Devin Allen: World Photography Day interview

“I want to create a whole chain of photographers. I want to spread everything that’s coming through me to the masses in my community, opening up doors to different places.”

So says Devin Allen, sitting in the front room of Jubilee Arts in West Baltimore where he’s running a two day workshop for 20 local young people as part of the Red Bull Amaphiko Baltimore Academy. They were selected by posting images on Instagram, with Allen selecting his favourites.

Allen is arguably the foremost photographer of his generation. The self-taught Baltimorean ended up on the cover of Time Magazine with his image of the 2015 uprising that followed the death of Freddie Grey while in police custody. Since then he’s been exhibited in the Smithsonian, received a prestigious Gordon Parks fellowship and been hired as Under Armour’s photographer-in-residence, not to mention over 100k followers on Instagram. His book, A Beautiful Ghetto, documenting his Baltimore, came out this summer on Haymarket Books to critical acclaim.

“Coming from Baltimore you didn’t have people like me. All I knew was a bunch of drug dealers, so being a photographer, being from Baltimore, being self taught is rare.”

“It’s always good to elevate and go beyond. Coming from Baltimore you get counted out as soon as you come out the womb … I think I’ve got a lot to offer to the rest of the world, a different perspective, showing Baltimore in a new light, someone still living in their community, still very accessible.”

Allen runs workshops for young people and collects cameras to distribute around the city. As well as working with youth generally, he’s currently working on a long-term project with young people with autism and learning difficulties.

“I want to create a whole chain of photographers, everything that’s coming through me I want to filter it, want to spread it to the masses in my community, open up doors to different places.”

As part of Red Bull Amaphiko Baltimore he’s been running a two day workshop with best selling author and fellow Baltimorean, D Watkins. The work will be exhibited at the Amaphiko Festival happening in the city on Sunday.

“My Devin Allen Pro tip? Always create for yourself. The biggest thing is how can you connect with your viewer. I want to make people to feel they can connect with me through my art. I want people to know it’s my photo because my personality, my heart is in every shot. My biggest thing is shoot with your heart not your eyes.”

Images Courtesy: Devin Allen/Haymarket Books

World Photography Day

Related project
Baltimore's Gifted Art & E-commerce
Baltimore's Gifted Art & E-commerce

We showcase and sell visual art by black youth artist in Baltimore City

Log in to follow