HOMETOWN: Goodrich, MI
CURRENLTY LOCATED: Detroit, MI
DAY JOB: The Detroit Princess
A DISPOSABLE ART SHOW: Learn More
LOCAL PHOTOGRAPHER, ERIC HERGENREDER, ORIGINALLY FROM FLINT, SEES DETROIT AS HIS GREATEST MUSE.
We’ve always been inspired by the dreamers and doers of the world; people who light their own fires inside, who seek to live a life of purpose and passion and whether loudly or quietly, large or small, they keep moving forward to better their corner of the world. No matter their roots, these people embody the entrepreneurial and renaissance spirit, the grit and soul of Detroit.
We joined Eric Hergenreder, a local street photographer at Lightbox Performance in Detroit’s west side for his latest photography show titled, “A Disposable Art Show,” and chatted about his personal work and why he’s committed to curating multiple shows each year in order to engage the community around photography and connect with fellow creatives and photographers.
DESCRIBE YOUR STYLE AND YOUR WORK.
“I guess my style in my work now is really, kind of, street photography but also focused on history and architecture. I take a lot of photos of cool buildings that interest me because I’ve always enjoyed history, but then I got bored of that so I started to try incorporating people into my photos as well. I camp out by buildings in neighborhoods that I like, take the neighborhood in and see if I can capture something unique there, just seeing what happens.”
IS THERE SOMETHING IN PARTICULAR ABOUT DETROIT THAT INSPIRES YOU? OR DO YOU THINK THAT YOUR WORK WOULD BE SIMILAR IF YOU LIVED IN ANOTHER ENVIRONMENT?
“I first started taking photos in Flint so it translated to Detroit because I was in school in Ann Arbor. Flint was an hour and fifteen minutes from Ann Arbor while Detroit was only thirty minutes so I liked that and started off liking that grittiness and learning about the history and things going on in Detroit. There’s also just so much cool stuff going on here and being able to host art shows as easily as you can here is awesome. Art shows are something I’m very passionate about. I wouldn’t say it’s an easy city to be an artist, but being an artist here comes naturally for me I guess.”
WHAT DOES THE DETROIT ART SCENE AND PHOTOGRAPHY SCENE LOOK LIKE TO YOU?
“The Detroit photography scene, and art scene in general, is very very open but I think there’s lots of untapped potential here. That’s kind of how I got started with hosting art shows and showcases and doing meet-ups. I knew all of these amazing artists and photographers but no one was really putting shows on because there wasn’t really an outlet for that, So, I started doing art shows to showcase the work but I think there are still hundreds and hundreds of artists that still need to have more light shed on their work.”
DO YOU HAVE ANY ARTISTS OR PHOTOGRAPHERS THAT YOU LIKE TO FOR INSPIRATION OR ADMIRE?
“I really take a lot of inspiration from older street photographers - nobody super in particular - but especially street photography in New York, from the 40’s to even now, but mostly into the 80’s. There were a lot of vibrant things going on in New York then and you can talk about it in books and stuff all you want but to actually see it is very important. And even today, not necessarily just in New York but anywhere, street photography, I think, is important. A cell phone image does some things justice but an actual photo with a camera or whatever you have available is important because you want out with the purpose of capturing something and trying to tell a story.”
WHY HAVE YOU CHOSEN TO WORK MOSTLY WITH TRADITIONAL FILM AS OPPOSED TO DIGITAL?
“I actually started with a digital camera like most people did that are my age, but then I always liked antiques. I used to go to antique stores with my mom so I had a few cameras that I had bought at antique shops so I figured I would give them a go. I have a few friends who really pushed me to shoot film so I tried it, fell in love with it immediately. It was like picking up a camera all over again. It was completely new and different. As I’ve learned more about it, the main thing for me is that I really don’t like editing photos. I don’t have a problem with edited photos I just don’t like doing it myself. When I shoot with film, I don’t really need to make the color corrections because each different film is basically like a color correction in itself. I also like how much it slows me down. My main camera is a Pentax 6x7 so if I shoot two rolls, I get twenty photos. Going out and shooting two rolls, I’ll get the same number of usable images as if I went out and shot two thousand with my digital camera. I can just process it in my kitchen and it’s done. I don’t have to go through the editing in Lightroom and Photoshop. There’s a simplicity in the slowing down of film that really draws me to it.”
WHEN YOU’RE NOT OUT PHOTOGRAPHING WHAT DO YOU DO WITH YOUR TIME?
“I work 60 hours a week on a boat in the Detroit River so when I’m not taking photos, I’m normally doing that. Or, there are a lot of things in Detroit that I like to do like music events - there’s lots of great music here. I like going bowling sometimes. Just exploring the city, even if I’m not taking photos of it, just seeing as much as I can in the city because there’s so much here, a lot of stuff that people don’t really go to because it’s not in the hotbeds of Detroit. So, just exploring and hanging out with friends. I don’t really leave because there’s so much to do here.”
WHAT IS SOMETHING PEOPLE MIGHT BE SURPRISED TO LEARN ABOUT YOU.
“Normally that would be that I have a communications degree from the University of Michigan but you already know that. I guess people would be surprised to know that I don’t drive. I don’t have a car. I bike everywhere. I bike sometimes upwards of fifty to sixty miles in a day just going around taking photos, with three cameras and a backpack, which definitely is not the most productive way to do things. But it’s a lot of fun and I get exercise and I think you see a lot of things on a bike that you wouldn’t see in a car. I’ve caught things because of that and you fit in more on a bike. You’re not being obtrusive getting out of your car and trying to enter these people’s day by taking their photos. You’re just riding your bike by, take a photo, it’s very under the radar and I like that.”