Detroit, Michigan is an American city like no other. A once-great symbol of the nation’s industry and culture, years of continued economic decline and population loss took its toll on Motor City.

Recent efforts at restoration and development have seen the Midwestern hub gradually begin bouncing back, with its downtown area boasting new developments, attractions and ambitious restorations of historical projects.

Despite improvement efforts in the heart of the city, Detroit’s surrounding suburbs have yet to see the benefit from these restorations; violence, drugs and poverty continue to run rampant in these rough neighborhoods, an unfortunate daily occurrence for these suburbs’ many residents.

Having grown up in these surroundings, one man has made it his mission to capture and share the other side of Detroit with the world through the power of photography and social media.


Vuhlandes, a twenty-something Detroit native with a penchant for photos and exploration, dives deep into Detroit’s grittier areas, coming back with raw, hard-hitting, documentary-style photos of street life, gang culture and other angles of Detroit rarely seen elsewhere.


Capturing Motor City through his unique lens has ignited Vuhlandes’ passion for photography and earned him a sizable fan base along the way; some 90,000 Instagrammers follow his adventures on the streets of Detroit every day.


We caught up with Vuhlandes, who kindly shared his story and incredible work with us.

What’s your story, Vuhlandes?

My name is Vuhlandes, which is actually my real middle name. I am 22, from the west side of Detroit, Michigan. I grew up in a rough neighborhood where I’ve witnessed a lot of violence, drugs, and other crazy things at a young age, which helped shape me into the person I am today. I am very humble and grateful for everything. To wake up every single day is a blessing.



How did you get started in photography?

I have always been a fan of a good photos since I was young, but I got started in photography about 3 years ago because of a man named Dennis King. I was looking through his slides and prints and it inspired me to go and buy a camera and start capturing life around me. Social media channels like Instagram and Tumblr inspired me to get out there and start exploring my city.



In your words, how would you describe Detroit?

Detroit is a very historic, and welcoming place. A lot of people have a bad misconception of Detroit. Although what you hear is very real, the people of Detroit are loving. There are bad places that you shouldn’t go if you’re not familiar with the area, but I think that can be said for every city in the world. All in all, Detroit is such an amazing city.



What inspired you to start capturing images of life in your city?

When I first started photography, I was on social media a lot. I wanted to capture the photos I saw on Instagram that others were taking. Then I finally realized that my city isn’t New York, Chicago, or Los Angeles. I decided that if I wanted those types of photos, then I’d go to those places.


So, I started capturing what I see when I walk out my front door, or what I see when I walk down the street, or what I was around on the daily. These photos felt more real and a lot more significant to me. That’s when I fell deeply in love with photography. My photos started to mean something to me and my passion for it grew even bigger.



What can you tell us about your fans?

My fans are the coolest. Never in my life would I have thought 90,000 people would like what I do so much, that they not only follow me but support me. I would say that those people are composed of people just like me; people with a passion for something in life, people who love to see others succeed, people who know that the world isn’t always sunshine and roses.



Those people are real and genuine. They’re fans of photography no matter the subject matter. They’re people who love me and I love them as well.

You capture some pretty confronting images from the streets – have you ever been in a tight spot?

I have never been in dangerous situations while taking pictures. Now that I do photography, I do my best to steer clear of anything that can harm me or the people around me. Before photography there was something going on every single day. Nothing too serious, but definitely nothing the average person goes through on a daily basis.



What are your ambitions in the near future?

I want to continue taking pictures of my surroundings for as long as I live. I plan on helping out everyone around me, because I don’t want to see anyone struggle – I know what that feels like. I’m launching a brand and would love to see it work out. I’m still very young. I don’t know what the future holds but, I’m hopeful that it will be great.



What are your recommendations for those visiting Detroit?

Come and have a good time. Hit me up. I’m always willing to give a tour of my beautiful city!

Check out Vuhlandes and his work at Follow Vuhlandes’ Detroit adventures on Instagram and 500px.