In 2015, Devin Allen garnered national attention when his pivotal photograph of the Baltimore uprising was featured on Time magazine’s May cover. On Wednesday via Haymarket, the photographer released his debut book, A Beautiful Ghetto, featuring 144 pages filled with more portraits of the beautiful faces of West Baltimore.
“This book is a visual story of the uprising,” Allen tells Redbull. “It’s also the story of Baltimore, Freddie Gray, and so many countless others who grow up, work, and raise their families in places like Baltimore. This book is to challenge the stigma, to show the beautiful side of the ghetto, and hopefully to inspire others to love, respect, and invest in our communities.”
A Beautiful Ghetto features five essays, including a forward written by African American Studies professor and scholar Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor, and an ode to Freddie Gray penned by Baltimore author Wes Moore. Gray’s death is also briefly recounted in a timeline within the book.
Since having his work appear in Time, the 27-year-old photographer—who was also featured on OWN’s SuperSoul Sunday in 2016—has shifted his focus to “arming the youth of Baltimore with cameras, not guns” with his Through Their Eyes project. The program provides students with cameras and access to photography workshops, aiming to “empower young people to tell their stories.”
This year, Allen was a recipient of the inaugural Gordon Parks Foundation Fellowship, which will support Allen in the continuation of Through Their Eyes.
Allen celebrates the release of A Beautiful Ghetto on Saturday, June 17, at the Reginald F. Lewis Museum in Baltimore.