A few days ago, Devin Allen, a 26-year-old West Baltimore resident, only aspired to be a professional photographer. For the past two years, he had been photographing models and had tried his hand at street photography, drawing his inspiration from photographers such as Gordon Parks and artists like Andy Warhol.
But, when protests took over his city in the aftermath of Freddie Gray’s death, the young amateur photographer took to Instagram and found himself propelled on the global stage.
His photographs of the demonstrations — peaceful at first, then more violent — grabbed the headlines: they were featured on the BBC and CNN, and shared by thousands of Twitter and Instagram users, including Rihanna.
Now, one of his most iconic images, shot at the heart of the protests on April 25, is featured on this week’s cover of TIME.
The photograph shows a man running away from a pack of charging policemen. “When I shot that, I thought it was a good picture, so I uploaded [from my camera] to my phone,” he told TIME LightBox earlier this week. “By the time I’d done that, the police was all around me. I was in the middle of it.”
The shot perfectly captures the intensity and chaotic nature of the protests, making it the natural choice for TIME’s cover.
“For me, who’s from Baltimore city, to be on the cover of TIME Magazine, I don’t even know what to say. I’m speechless,” says Allen. “It’s amazing. It’s life changing for me. It’s inspiring me to go further. It gives me hope and it gives a lot of people around me hope. After my daughter, who’s my pride and joy, this is the best thing that’s happened to me.”
Read our full interview with Devin Allen: Meet the Amateur Photographer Covering Baltimore’s Protests
Paul Moakley, TIME’s deputy director of photography and visual enterprise, edited this photo essay. Additional editing by Marisa Schwartz-Taylor.