Artist Spotlight: James Gates

We’ve all been there – when your phone battery dies because you’ve been using it to take photos. That happened to Detroit photographer James Gates so often, that he decided to finally put down his iPhone and pick up a DSLR camera.


Washington, D.C.



James traveled to Washington D.C. in 2014 and brought his new camera along with him. He loved taking photos of the statues, historical buildings and moments that the area had to offer. He showed the trip images to a coworker, who is a professional photographer, after he returned from the trip and the coworker was quite impressed. This coworker recommended James start taking photos professionally, and James took that to heart – he’s loved it ever since.


His Perfect Shot



For the past four years James has spent his free time walking the Detroit Riverfront and downtown metropolis searching for the perfect shot.


He especially loves shooting around sunset, and the time just after sunset, affectionately called “the blue hour.” He loves everything about it – the light, how the city glows, capturing how the clouds streak the sky.


James has also been playing around with long exposures recently, capturing hundreds of photos and merging them into one photo in time. He likes these photos best, and works only a bit on his computer to enhance each photograph afterward.


An Escape



Although James would love to make photography his day to day work, he uses it as an escape more than anything.


“There’s something about exploring the city and always finding something new. It’s so relaxing to me, it’s a great way to decompress and have fun. There’s really nothing like capturing a great shot and seeing things in a way you’ve never seen them before,” James said.



James is also a previous winner of our Your Photo Here Contest, and you can find his artwork on Level 2, Tower 200, inside the GMRENCEN.


Follow the GMRENCEN on Instagram to see James highlight his favorite downtown locations.


James Gates lives in Detroit and is a legally blind photographer. See his work on his Instagram at @james.m.gates or check out his online portfolio at