“I didn’t want to just show a one-sided Baltimore,” says Allen. “I wanted to show more than just the uprisings.” To do so, he set out to portray the tone of the city; in his words, “what I see, what Freddie Gray saw, growing up in Baltimore. That’s how it started.”
For every photograph of a fist raised in protest or cop car’s shattered windshield, Allen shows poetic daily subtleties like a young boy leaning back on an urban swing set; a man getting his hair trimmed; or a woman with plastic shopping bags, walking alone beside a boarded-up building, looking over her shoulder.
Some photographs, though, are decidedly grim. Among them are shots of a discarded syringe that lays on the sidewalk; a young boy with a T-shirt that reads “we must stop killing each other;” and a teenager paying respects to a street-side memorial with a teddy-bear and fresh flowers, surrounded by litter.
After the death of Gray, Allen says, he was looking for words to describe his community. “It’s so hard. You love it some days, you hate it some days, it’s all about where you are,” he says, noting that the words “beautiful” and “ghetto” are not often associated with one another.