a local journalism initiative that aims to nurture the city’s photography community through fellowships and public, multimedia exhibits.
Documenting Detroit was first dreamed up during a road trip between Shaffer, an artist and producer, and Alan Chin, a photojournalist and instructor at the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism. Chin, now Documenting Detroit’s creative director, was inspired by the Documentary Center in the South Bronx, a nonprofit gallery and education space founded by photojournalist Michael Kamber in 2011. Chin wanted to create something that would, “significantly impact neighborhoods, communities, and photographers—voices that don’t normally get represented, [such as those] just starting out or working three different jobs,” he says.