Tom Corbett Proves Detroit Is Back
It wasn’t long ago that we brought you Tom Corbett’s latest story with Somerset: a glorious exploration of Paris. Tom was thrilled to be there, honored to shoot in Paris and catch all the sights in the frames of the story. But that was just the first half of a larger project. In fact, Tom and the magazine were venturing into a tale of two cities, Paris was just the first. The second was to be Detroit, Michigan. For many this pairing may not be obvious which Tom is acutely aware of. But he’s quick to draw the comparison for those who don’t see it immediately. “Detroit was originally a French founded city, it’s a French word,” explains Tom. “At first we wanted to draw parallels in terms of the architecture… But Detroit is a super cool city it was more interesting for us to really concentrate on the culture of Detroit and use that as a parallel rather than the actual, physical attributes of the city.” So he and the magazine scouted and dug into what makes Detroit unique, harnessing the energy and funneling it into the images, reflecting the natural vibe of the city into the fashion of the photos.
“The art, the artistic movement in Detroit was a great way to draw a comparison,” says Tom. “It’s a very creative city and I thought it was great to really highlight that.” The most obvious translation of this energy is found in the color that Tom and Somerset used; murals scream their hues in the backgrounds (including one by Tristan Eaton) while bold brickwork and subtle architectural elements create form and offer shape. But Tom rounds out that environmental structure with movement in the frame allowing the fashion to flow around the models who concentrate life into a bold pose or a frozen step. In many ways, the models become a short hand for the population that has begun to fill Detroit in recent years. They are a reflection of the injection of new energy into a city that has had a rough decade.
Tom is well positioned to see this recent change, and is passionate about being a vocal supporter of the city, singing its praises. “I’ve been visiting Detroit for the last maybe five or six years with Somerset, and the young population, the young artists, the young creative population in Detroit has bloomed,” says Tom. “I think it’s going to explode, I really do. I personally think on many levels, especially on artistic levels, it’s on its way back. The restaurants are amazing, the people are amazing, they’re very forward thinking. I find it to be a very inspiring place.” At the end of the day, cities are people. On a map, Paris and Detroit aren’t close at all and despite historical connection they diverged long ago. But the parallel is the people, along with the passion and creativity those people bring. When you get to the heart, it truly is a tale of two cities and Tom helps us remember not to discount the underdog.