Joe Gall / Photographer / Artist / Royal Oak, MI / May 30, 1984
At the age of 15, Joe attempted to shoplift rolls of film (yes, rolls of film). After being caught and placed in the back of a cop car, the police asked Joe what he wanted to do with his life, his response, “I want to be a photographer”. The cop went on to tell him that he would never amount to anything, result, Joe Gall has been on a mission ever since.
Joe Gall is a photographer from the Detroit area with an unmistakable style and persona. Just about everyone in our culture knows him or wants to know him. His work has covered Detroit Weekly several times over, they also named him Best Local Photographer of 2012. He’s been Kid Rock’s personal photographer several times, his work has been used in a widely spread ad campaign for Converse Shoes featuring Wiz Khalifa, not to mention album cover photography for J Dilla, published photos of Eminem, and the list goes on. If you call it luck, you’re sadly mistaken. On any given day over the past 5-10 years you could catch him shooting a concert at the Fillmore in Detroit, documenting a tour across the country, or taking a road trip to Texas to capture SXSW. This is what Joe does. He is there when a moment is to be made.
“I’ve been all around the world and there isn’t a city like this. Life is too short to leave Detroit and I can prove it through my photography.”
His newest venture is rediscovering Detroit. Like most people of the Metro Detroit area, Joe grew up outside the city and was raised on the notion that Detroit is a scary place, “My perception began to adjust as I started documenting concerts and nightlife in the city. I started building a personal respect for the history and potential for positive change”. This past year Joe started diving into abandoned buildings, peering over the edge of rooftops, and hanging with stray dogs — he’s nicknamed them ‘Detroit Dingos’ — to capture the city in his own light.
A city that crumbled before it could even reach its potential, it truly is a place like no other. Is Detroit a lost cause? That is only for us, the new generation to decide, and Joe is readily waiting at the forefront of it all. “I want to explore and document the comeback story. My vision is to use my camera like a portal, to rediscover an amazing one of a kind city”. And so in true Joe Gall fashion, he’s not waiting for someone to tell him where to be or what is too dangerous. He’s positioning himself for the moment when Detroit is remade.
After 14 years in the making and reaching heights most never come close to, we asked Joe, what is next? “After a year of coverage (in Detroit) I’m opening an exhibit to showcase my best work in May. All the proceeds from the work sold will be cycled back into the Detroit economy while preserving the beauty of a city on the rebound.”
The future has yet to be decided, but Joe is not going to let the decisions be made for him. Creating history while history is being created.