TIME Interview

Meet Harlem’s ‘Official’ Street Photographer

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.

Adam Glanzman is a contributor to TIME LightBox. Follow him on Twitter @glanzpiece


TIME North Korea

How North Korea’s Government Wants You To See Kim Jong Un

The image of the Dear Leader is tightly controlled by North Korean government's Korean Central News Agency, which has fashioned a sunny disposition for the country's mysterious leader. Kim has dropped out of view in recent weeks as many speculate about his health.

TIME fun

Feel Good Friday: 14 Fun Photos to Start Your Weekend

From presidential selfies to human towers, here's a handful of photos to get your weekend started right


Fixes for 5 Common Smartphone Photo Mistakes

Most of the time, today’s smartphones do a great job of capturing everyday moments in their default full automatic modes. However, there are times when adjusting your phone’s camera settings can make a huge difference. Check out these simple fixes to five of the most common photo mistakes and start taking better pictures.

1. Out of focus photos

SamsungFace detection option on the Galaxy S5

When you don’t want the subject of your photo to be in the center of your image, your phone’s camera will often focus on the wrong spot. The fastest, easiest solution is to tap your subject on the screen to focus — an option that’s available on the iPhone and most Android phones. You can also press and hold on a spot to lock in focus and exposure and then move the phone to compose your shot. You can turn on face detection as well, and your phone will find and focus on the people in the scene.

2. Blurry fast-action/sports shots

When your subject is moving, like an athlete running down the field, movement can cause the image to blur. If you have an Android phone, like the HTC One M8 or the Samsung Galaxy S5, or Windows Phone, like the Nokia Lumia 1520, you can combat this by raising the ISO setting. With a higher ISO, the shutter speed can be faster, making it easier to freeze the action.

3. Dark faces in backlit and bright outdoor shots

In Auto mode, your camera tries to ensure that everything in your photo will be reasonably well lit. But when the person in the shot is back-lit or you’re shooting at a sunny beach or in a snowy setting, the background is much brighter than the people in your photo, so they can come out far too dark. For this problem, there are a few things you can do to make your photo turn out right.

Try setting your flash on so that it fires with each shot. In an outdoor scene, the flash can help light up faces even when the sun is shining. This is called a “fill flash.”

Another way to bring out details in all parts of a photo is to turn on HDR (high dynamic range). This mode takes overexposed and underexposed images and merges them together to bring out details in the light and dark areas of the photo. Most smartphones will have an HDR mode.

If neither of those options work, you can try manually adjusting the exposure to brighten or darken the overall photo. You’ll find this option on some smartphones, like the iPhone, HTC One M8, Samsung Galaxy S5 and Nokia Lumia 920, which let you manually adjust exposure.

4. Dark, grainy low light shots

Getting a good shot in low light usually requires lengthening the exposure, which leads to blurriness from you or your subject moving. Taking shots too quickly results in under-exposed images. There are a few things you can try, though.

Like with fast action shots, you can try bumping up the ISO setting, an option on some Android and Windows phones. The higher the ISO, the faster the camera sees the scene with the available light. So you can take photos faster, which reduces the blur caused by camera shake.

Low light is another shooting scenario where HDR mode can help. In this mode, the camera takes two or three shots at different exposures and merges them together to get detail in the brightest and darkest areas of the shot. Because the camera is taking a few shots, it’s important that nothing changes between each shot or the resulting image will be blurry. So reserve HDR mode for landscapes and group shots.

You’ll also want to turn on optical image stabilization, which is available on the iPhone 6 Plus and LG G3.

5. Cluttered backgrounds

When you’re focused on the subject of your photos, sometimes you don’t notice what’s going on in the background. Then, when you look at the actual picture, we see a ton of distracting detail that ruins the overall effect of the image.

A few smartphones let you blur the background or foreground of an image — or even select your focus after you’ve taken your shot.

Phones like the Nokia Lumia 1020 accomplish this manually by letting you select the aperture. Lower numbers equal a shallower depth of field – you can turn distracting backgrounds into fuzzy abstract patterns that make your subject in the foreground the focus of attention. The Lumia 920, 1020 and 1520 also have Nokia Refocus (see the demo below), which lets you refocus your shot after taking it, blurring the other areas of the photo.

The Google Camera app (preloaded on some phones), which runs on Android 4.4 KitKat phones, also lets you refocus your shot after you take it with a feature called Lens Blur, as does the Magic Focus feature on the LG G3. Samsung has a similar feature called “Selective Focus,” which lets you set what you want to be in focus and make the rest of your shot blurred before you take the shot.

