Baltimore photographer’s love of the city inspires award-winning images – CBS Baltimore
BALTIMORE (WJZ) — When you walk around Baltimore with Devin Allen, you can’t help but see things differently.
Under Allen’s discerning eye, often overlooked details come to life. Allen’s style of photography puts you at ease, even when you are the subject of his striking images.
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Allen, an award-winning photographer who gained national attention for his portrayal of Baltimore, recently spoke with WJZ about his work.
“The streets are my studio, it’s where I create,” Allen said. “I love it, because if you miss it, you miss it. You’re always chasing a fleeting moment.
Allen’s images graced the cover of Weather magazine not once but twice. Her portrayal of the unrest in Baltimore in 2015 following the death in custody of Freddie Gray is featured in her book, “A Beautiful Ghetto.”
In October, Allen will publish a second book, this one titled “No Justice, No Peace: From the Civil Rights Movement to Black Lives Matter,” which features photographs, essays, and poetry.
Allen was even featured in “Strong Black Lens,” a Netflix digital series.
“Photography really saved my life,” he said. “It gave me purpose. It gave me power. It gave me a voice.”
Allen said photography took him out of his comfort zone and broadened his horizons beyond Baltimore.
“It allowed me to explore Baltimore and really understand Baltimore on a whole new level, but it also took me around the world,” Allen said. “Sometimes I meet people who don’t even understand what I’m saying because of my Baltimore accent. But with photography, they know what I’m trying to say. I love how it connects people. It can be people together, but it can also solve serious problems.
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Allen captures critical moments in history.
“Freddie Gray passed away and I was able to document those moments, be on the front lines and on the cover of Time magazine,” he said. “This blanket has strengthened my community. It put my community on a platform. But it also gave me a voice to give back to my own community. Whether it’s working with young people or visiting schools, I open doors that weren’t open to us before.
This commitment is evident in the way Allen rehabilitates his grandmother’s home in West Baltimore, which has been in the family for more than four decades. Lovingly, as he flipped through a pile of his photo albums, Allen said his grandmother was the first photographer he had ever known.
“My family is very close,” he said. “My grandmother growing up was like a second mother. I grew up in this house. Everyone in my family did. I had my first fight here. I went to high school over here. He has so many memories.
Even with a career that could take him anywhere in the world, Allen remains in Baltimore.
“Baltimore is my home,” he said. “I’ve been here all my life. I love this city. Growing up was really hard here. So I found myself in this position of artist and photographer now that I inspire children and the community. So I want to be part of the change in Baltimore.
Allen even imagines his house as an incubation space for young creatives. With each accomplishment, he says, he keeps moving forward, thinking of his daughter and the next generation.
“My success is not just mine, it’s that of my community. Because it is the community that gave birth to me. From all the hardships to all the positives, they made me who I am. So I want to make sure I give that back,” Allen said.
“I’ve been counted out so many times. I was shot at, I had bullets going past my head. I saw people die, I was arrested. Treat depression, anxiety, PTSD. But even in my darkest moments, I keep pushing. Just know that you are not alone. I know what it feels like when you hit rock bottom. But as long as you’re here and as long as you’re breathing, you always have a chance to change your life and find a new path.
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