“Walkers With the Dawn”: The Epidemic of Residential Fires in the Metro Detroit Area by Brian Day

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Eric’s Note: I am pleased to share the work of Brian Day, a street photographer based in Detroit, Michigan. I have had the great honor of meeting Brian several times – and he is an incredibly down-to-earth and honest guy. Not only that, but he is passionate about storytelling both the beauty and the struggles of the people in Detroit. 

Brian Day: I was born and raised in Detroit, and currently live and work in the metro area. I have been shooting in and around Detroit for about 3.5 years, and tend to focus on black and white photography across a number of genres, including land/cityscape, conceptual, photojournalism and candid/street photography. Like many photographers, I’m working on a number of unfinished series, one of which is titled “Walkers With the Dawn”, centered around the epidemic of residential fires in the Metro Detroit area. Rather than focusing on the literal fire, the series aims to document the emotion and resilience of both the firefighters as well as the residents, who soldier on in spite of challenges. I’ve accumulated an overwhelming number of potential photographs for this series, and hope to distill it down to a finite, cohesive set of a few decent ones in the near future. I believe the majority of my “street photography” somehow exposes my love and optimism for people, and particularly for my hometown. It’s a flat out mess around here sometimes, and some of the photos reflect that more than others, but we are surviving. Street photography has been my tool to sort of observe and chart the timeline, and root for the home team.

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In general, having shot such things as weddings, formal, commercial, corporate work and so on, I’ve found street photography to be far and away the most frustrating genre that I’ve gotten involved in. Not that I’m a glutton for failure, but ironically it’s also the most enjoyable of the genres I’ve shot. Still, my priority has always been to focus on improving as a student of photography first and foremost, rather than worrying about what categories my personal work falls into today. You know, trying to master the rules of composition and exposure before “creatively” breaking them and labeling it art, and all that jazz. To be honest, I haven’t yet figured out if that philosophy liberates or imprisons my output, lol.

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Anyway, I admire most of the usual suspects of street photography lore past and present, so I won’t rattle off yet another long list. But the photographer I’ve been most interested in for several months now has been Alex Webb, because his use of rich color, play of light, and layering of subject matter is so complex, to the point of just being mind boggling. I’ve dipped a toe into some of Moriyama’s work as well, and have been equally humbled at the complexity and fluid techniques that he’s achieved. Stephen Shore also confuses and fascinates me.

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I have no plans to abandon black and white photography, nor do I aspire to imitate the styles of either of those guys – and probably couldn’t in a million years if I tried. But it’s people like them that are making me challenge and rethink any rigidities in my own approach, not just with street photography, but creatively with all of my photography. So, I like to say that I’m a work in progress. As long as I’m shooting this stuff for myself and not for the acceptance or approval of anyone else, I reserve the right to flip the script at any time without notice ;).

Copyright: Brian Day

Walkers with the dawn

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