In 2005, Devin Allen went from being an amateur photographer to a world-wide favorite, thanks to the help of TIME magazine and one photograph.
Growing up in Baltimore, Allen spent his time photographing the city for fun. As he continued, he began to realize the true beauty of everything around him despite the hardships that the people of Baltimore face on a day to day basis. Gun violence was a large factor affecting those around Allen. In a 2016 OWN SuperSoul Sunday interview, Allen states that he lost two of his best friends to gun violence in a single weekend. He also expresses that he is still alive thanks to his love for photography. If it wasn’t for his photoshoots that day, he could’ve found himself in different circumstances since he usually spent most of his time with those friends. He attributes his commitment to photography to his two friends.
Allen’s life was completely changed when he captured the unrest in the city of Baltimore following the death of Freddie Gray. With news teams flooding the area to cover the protest, he wanted to portray the atmosphere in its true, raw form. He wanted to uncover the pain behind the situation that wasn’t going to be talked about on any news program. Through his camera, he saw the good and the bad, watching first hand as a city came together in a time of need.
When Allen’s famous photograph was snapped, he had no intentions of it getting as big as he did. He took in the scene as police came charging, almost being trampled in the process. He continued to photograph the scenes around him, uploading his shot to his social media platforms. The photograph quickly took off as celebrities like Ice Cube and Rihanna shared his work on their social media pages. Soon after came the call from TIME magazine.
Allen’s photography is a representation of the fact that history repeats itself. Looking at pictures from the Civil Rights Movement in comparison with his own, Allen notes a lot a similarities between the two. Through his photography, he hopes to make a difference, noting that social media truly makes an impact now more than ever.
Photo credit: Devin Allen