Khalik Allah, a 29-year-old filmmaker and photographer who documents the streets of Harlem at night, has been photographing the corner of 125th and Lexington since 2012; armed with little more than a manual camera and a few rolls of film.
Street photography can often be a daunting or awkward experience – especially when you’re trying to photograph people who might be skeptical of what you are doing and why. However, for this street artist, photography is an immersive experience where he has built hundreds of relationships with members of the community.
One of the methods Allah uses to gain access to the lives of so many people is to show them a book of his past photographs, a technique learned from one of his influencers, photographer Bruce Davidson.
“Carrying a book of 4×6 prints for people to see has given me entry [in the lives] of some of the most hardcore people in the world. They can relate to that,” Allah says. “That helped me build a tighter bond with the community.”
Once given permission, the Harlem-based photographer will often tell his subjects to picture something meaningful while posing for a portrait. “I’ll tell a person that I stop in the street to think about something that they went through in their life that was difficult and project that through their eyes,” says Allah, who describes himself as a spiritual photographer tasked with helping people heal through photography.
“I tell people that my camera is a healing mechanism,” Allah says. “Let me photograph it and take it away from you.”
Khalik Allah is street photographer based in Harlem, N.Y.