Saginaw, MI

More Than a Simon & Garfunkel Lyric

In the Simon and Garfunkel song America, a line from the song goes, “It took me four days to hitchhike from Saginaw.” Growing up two and a half hours north of there, that song reference was the first I’d ever heard of Saginaw. People would talk about how it’d fallen on hard times and that it wasn’t a place to exit your car. Take the time to look though, and Saginaw has some beautiful people and architecture.

Saginaw, MI
Camera: Mamiya 7

After years had past—and with a recently-earned photojournalism degree added—wouldn’t you know it, I was accepted as a photo intern at the Saginaw News. Naysayers be damned, I’m going to Saginaw. The thing about going there, or any community for that matter, is that people live there. This is why I didn’t care what type of reviews it received. To connect with fellow humans and to hear their stories is, in many ways, the ultimate gift. It’s also a fulfilling way to live life and grow as an individual.

Buoys being lowered into Lake Huron. Saginaw News. 2005
Camera: Canon 10D

Native Americans lived in Saginaw until a boom in the lumber industry resulted in the expansion of the city. Manufacturing industries then took hold in the community and again brought numerous jobs to the area. Crime and recession has indeed dealt some hard blows to Saginaw since then.

The former Saginaw News building. Saginaw, MI
Camera: Mamiya 7

I try to return to Saginaw any chance I have to take a sojourn down memory lane and to take stock of how the area is faring. The last time I was there it must’ve been about a year ago, the streets were eerily quiet, even more than I remember them. The remnants of once powerful structures now resembled skeletons and brick bodies of their former glorious selves.

Saginaw, MI
Camera: Mamiya 7

These images here are not a true representation of Saginaw as a whole, of course. Most of these images are from the downtown area. Outside of downtown are neighborhoods, shopping centers and parks. On most of my recent trips there I’d have my Mamiya 7 medium-format camera. This would result in me slowing down and carefully absorbing the surroundings.

While at the newspaper, I covered many notable stories. Some of my favorites were simply the slices of life I’d see everyday or groups that were taking initiatives to improve their communities. While driving through neighborhoods with dilapidated homes, I’d see children playing together and having the best time. Or friends hanging out and laughing together. No matter how bad a community may seem, there are lots of bright moments happening there, every day.

Volunteers cleaning up park. Saginaw News. 2005
Camera: Canon 10D

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