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Man Uses Postcards and Photography to Brighten a City in Decay

The old adage "a picture is worth a thousand words" was likely in mind when Michael Hodges, a fine arts writer for The Detroit News, began taking photographs and creating postcards of his home city.

The images, part of a collection called "Unexpected Detroit," depict some of the brighter, more enlightening sides of a city fighting rapid decay. But it is not a tourist pitch, as many of the pictures evoke a sense of isolation and hopelessness among abandoned auto factories and glass-shattered skyscrapers.

Just this week, the U.S. Census Bureau reported Detroit's population has fallen 25 percent since its peak in 1950, and during the 2000s, the city shrunk at an average rate of 65 people per day.

But Hodges has stayed and is attempting to use the power of photographs and postcards to remind people – through real, gritty and honest depictions – of the sort of city that Detroit is.

"That decision and the photographic exploration that followed revolutionized his relationship to Detroit," Hodges' website reads. "It brought the city’s idiosyncratic landscape into sharper focus, and turned Hodges … into a helpless champion of Detroit’s one-of-a-kind elegance, grit and plaintive beauty."

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