When Tony Majka was growing up in the rough neighborhood of Brightmoor, Detroit, he would watch his grandfather develop photographs in his darkroom. Fascinated by photography, Majka went on to study in a bit in college before moving on to other interests.
Majka moved back to Detroit 10 years ago, only to find a ghost town. The collapse of the auto industry and rising crime rates sent residents fleeing to other parts of the country. Homes were abandoned and some neighborhoods were left almost empty.
Astounded by the devastation, Majka started photographing his hometown with his iPhone. After he found Instagram, he realized that he could use mobile photography as a way to raise awareness about what is happening in Detroit.
"Parts of Detroit are beyond repair," Majka told Connect during a phone interview. "There are blocks and blocks of abandoned homes, sometimes 50 in a row, and only one will have someone living in it."
Majka's photos of Detroit reflect the devastation. Huge, victorian homes sit abandoned with vines covering the walls and wood blocking out the windows. Often, furniture and personal items are left in the house, almost as if people just disappeared.
"Literally, these people just got up and left," said Majka. "And they left their stuff. To me, that’s amazing. There’s baby toys, cribs, albums and records. These people left under the cover of darkness."
With unemployment crippling the city's once-vibrant workforce, an underground economy in the form of gangs has emerged. Majka, when entering a new neighborhood, will first introduce himself to the gangs.
"One of the first things that they say to me is 'no big cameras,'" he said.
Equipped with only his iPhone, Majka enters the abandoned houses, taking quick photos of his surroundings, sometimes including the squatters living there.
While Majka has a DSLR, he never takes it with him when he's photographing abandoned houses.
"When you are out there on the street, going into an abandoned house, you can’t sneak a shot with a big, fancy camera," said Majka. "If the people in the area see you like that, you’re bait."
With more than 350,000 Instagram followers, Majka's photos get thousands of likes and hundreds of comments, many of which reflect on the tragedy of Detroit.
"A lot of the times I get people saying ‘you're so negative.' But it's what I see, it's what I do," said Majka. "It’s not like I'm from Florida where I can take photos of sunsets and beaches."
Sometimes, Majka's photos seem to show the glimmer of hope in Detroit. Majka will frame an abandoned house with wildflowers or swingsets. He also has an eye for color, sometimes keeping a scene black and white with a few pops of color, almost to say "see, it's not so bad here."
Majka's commitment to smartphone photography is evident. He loves the ease of smartphone photography compared to the darkroom days of the past and he feels that his iPhone gives him access to places that his DSLR never could.
"That's how you identify a real urban explorer," Majka said. "They don’t use big fancy cameras, they use smartphones."
Sep 13, 2016
Sep 12, 2016
Sep 12, 2016
Sep 9, 2016
|Dirt Hose by poppyjk|
|European bee-eaters by drvanger|
from A Big Year - birds
|Fat Is Beautiful Guinea 2008 DP by MarioSS|
from - Fat is Beautiful - (Woman's Portrait n Black and White+ A Border)
The a9 boasts impressive capability. As more examples of it in practice pour in, Sony's claims hold up. Watch the a9 track and maintain focus on a rapidly approaching basketball.
Last week, more than a million tonnes of Californian coastline slid into the ocean, taking part of Highway 1 with it. Check out the remodeling in photos taken before and after the landslide.
Even after eighteen months of reviewing the latest, greatest, shiniest and must-buy-me-est new gear, DPReview staffer Carey Rose has continued to use older DSLR cameras for his freelance work. But now, that might be changing. Read more
Sony is the world's leading mirrorless camera brand but remains third for ILCs overall, it's said in a presentation to investors. A focus on high value cameras and lenses should boost operating income, it says. Read more
It's nicknamed the 'Cycloptic Mustard Monster,' and is a 3D printed medium format camera. Read more
The new NanGuang LED lights are battery powered and come with accessories including filters and diffusers.
Have you been telling yourself, "Hey, I really need one of those 8K displays?" A video about Dell's new 8K monitor shows you what to expect. Is it really that much better?
Tamara Lackey, a Nikon ambassador USA and pro shooter, discusses embracing self-consciousness as a means of connecting with subjects.
There's a new Spiderman movie coming out and the poster been generating a lot of online chatter. Mostly about how it looks like the creation of a fevered teenager that just discovered Photoshop.
An honest defense of the system's merits, with photos as proof.
Copyright disputes are no fun at all. 'Binded' is a new startup that aims to simplify the process of registering - and enforcing - copyright for photographers. Read more
Not everyone wants to pay a premium for a long zoom camera. Thankfully, there are many reasonably priced cameras available, though they won't offer the same image quality as enthusiast models. In this updated roundup we look at big zoom cameras with more consumer-friendly price tags. Read more
Think Tank Photo has updated two of its popular bag lines with improvements to functionality. Read more
We’ve all seen Bob Jackson’s Pulitzer Prize winning photo, but there's another.
The sample footage looks good.
It will automatically pick the best camera settings depending on shooting conditions. It even promises enhanced functionality for your camera, like exposure and focus stacking. It already supports many cameras from Canon, Fuji, Nikon and Sony. Read more
As if $13,950 wasn’t enough to pay for a special edition lens, the Leica Store in San Francisco is offering a prototype of said lens for $24,995. Read more
Make those old photos disappear without deleting them forever.
Firmware updates enable 10 fps shooting with adapted A-mount lenses, and faster startup times and better compatibility for 20 fps shooting when using native lenses on the a9.
Fujifilm has released firmware updates for its camera models X-T2, X-Pro2, GFX 50s, X-T20, X100F and X-T1 and updates to three of its software products.
A 22 year-old Romanian photographer uses his DJI Phantom 4 drone to capture unique perspectives of the city where he now lives.
What's it like to ride the waves with champion surfer Kelly Slater? This VR video from Teton Gravity Research gives you a taste.
When Nikon released the full-frame D3 in 2007, it changed the professional photography industry. In this week's Throwback Thursday, Barney remembers a legend. Read more
The new stuff should have better red hues, improved sensitivity and finer grain - but don't worry - will still shift blues to green, greens to purple and yellows to pink.
Ricoh has introduced a new rugged compact camera with a 16MP CMOS sensor, 28-140mm lens, 2.7" LCD and built-in LED macro lights. Read more
This compact drone can shoot HD video using a 2-axis stabilized 12MP camera. Read more
The new Prynt Pocket can print a photo directly from their iPhone simply by inserting the phone into the printer, then snapping a photo. Each print will cost about 50 cents. Read more
Updates for Adobe Camera Raw and Lightroom CC bring support for the Sony A9 and Panasonic ZS70/TZ90, along with bug fixes.
The Triggertrap remote camera control system is no longer sold due to the company folding, but now users will be able to build their own. Read more
The Magic Format Converter comes with internal optics that expand the image circle of full-frame DSLR lenses for use on the Fuji medium format camera. Read more