5Qs With: Devin Allen
Baltimore’s Peter Parker.
That’s the latest nickname friends have given West Baltimore native Devin Allen. His usual routine includes an 8-hour overnight shift working with those affected by autism and intellectual disabilities, only to get home and switch gears to some photo editing and emails. Then he’s back out again, capturing memorable moments with his camera, by noon, posting them on Instagram for all the world to see.
Not too many people knew the face of the 26-year-old, until one of his photographs taken during Baltimore’s recent protests made the cover of TIME magazine. And to this day, if you’re lucky, you may spot the local around your neck of the woods.
But as superhuman as that sounds, we assure you, the Devin Allen we met up with at his spot of choice, City of Gods, is as human as the rest of us.
“My first photo shoot was in here, City of Gods,” Allen recollected. “That’s when I started liking taking pictures. It was fun so I just ran with it.”
Allen bought his first camera at the end of 2012, a device that’s kept him alive surpassing many of his friends he’s lost to the streets.
“Photography means so much to me, because if it wasn’t for photography, I would have been with those guys. I wouldn’t even be here.”
But, with the newfound fame, Allen is adamant on staying grounded, using his recognition to grow as an artist and inspire others along the way, including his 5-year-old daughter Amari. “I really want to touch as many kids as I can,” he said.
“My daughter is my true inspiration. She’s going to be there and see me grow as an artist. I don’t really plan on making beaucoup dollars off of this, but I will leave as much artwork and things for her so she can carry on my legacy how she sees fit.”
Due to the recent events in Baltimore, the city’s CreativeMornings chapter decided to alternate themes, pushing up June’s theme of ‘Revolution’ to this month, and inviting Allen as guest speaker. This Friday, the photographer will be under the spotlight once again, at Center Stage. He plans on just being himself from ‘fro to toe.
“It’s more important to stay my natural self,” he said. “So with my hair, it symbolizes who I am.”
Even though he’s still growing it out, Allen’s friends make jokes about his hair, but he takes it all in stride. “When they see the bush, they crack jokes saying I look like Don King, haha.”
That’s a good sign in staying true to the Devin Allen they know him to be.
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