Rolling Out

DJ Andre Terrell captures the essence of Detroiters in new photo exhibit

DJ Andre Terrell captures the essence of Detroiters in new photo exhibit
Photo credit: Qiana M. Davis for Steed Media

Photographer and DJ Andre Terrell showcases the growing diversity of Detroiters in the new photo exhibit, The People.

What started as a self-help assignment to get out of a creative rut soon took on a life of its own. Armed with just a white backdrop, Terrell set up shop wherever he was in the city, engaging passers-by to participate in his project. The end result: a masterful work of art that gives Terrell’s audience an unfiltered look into Detroit’s ever-changing demographic.

Terrell’s frequent visits to the Great Lakes Coffee Roasting Company’s Midtown location ultimately led to his work being reviewed and featured inside the trendy Detroit coffee house. The complexity and uniqueness of Terrell’s subjects fit right in along with the cafe’s eclectic mix of hipsters, college students, Michigan craft beers, wines and signature coffee drinks like the earthy Five Spice latte. The cafe makes it a point of showcasing Detroit creatives on a regular basis and welcomed Terrell’s vision.

Rolling out met up with the self-proclaimed “Cool DJ” to scope out the photo exhibit and dish on The People’s success.

Describe The People.

The People includes black-and-white portraits of people from Royal Oak, Detroit, Ferndale, Birmingham and all over metro Detroit, showing Detroit people as they are.

Were there any special criteria you were looking for when selecting people to photograph?

Nope. I just engaged people in what I was doing and asked them to pose naturally, no extra or cheesy expressions. It’s funny because you’ll see people doing things like eating chips, that’s what they were doing. There’s a guy smoking a cigarette, a guy playing a funny instrument and a guy riding his bike. It was real dynamic. These people were as they were. They were going to different places. One guy had a visitor sticker on his shirt. Another girl was going to work. It was just a cool engagement piece.

In your opinion, what is interesting about Detroiters? What makes Detroiters more unique than others you’ve encountered other places?

Detroit is a blue-collar town. We have a certain grit and you see that in the portraits. They are very clear, very sharp and you can see a lot of texture. You can see that texture as it relates to them living in a particular environment. It’s very diverse. You have a recreational component with people riding their bikes and on their way to work. It’s simple. That was the purpose of using the white background — to separate the actual environment from that person so you can zero in on how that person is. It creates a dynamic point of view.

Will there be a follow-up exhibit?

The follow-up project will be tentatively titled the Heart of the City and will feature notable people that are the lifeblood of their community. That will include not only photos but video and a written article as well. Most, if not all of the videos, will be featured in the Street Pass app, a digital publication that promotes art, community and culture events. The videos will be on there and we will have different events that will profile each individual selected and photographed for the month.

Tell us more about the Street Pass app.

The Street Pass app was born from a place of what I feel was a necessity. You want to find cool events that are not just your everyday nightclub scene. Originally, it began as, which is the parent company. All the information was on the Street Pass and then you would buy a Street Pass membership card from You could take that card and go to different businesses to get discounts and VIP access to different things. It was kind of challenging because initially, it was Black business-oriented and many years ago, we hadn’t crossed the digital divide. As I progressed and continued to develop the idea, web 2.0 was coming out, which was the mobile web and the apps. So I decided to take the card concept and make it into an app. Of course, all the content followed. All the events, photos, articles, locations of different businesses, the directory — it’s all in the app now. The Street Pass is the app so now you can get those discounts in the palm of your hand.

How can we find out more information about future exhibits and other Street Pass events?

For more information on Street Pass, visit and download the Street Pass app for events that are coming up locally. I’m currently trying to get some funding and some sponsors for Heart of the City but in any case, it will be put together.

Catch Andre Terrell’s The People on display at Great Lakes Coffee Roasting Company- Midtown Coffee and Winebar | 3965 Woodward Avenue, Detroit, Michigan 48201

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