Reviewing Bradford Frost’s Reveal Your Detroit



If you had to portray your day-to-day life in Detroit with 27 photos, which images would make the cut? In 2012, the DIA joined forces with forty-five community organizations and asked citizens that exact question. The result is a beautiful photographic journey narrated by author Bradford Frost that winds through Detroit from a city native’s perspective.

Tasked with finding meaning in the daily fabric of their lives, participants eagerly set out, equipped with nothing but a disposable camera and a notion of the Detroit they wanted to share with the world, and snapped their lives in 27 photos.

Often, it feels as if Detroit is a city that is cast in grim HDR “ruin porn” shot by professionals and budding enthusiasts who wish to show the vampiric, haunting beauty in piles of destruction and rubble. Reveal Your Detroit does not hide from the city’s abandoned buildings and lots, but it doesn’t dramatize them either. It shows them as they are; places where people and business once prospered.

True, it does show abandonment, but the book’s focus is on life. Day-to-day life. So we get a visual trek through Detroit with images that can feel gritty and nostalgic; retro and modern; natural and industrial.

It is an intimate look at the city; a view that is driven by people recognizing their own creative power through collaboration with other community groups, all in an effort to paint an accurate portrait of Detroit. The 200 images in Reveal Your Detroit are saturated with city life; eye-popping graffiti, striking historic landmarks, skeletons of industry, and famous businesses that help define the city.

The strength of the book lies in the fact that none of the images are taken by professional photographers. It is a book that gives residents the power to frame how outsiders see the city and gives them agency in showing what they love about it, exploring its nooks and crannies, and also its famous landmarks from pleasantly bizarre angles. The images are familiar to Detroiters, yet perhaps foreign to those accustomed with the media hyped destructoporn (which has its own tag on the Huffington Post. This book is a must-have coffee table book for anyone with a love for Detroit. It’s also for anyone interested in taking a closer look.

Click here to preview some of the project’s images on Flickr or check out their Facebook page. More info about the book is available here.

We welcome readers to submit letters regarding articles and content in Detroit Metro Times. Letters should be a minimum of 150 words, refer to content that has appeared on Detroit Metro Times, and must include the writer's full name, address, and phone number for verification purposes. No attachments will be considered. Writers of letters selected for publication will be notified via email. Letters may be edited and shortened for space.

Email us at

Support Local Journalism.
Join the Detroit Metro Times Press Club

Local journalism is information. Information is power. And we believe everyone deserves access to accurate independent coverage of their community and state. Our readers helped us continue this coverage in 2020, and we are so grateful for the support.

Help us keep this coverage going in 2021. Whether it's a one-time acknowledgement of this article or an ongoing membership pledge, your support goes to local-based reporting from our small but mighty team.

Join the Metro Times Press Club for as little as $5 a month.