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.  Shaffer works within the realms of photography, film, and multimedia production. Her work has been featured in The Detroit Free Press, The New York Times, NPR, KCRW, The Atlantic, and other publications. She has produced films, multimedia works, installations, and events which have exhibited around the US. She has coordinated projects for the Bronx Documentary Center, including the 2013 Portfolio Review. Shaffer is a Salzburg Global Seminar Fellow.

Karah Shaffer

Executive Director.  Shaffer works within the realms of photography, film, and multimedia production. Her work has been featured in The Detroit Free Press, The New York Times, NPR, KCRW, The Atlantic, and other publications. She has produced films, multimedia works, installations, and events which have exhibited around the US. She has coordinated projects for the Bronx Documentary Center, including the 2013 Portfolio Review. Shaffer is a Salzburg Global Seminar Fellow.

  Alan Chin   Managing Director. 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, as well as extensively in the United States. He is a contributing photographer to  The New York Times  and many other publications, Adjunct Professor at the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism, and his work is in the collection of the Museum Of Modern Art.  The New York Times  twice nominated Chin   for   the Pulitzer Prize for coverage of the Kosovo conflict in 1999 and 2000. Additionally, Alan is both writing and photographing a book on his ancestral region of Toishan in southern China, and a founding partner of Red Hook Editions: A Publishing Community.

Alan Chin

Managing Director. 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, as well as extensively in the United States. He is a contributing photographer to The New York Times and many other publications, Adjunct Professor at the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism, and his work is in the collection of the Museum Of Modern Art. The New York Times twice nominated Chin for the Pulitzer Prize for coverage of the Kosovo conflict in 1999 and 2000. Additionally, Alan is both writing and photographing a book on his ancestral region of Toishan in southern China, and a founding partner of Red Hook Editions: A Publishing Community.

  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.