The pervasive beauty of street photography lies in its ability to frame our disregarded surroundings as centre stage during a lively performance. Everyday passersby become the lead and supporting roles in a relatable screenplay about daily life, freezing interesting candid moments into a set of narrative stills that might have otherwise gone overlooked. For photographer Oli Kellett, this genre is pushed a step further in his series Cross Road Blues, where vibrant pockets of natural light poke through surrounding architecture to spotlight his subjects, as though they are delivering a crucial set of lines during a play.
The binding context in each of Kellett’s images is their setting at a crossroads – a familiar place and metaphor for the tension we encounter throughout life. “We live in an era of fake news, political polarization and algorithmic echo chambers,” Kellett explains. “Our experience of the world is fractured as we live out multiple identities on and offline. But crossroads are a democratic place; we all have to wait.”
Kellett’s images harness the incredible power of ambient light. As it passes through buildings, dancing across the street below, each subject appears in a contemplative state, whether alone or huddled together with a group of other people waiting to cross. Kellett reflects, “On average, we will spend five years ‘waiting’ during our lifetime. Being held at a ‘DON’T WALK’ sign allows us a few seconds, and occasionally minutes, to just be with ourselves and remember who we are.”
While Kellett’s images stand as striking compositions on their own, he hopes that as people spend time with the photographs, they absorb the metaphorical weight of the visuals, contemplating our own existence in a fast-paced, modern world. “At this time of uncertainty and change in America’s history, I’m looking for a moment where individuals are dwarfed by what surrounds them, appearing lost but searching for something,” he explains. “They then go on their way, whichever direction that may be.”