Alleys & Ruins no. 63, Smash (2004, Detroit, MI, 1:30am)

The neo-gothic Metropolitan building was built in 1924 and was for a time the home to many of the city's finest jewelers. It was closed permanently in 1977, making for a rather short life for such a beautiful building.

As is often the case, I was more interested in the back of the building and I showed up with my friend Tom Holt, a lieutenant in the Detroit Fire Department. He carried a baseball bat and the few people we saw that night, long after midnight, received a swift and angry threat from Tom, who would raise the bat and tell them to keep fucking walking. It was a very effective strategy.

I call my approach Guerilla Photography. You have limited time to get in, get the job done and get out safely – I try not to waste time. You’re roaming in the shadows of the inner city’s alleys – places the police tell you to avoid, especially at night. Staying vigilant for danger is constant and crutial. Good running shoes are part of my gear, as is a good escape plan. And in my black jacket and jeans, I’m camouflaged under cover of the night. I don’t carry a gun, but my 20-pound tripod can make a hell of a baseball bat – preferably without the camera still attached. I'm on an adrenaline-fueled mission. I sneak into the bowels of the urban jungle, where hours later my work is done and I get out swiftly, having accomplished my task and avoided detection.

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Xavier Nuez

319 N. Albany Ave, Studio 1N5

Chicago, IL 60640

510-648-6810

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