Photographer Alanna St. Laurent had her eyes opened to the beauty in Detroit after she became a photographer. “Photography opened up a new world and showed me all these beautiful buildings that exist in Detroit,” St. Laurent said. “I don’t think I really paid any attention to Detroit’s architecture when I was growing up in the suburbs, in Troy. It was like, this has been here all my life, and I had no idea.”
St. Laurent specializes in urban landscapes and “abandonment” pictures but says she loves any kind of photography that centers on architecture, from cityscapes to close-up shots of abandoned buildings. “Cityscapes at night are very magical,” she said. “They’re quieter at night, and all lit up like a fairy land.”
She caught the photography bug in 2007 after taking a class in digital photography at the College for Creative Studies in Detroit. She had been working as an academic advisor at several colleges but was looking for a change. She liked her work but didn’t love it, and she wanted to do something that really interested her. “Photography happened to be that thing I loved,” she said. “There’s this unending opportunity for images, so many things to shoot.”
Her love of shooting Detroit’s abandoned buildings and its historic architecture lead her to explore other industrial cities around the United States, including Toledo, Cleveland, and Pittsburgh. She says she doesn’t know if she’d have visited the cities she has or come to appreciate the beauty in industrial sites if she hadn’t ended up becoming a photographer.
As an artist, she’s always exploring new subjects and new techniques. Most recently, she’s become enthralled with photography done via drone. She says the only way she could previously get an aerial shot of the city was to talk someone into allowing her onto the roof of a high-rise building, but drone photography has changed that “I love the new perspective that it gives,” she said,
Besides selling her fine art photos, St. Lauren also makes some of her living from shooting for commercial clients, and teaching a course at Schoolcraft College in Livonia. She also hosts Creative Vision Photo Workshops through MeetUp.com.
“I’m just one of many people shooting in Detroit, and I feel lucky that people are willing to pay me money for my photography work,” she said. “I’m very humbled by that.”
To see more examples of St. Laurent’s work, visit www.alannastlaurent.com.
Sarah Rigg is a freelance writer and editor in southeast Michigan. You may reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.