Photographer Justin Milhouse on His Style and Creative Influences

The Detroiter embraces a ‘relaxed, comfy-cozy’ aesthetic
justin milhouse
Justin Milhouse at his Detroit loft wearing a Distinct Life shirt, Bird Brain shorts, and Adidas Yeezy shoes.

Justin Milhouse is always working — he says he feels weird if two days go by and he hasn’t created something. But for the 32-year-old photographer and videographer, it never feels like work; he’s just doing what he loves.  

It all started as a creative outlet when he was in college. He picked up a camera and began showcasing his own projects and collabs with friends on his website, then known as Fresh-Cool-Dope. More than a decade later, Milhouse has made a career of producing eye-catching content. His lens has captured experiences in Morocco, Italy, Cuba, and Bali. He’s documented NBA All-Star Weekend in Chicago; snapped photos of Lil Wayne, Travis Scott, and 2 Chainz; and partnered with Budweiser, General Motors, and David Yurman. 

But Detroit is still home base. It’s where he’s shot colorful and moody portraits of local creatives from his home studio; the Pistons in action at Little Caesars Arena; and Tommey Walker’s Detroit Vs Everybody collaboration with Gucci. It’s where he’s made art of everyday moments, such as fresh snowfall on Woodward Avenue and the skyline at sunset, and created touching short films about his strongest support system — his family. 

Here, we ask the photographer to turn the lens on himself and share a bit about what fuels his creative spirit.

My style is … Kind of a streetwear, relaxed, comfy-cozy style. But kind of tailored, too. I wear a lot of my friends’ clothes that they make — so, like, Detroit Vs Everybody, I support them. I got a lot of friends that make their own clothes or create their own things. I do like Pyer Moss and [Fear of God’s] Essentials. 

I can’t leave home without … These brass bracelets from Morocco. I always like to have something on my wrist, and looking at them always reminds me of Morocco and the time I had. That, and the camera — if I’m leaving the city, I gotta have my camera with me. 

My favorite place is … Morocco was just amazing to me. It was just like something out of a movie, for real. Just the people, the energy — it was just a good time out there. We drove like eight hours through the Atlas Mountains to go to the Sahara Desert. Morocco is where I felt like I probably connected with individuals the most that were from there. 

On my playlist: I’ve been listening randomly to Jay-Z’s “Can I Live.” But it goes all over the place. I’ll go from rap to some jazz music to some alternative music. Even when I’m editing, I got an editing playlist and it’s a lot of mellow, slower songs, even some jazz in there. And I got my driving playlist, where it’s all the rap. 

My summer in the city: I really enjoy going to Belle Isle in the summertime with a few friends. I’m about to pick up biking this year, too. I plan on biking back and forth to Belle Isle this year. So, that’s kind of my thing to do. Even if it’s just by myself, I just go out there to relax, think about things, and enjoy nature. 

You should never … Let others dictate how you create and how you do things. As long as you’re happy with it and you’re satisfied, that should be enough. 

View Milhouse’s work at jmilhouse.com


This story is featured in the July 2021 issue of Hour Detroit magazine. Read more stories in our digital edition. And click here for more MI Style. 

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