Born and raised in Detroit, my photographic works examine a city that is dramatically polarized. An influx of youth and wealth in the downtown Detroit area stands in stark contrast to the people and neighborhoods in this city that are still facing sobering challenges. Still, I take an optimistic view of the city in my project “Planet Detroit,” a reflection on the pride and optimism shown by both old and new Detroit natives.

At the same time, I have chosen to take a look at the city from a unique angle in my series “Detroit From Above,” which examines the urban landscape from an aerial perspective. The city becomes an intricate tapestry when viewed from the air.

The aerial perspective viewed in conjunction with the street level images offers a distinctive, dual perspective—both literally and metaphorically—on the city. These two projects endeavor to illuminate the nuances of life in and around Detroit. The city is neither Nirvana nor Sheol; depending on where you stand, its reality is somewhere in between.

—Brian Day

Editors’ note: We discovered Brian Day’s work thanks to the organizers behind “Documenting Detroit.” Day was a fellow in their program for emerging and early career photographers. Discover the other 2016 fellows and learn more about this important and inspiring initiative.