Facing Change: Documenting Detroit 

is a community photojournalism initiative creating a documentary record of Detroit by Detroit-area photographers. We accomplish this through an annual educational Fellowship; monthly public events presenting acclaimed photographers; and showcasing our Fellows’ work via public art, exhibitions, and publications.  We recast the narrative of Detroit communities using our voices and vision, and broadcast that narrative locally and globally. 

It all started when...

founders Alan Chin and Karah Shaffer took a road trip from New York to Detroit in the frigid winter of 2015. As they rode across the countryside, they discussed the landscape of documentary photography in Detroit and recognized that Detroit was lacking a community focused on documenting its own stories, concerns, and culture.  Beginning with an event at Red Bull House of Art in late 2015, they have built a discussion around the issues our city wishes to change, highlight, and celebrate.

To date, Facing Change: Documenting DETROIT has worked with 37 emerging and early career Detroit photographers. Some are self-taught, some are formally trained, and all are from diverse backgrounds. They include immigrants, veterans, recent transplants from other cities, and some have roots that go back in Detroit many generations. Their careers include journalism, photography, small business, and in education, healthcare, and community service. Their perspectives and histories come together to recast Detroit's narrative, telling true stories of Detroit’s people and culture at home and afar. We have presented work as larger than life banner installations on the sides of buildings and in large windows, projected over 100 feet wide onto the exterior wall of the Detroit Institute of Art, and at regular monthly events featuring panel discussions and presentations with renowned photographers based both in Detroit and across the globe. 

Our Team

Karah Shaffer Executive Director, visual artist and multimedia producer.  Shaffer’s work has been featured in The New York Times, NPR, KCRW, and more. She is Associate Producer on the recently released documentary 'Land Grab', addressing the issues of land use on Detroit's east side.  Shaffer has coordinated projects for the Bronx Documentary Center, notably the 2013 Portfolio Review.

Karah Shaffer

Executive Director, visual artist and multimedia producer.  Shaffer’s work has been featured in The New York Times, NPR, KCRW, and more. She is Associate Producer on the recently released documentary 'Land Grab', addressing the issues of land use on Detroit's east side.  Shaffer has coordinated projects for the Bronx Documentary Center, notably the 2013 Portfolio Review.

Alan Chin Detroit Project Creative Director and Facing Change: Documenting America photographer. Chin was born and raised in New York City’s Chinatown. Since 1996, he has worked in China, the former Yugoslavia, Afghanistan, Egypt, Iraq, Central Asia, and Ukraine. He is a contributing photographer to Newsweek, The New York Times, and Reuters Analysis & Opinion. He is an instructor and adviser at the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism, and his work is in the collection of the Museum of Modern Art.

Alan Chin

Detroit Project Creative Director and Facing Change: Documenting America photographer. Chin was born and raised in New York City’s Chinatown. Since 1996, he has worked in China, the former Yugoslavia, Afghanistan, Egypt, Iraq, Central Asia, and Ukraine. He is a contributing photographer to Newsweek, The New York Times, and Reuters Analysis & Opinion. He is an instructor and adviser at the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism, and his work is in the collection of the Museum of Modern Art.

Huseyn Mehrpay Operations Manager. A Detroit area native and graduate of the University of Michigan Ross School of Business. Mehrpay is an accomplished audio engineer and music producer, deeply passionate about Detroit's artistic community and cultural legacy. He has been involved with Documenting Detroit since the early days of planning.

Huseyn Mehrpay

Operations Manager. A Detroit area native and graduate of the University of Michigan Ross School of Business. Mehrpay is an accomplished audio engineer and music producer, deeply passionate about Detroit's artistic community and cultural legacy. He has been involved with Documenting Detroit since the early days of planning.

Our Mission

Facing Change: Documenting Detroit’s mission is to create a documentary record of Detroit by Detroit-area photographers through education, discussion, and multimedia production, engaging local and global communities.