On the way to a friend’s house in Southfield, MI, I drove over an intersection with good visibility and saw a plume of smoke on the horizon. Thinking it would be something close, small, and insignificant, I picked up my buddy and we went to check it out. (We are photographers after all).
Well, as we were heading in the direction of the smoke, we realized it must be bigger than I thought because we didn’t seem to be getting closer. Turns out it was actually 20 miles away.
From what I gather, it was an abandoned factory complex on Detroit’s West Side and the PD have no idea what happened.
To reiterate the scale, we met up with a volunteer firefighter from a northern suburb. He was there because he saw the fire from Auburn hills – almost 40 miles away.
Here are some of the shots.
It was about 10ish years ago, but I remember it rather clearly. I was sitting in my room with headphones on (quite loudly) and I could still hear these thumps. It was probably more “felt.” With the music off and standing on the back porch, the remote wail of sirens filled the evening. The thumps continued.
So, my father and I piled in the van and drove through neighborhoods around us trying to see what happened.
Through the trees we saw the sky glowing, but the color was coming from the ground. As we rounded the K-Mart, we saw what was causing the commotion. There was a blaze we could feel from a quarter mile away. Jets of fire were shooting 50 or 60 feet into the air.
Clearly there was too much hullabaloo for us to really understand what happened, but from the crowd that had gathered, we deduced that a shop owned by a hydroplane boat racer had caught fire. We tried to get closer but were dutifully turned back. The following day, we found out that the tanks of racing fuel had somehow combusted and compromised the acetylene equipment. When I walked down to see the building, I saw that an entire wall had been blown outward as though The Hulk was inside.
A decade later and well into a career in photography, I still think about the pictures I would have gotten had I had a camera with me.
This also brings up the “photo journalism argument.” Is is OK to profit from taking pictures of things or events that destroyed someone’s life or income? I suppose I still haven’t decided which mindset I have. So until that point, I’ll continue to take pictures of things that intrigue me.
As you can probably guess, there was a fire. It was at a tree maintenance company about 3 miles from my house.
My buddy, Carl Amyoni, has a particular set of skills… skills that make him a nightmare for people like IKEA.
Carl is one of those unique individuals that grew up not with The Rugrats or Inspector Gadget, but with the likes of Norm Abrams and Tolstoy – essentially the makings for a modern-day Renaissance Man. However, instead of a hoity-toity Palisade, Carl found enlightenment in things like raw steel, hand carved mallets, and sandpaper of varied grits.
He was well on the way to a life of hand-crafted stuff.
One day, Carl became interested in photography. (He still won’t tell me exactly what happened – it has something to do with Public Access Channels and a substantial quantity of artichoke and onion guacamole).
Anyway – after meeting him through a photography class, it became clear that Carl was more interested in building, himself, what could otherwise be purchased at any department store.
About 3 and a half years have passed and, as such, other friends and I discuss how it’s likely Carl, in the search of imagery-perfection, designed and forged his own camera.
I think it probably went something like this….