Seven months before Brandon Stanton started Humans of New York, Detroit native Noah Stephens began documenting the people of Detroit, equipped with just his trusty DSLR camera and a desire to see the real face—and faces—of his city in a project entitled The People of Detroit. “My goal was to show the world a vibrant, attractive side of life in the city seldom examined in national or international media,” says Stephens of the impetus for the project. “On some level, it worked. In 2011, a creative director in China saw the project on Flickr and hired me to shoot an ad campaign for McDonald's in Shanghai. I've been working full-time as a photographer ever since.”