The Young 'Amateur' Photojournalist Whose Work Has Been Heard Around The World

The Young 'Amateur' Photojournalist Whose Work Has Been Heard Around The World

As I type this, Baltimore, Maryland is on lock down. After the suspicious death of Freddie Gray in police custody, and the ensuing civil unrest and rioting, photojournalists have been flocking to the scene. But it is the work of a young local, a so-called 'amateur', whose work has garnered international attention. If there is one thing that is a clear positive about the situation of Baltimore right now, it is that the democratization of photography has given rise to the likes of photographers like Devin Allen.


UPDATE 04/30/15

Congratualtions to Devin Allen, the photographer in this article, who just landed the cover of TIME magazine



Devin Allen’s world must be spinning. Firstly, as a result of the extremely serious, desperate, and negative situation going on right now in his home town of Baltimore, Maryland, but also because his work and coverage of unfolding events has helped tell his story around the globe, and possibly helped position him for an entirely new career path that otherwise may have been shut off.


Devin, who lives approximately 5 minutes from the epicenter of the protests, knew he was going to cover the activity, shooting with his camera and then uploading to Instagram instantly via wifi, while continuing to shoot and cover the events.

“But I never thought it would get this big. My city kind of has a bad rap, but I thought if we can come together peacefully, it [would] be epic for this city, and it was my goal to capture that.”

Although the protests started peacefully, things soon descended into violence as frustration, anger and volatility took hold. Devin was not surprised, but his intentions of why he was there were clear from the outset:

“I went in thinking I would show the good, the bad and the ugly. Of course, since I’m a black man, I understand the frustration, but at the same time, I’m a photographer. I’m not going to lie to you. I’m going to tell you exactly what happened. That was the goal.”


Things really took an interesting turn for him when Rihanna shared one of his images of a black police officer in riot gear, to her 17+ million followers on Instagram. Devin has been left reeling from the attention.

“I’m still in awe of it all”


Image Rihanna shared, garnering a staggering 216,000 likes on Instagram


The most widely shared image was one of a protestor being composed so it looks like he is a solitary figure being charged by dozens of police. Allen mentioned how he captured the moment:

“When I shot that, I thought it was a good picture, so I uploaded [from my camera] to my phone,” he says. “By the time I’d done that, the police was all around me. I was in the middle of it.”



With everything that’s going on in Baltimore, from the intitial death of Freddie Gray, to the protests, civil unrest and resulting (often polarizing) media coverage, it is refreshing to see what someone who has grown up there is seeing and how that photographer is reporting his particular vision.

It also demonstrates the exponential power of social media and how it’s helped put Devin on the map.

Whether this turns out to a fleeting moment of recognition, or the start of a beautiful lifel ong career, it is a definite silver lining and sliver of positivity in amongst a situation that is currently filled with despair and negativity, and that alone is worthy of celebration. 

[Via: TIME]

All images courtesy of / thanks to: Devin Allen

David Geffin's picture

David is a full time photographer, videographer and video editor based in New York City. Fashion, portraiture and street photography are his areas of focus. He enjoys stills and motion work in equal measure, with a firm belief that a strong photographic eye will continue to help inform and drive the world of motion work.

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How is he giving professionals a run for their money? Are these being uploaded to a wire service as it unfolds?

I think he was speaking from the quality of work and the story each image tells. Especially coming from someone who is not a professional (aspiring Im sure). Not to mention this is during a day and age where Newspapers are firing their staff photographers and the quality of work has suffered as a result. This is quality work and should be given the credit that its due.

I'm not knocking the quality of the photos at all, just hope he received proper compensation from TIME. But then again it looked as if the story was more about him Instagram'ing his photos rather than an article using/licensing his photos.

I would say the cover of TIME magazine is both a qualifier for proper recognition and giving professionals a run for their money.

I couldnt agree with Rico more. I think the work is great BUT is he being compensated for his work? Is this another photographer sharing as much free work as he can to get noticed? Will TIME hire him to shoot a campaign in the future? Or will they go back to instagram for more and more of their shots?

Love the story and so glad this story is being covered from "within". Hope to see more from Devin and hopefully he stays safe, along with everyone else.

Also, as a reader and a searcher for truth, the title is misleading. Seriously, I have a lot of love for F-Stoppers but some of your titles could use a little more editing. Saying that, thanks for showing this story as well, as I'm following the story closer now. :)

Unfortunately that's the turn F-Stoppers has taken. From a site for 'creative professionals' to a site where anything that will get them views (that doesn't really cater to the creative professional) is posted.

And damnit STOP using capital letters for every single word in the title. It looks ridiculous and is just plain grammatically wrong.

Tijmen, that's the style guide we use, so take your view up with our Editor, i'm sure he'll listen to your view.

As for the title - i changed it to take your view into account, something i am loathe to ever do but we do listen to our readers and adjust if we think there is a good point being made. On a related note, I probably could have kept the original title as he has more than given professionals a run for their money seeing as he just got the cover of TIME magazine.

These are really amazing images. He deserves every bit of attention and recognition he is getting from them.

That cover is a very effective use of cropping. TIME isn't above a little creativity to sell more copies.