Last April, Freddie Gray’s death led to city-wide protests in Baltimore, Devin Allen was an aspiring photographer documenting his city on Instagram. Then TIME published one of his photographs on its cover.
“My life has been a roller coaster,” he says. “I’m truly living a dream.”
Before the protests, Allen had been photographing models and had tried his hand at street photography, he told TIME, drawing his inspiration from photographers such as Gordon Parks and artists like Andy Warhol. Now, Allen’s work is being solicited from all around the globe. He was featured in New York Magazine, the Washington Post, the New York Times, Yahoo!, as well as a multitude of local papers. His work has been exhibited in museums in Baltimore and Washington D.C., and at Photoville in New York. “I’ve been traveling a lot,” he adds. “I have been to Asia and spent a week in Austria where I visited a refugee camp.”
Allen has also received support from the clothing brand Under Armor, which commissioned him to photograph basketball player Steph Curry and boxer Saúl Álvarez. “Samsung also took a liking to me and sponsored my youth program,” he says, referring to a program of photography workshops he launched for Baltimore’s kids. “This outreach is going well, but it’s harder than I thought,” he says. “I teach some youth from the Penn North Kids Safe Zone, where we just put up a mural of my photos of kids from the uprising. And I’m also working with a middle school in my old neighborhood, where it feels good to connect with them and inspire them.”
While Allen is now a photographer with a full schedule, he remains committed to the raw documentation of his city that caught the eyes of TIME’s photo editors back in April. “I just want to continue giving back to my community,” he says. “I want to document issues I feel connected to.”