Jeremy Deputat makes solo hometown debut at Inner State Gallery 

Straight outta Detroit

By now, photographer Jeremy Deputat’s traveled the world, entering the inner circles of the likes of Kid Rock and Eminem and joining them on tour. His first solo show is titled Nothing Is Forever, and showcases his photos of Detroit music’s A-list and the locales he’s traveled to. It’s a far cry from the time when rock stars hated the guy (more on that later).

Deputat will only say that he grew up in the suburbs (he won’t say which one, only that it was “boring as hell”). He says he found escape in magazines like Hit Parader, Metal Edge, and Thrasher, as well as in the liner notes of cassette tapes. “I started collecting records, and I learned about music by buying a record that looked cool,” he says. “Sometimes I was buying every cassette tape that looked cool.”

But it was NWA’s controversial cover photo for Straight Outta Compton that was an eye-opener for Deputat. “The cover was so menacing and just felt dangerous,” he says. “I loved that photo. My mom and I used to cruise around in her minivan, bumping that tape every day.”

Deputat says growing up he usually had a disposable camera with him just for fun. While in college learning graphic design, he was required to take an intro to photography class. By the time his dad gave him a Canon AE-1 he decided he was going to be a photographer. 

Deputat refers to this period as his “boot camp.” He admits he used to make fake press passes to get his camera into shows, and spent many nights dodging security. “Marilyn Manson saw me on the stage shooting him and dude kept spitting on me,” he says. “Ice-T sprayed me with a bottle of champagne.” But all the while, Deputat was building his book and making connections with people who would go on to move up in the industry. 

A big part of Deputat’s portfolio are his portraits, many of which capture intimate portraits of Detroit music’s A-list: Eminem, Kid Rock, Danny Brown. He says they’re his favorite type of photos to shoot, and that he likes to spend at least 15 minutes just hanging out before he shoots, trying to understand his subject’s personality. 

But as Deputat notes in the title of his show, nothing lasts forever — time is often not on the photographer’s side. “Kid Rock really helped me understand the importance of being quick and getting the shot almost immediately. I used to travel with him and shoot whatever wild shit we were doing,” Deputat says. “There was so many times that he would say to me, ‘Dude, you’re too slow. Nobody got time to wait for you. You missed that shot. Shoot faster.’

“At first, I thought he was just being a dick,” Deputat jokes. But it did help motivate him to become a faster photographer. “Some of the best shots usually for me come in the first few frames, before they have time to put up the front when they know they’re getting photographed,” he says. “That’s when the most genuine moments are captured.”

Another aspect of the show is Deputat’s travel photography, which he says is a natural extension of the music photography. “I spent a week in London shooting Eminem’s shows at Wembley Stadium and just flew into Amsterdam,” he says. “I hadn’t slept in two days, and immediately grabbed the camera and hit the streets. Why would I not try to learn about those cultures and shoot portraits of interesting people and street scenes?

“If you know me, you know I’m a pretty low-key dude,” he says. “I like to fly under the radar when at all possible,” a personality trait probably learned from getting spit on by Marilyn Manson. That may be why Deputat has never held a solo show before. “It just made sense for me to do it with Inner State, rather than another gallery in New York or L.A.,” he says. “At least for this initial exhibit, I wanted to kick it off in Detroit. This is my home and the city that made me.” 

Jeremy Deputat’s Nothing Is Forever opens 7 p.m. to 11 p.m., Friday, July 18 at the Inner State Gallery, 1410 Gratiot Avenue; 313-744-6505; innerstategallery.com.

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