With over 110k followers on Instagram, Devin Allen, activist and photographer, first became known for capturing a photo of a young black man running from hundreds of armed police in the streets of Baltimore. The photo, featured on the cover of TIME Magazine in 2015, has served as an indictment of race relations and police brutality in America today.
Since his rise to fame, Devin has used Instagram to share the story of Balitmore, the city he lives and works in, despite many opportunities to leave. From his documentation of the Black Lives Matter movement, to beautiful portraits of family members, friends, and residents of his hometown, Devin’s work creates a raw, rich, and complex narrative of what it means to be black in America in the 21st century.
Now, Devin is sharing a compendium of his work, entitled “A Beautiful Ghetto.” The collection, narrowed down from over 1,000 photographs captures “the personality, beauty and spirit of Baltimore and those who live there, as his camera complicates the stereotype of a ‘ghetto’”. In anticipation of the release of his book, we asked Devin to share a photo essay with us. What we got was iconic and visceral images from his documentation of protests for the Black Lives Matter movement, but also photographs that share the more intimate side of his work. And unlike other photo essays, Devin didn’t spent a lot of time creating captions or words to express the contents of each photo—the imagery alone can speak for itself. Instead, he wrote a poem documenting his feelings and experience as a black man who faces the threat of police brutality every day.