A couple of months ago, Elijah (16) and I decided to explore Downtown Detroit by riding the People Mover. We had never ridden on the People Mover before and we wanted to try and capture photos from the city while riding on it.
The People Mover is an overhead train which encircles Downtown Detroit, stopping at popular destinations such as The Cobo Center, Greektown, Michigan Aveunue, and eleven other locations.
We rode the People Mover on a Sunday, when the city streets were fairly calm and quiet. There wasn’t a lot of events going on at the time, so for some of the ride, we had our section of the train to ourselves. But when people did board the train, we always seemed to meet very interesting people.
For example, at one stop, a photographer boarded the train and sat across from us. When he noticed my Nikon camera hanging from my neck, he asked me, “Mirrorless?” I looked down at my camera, realizing he was referring to which type of camera I was using: DSLR or Mirrorless.
“Oh no. It’s a DSLR,” I told him. He nodded his head and said my camera looked like it was a mirrorless version.
Elijah and I then struck up a conversation with the photographer and we learned he was a native of Detroit and pursues street photography as a hobby and side business with his wife and older son. The street photographer gave Elijah and I good tips on locations to shoot in the city and the best time to photograph Downtown Detroit.
He told us the best time to photography the city was in the early mornings. We were amazed. The street photographer went on to explain this was the best time to capture the city because it was when the city comes alive.
I made a mental note to one day venture out of comfort zone and explore the city after midnight. Maybe when my little ones are a bit older or if Travis (my husband) and I ever get a sitter, we could explore the city later at night.
Soon the photographer’s stop neared, and he got off the train at The Renaissance Center. He was going to photograph a tattoo expo.
As we continued to ride the People Mover, a street musician–a trombone player I’ll call Mr. Trombone– boarded the train. Mr. Trombone wore safety goggles over his eye glasses, which were secured with red tape in the middle. He was carrying a book bag on his back and he wore two different rosaries around his neck. He had a “Made in Detroit” hat on his head with several different buttons on it, including an American Flag button on the bill of his hat.
The trombone player sat next to two ladies and across from a family with a small child. All was quiet as the People Mover closed its doors and started to ease its way down the single-track. Mr. Trombone was jolly and in good spirits.
He seemed taken with the small child sitting across from him. “Do you like Elmo?” he asked the little boy.
All of a sudden, Mr. Trombone picked up his trombone and started playing the Sesame Street theme song. The little boy smiled and all the people on the train laughed and smiled as the trombone player played “The Elmo Song” for the little boy.
I hummed along to the tune, thinking of all the times I watch Sesame Street and Elmo’s World at home with my own two small children (ages 3 and 11 months).
Of course, I had to get the shot. I had to capture this heartwarming moment of a street musician playing “Sesame Street” for a little boy on a moving city train. So I framed my subject (Mr. Trombone) and pressed down on the shutter button. When the train came to its next stop, Mr. Trombone stood up to get off the train. Before exiting he came over to me and asked, “Did you take my picture?”
Feeling like a little kid caught with her hand in the cookie jar, I nodded my head and gave a little smile. I was afraid he was going to be upset with me for taking his photograph.
But Mr. Trombone surprised me and gave a big smile and said, “I’m the baddest trombone player in the world!” I hurriedly snapped a portrait of the trombone player before he walked away.
And then he quickly exited the People Mover and went on his way.