This article was written by Suzanne Kantra and originally appeared on Techlicious.

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TIME Out There

How the Past Shapes Modern Photography

From tintypes to Vermeer, here's how the past shapes and influences modern photography by Deborah Willis.

TIME LightBox’s curators series invites top photography curators from around the world to present and discuss photography of their choosing in an effort to learn more about their curatorial preferences and the path from individual images to full-fledged exhibitions. This month, TIME invited Deborah Willis, Chair of the Department of Photography & Imaging at New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts to discuss how the past both shapes and influences modern photography.

Memory, it could be said, is central to the practice of making images. And images that create tension between conceptualizing and producing work about the past are especially exciting for me. As a curator, one of the most powerful experiences I have had has been finding photographers who embrace the idea of memory in their explorations of the complexities of everyday life. Indeed, to me, many of the best contemporary photographers use art history and social history to explore the political, social, and historical framed by moral responsibility.

I’d like to look how today’s photographers take their inspiration from varied sources and rework themes by using collective memory, new media, and old technologies that appear unrelated but are filtered through the modern sensibility of these photographers’ lens.

Ed Drew’s tintype series Afghanistan, Combat Zone Tintype was made between April and June 2013 in the Helmand River Province, Afghanistan, between combat missions during his deployment with his helicopter Combat Rescue Unit. Drew pays homage to both American Civil War photographers and soldiers who posed proudly in studios and on battlegrounds wearing their uniforms and carrying their gear and weapons. This historical, technological return and the memory of manhood and patriotism during war are powerful.

Margaret Stratton’s A Spy in the House that Castro Built presents an unraveling puzzle of conflicting identities in today’s Cuba including all-inclusive luxury resorts and the romantic ruins of the city of Havana. From pin ups in a tobacco warehouse storage room to a colorfully painted house at night with a dog standing guard on a pointed roof, these images reflect upon Cuba’s complex economic reality through the idealization of labor and leisure life.

Contemporary mural sized portraits pasted on buildings are the powerful presence of Sheila Pree Bright’s public billboard portrait project 1960 Who. The series depicts former civil rights activists of the Atlanta Student Movement and Freedom Riders. The billboards reconnect the places transformed by these faces of the movement within the communities they changed.

Inspired by Dutch artist Johannes Vermeer’s celebrated 1665 painting Girl with the Pearl Earring, Ethiopian photographer Awol Erizku pays homage to the classic beauty by repositioning a contemporary black model as Girl with the Bamboo Earring (2011). Erizku’s stunning Portrait of a Muslim Boy (2014), set off against an alluring, red painted brick wall, resonates primarily because of the intensity of his subject’s self conscious yet self assured gaze.

Delphine Fawundu’s Deconstructing SHE examines the destructive impact of media on ideas of beauty and self. Fawundu’s self portraits depict transformed identities such as blue eyes and silky hair on the black female body.

Beauty as defined within a close community is the focus of Alison Malone and Gerard Gaskin’s projects. Malone grew up in a family with strong Masonic roots. In The Daughters of Job, she documents the rituals and dress in a secret society of girls, the daughters and granddaughters of Freemasons, ranging in age from 10 to 20 years old. “The images are concerned with the psychology of identity formation through traditional ritual and role-playing within a patriarchal organization,” Malone writes. “They observe the girls in the society and the spaces where these rites occur.”

Gerard Gaskin’s work looks at the notion of transformation as he turns his lens on what it means to be desired—and at the same time what it feels like to be alienated. His work, an ongoing investigation of gender/race/class and stereotyping in the ballroom or “house” culture of LGBTQ drag balls, is grounded in fashion and beauty. Gaskin’s “close-up” of the life provides a fascinating chronology of the ‘ball life’ from make up to dress up. These documentary-style images are filled with hope, voyeurism, and struggle as they explore ideas of longing, beauty and desire.

In the late eighteenth century, silhouette portraits were a popular method of portraiture. Susan kae Grant’s reminiscent Shadow Portraits, which trace back stylistically to Grant’s fascination with shadows in her ongoing body of work Night Journey, enable the viewer to experience the romanticism found in these early works while addressing dreams, memory, and the unconscious.

This brief introduction to new portraits recently produced presents photography as an art form and as a vehicle of popular culture. By arranging these photographers in two thematic groupings, I hope to highlight the significance of the photographic image as performative.

Deborah Willis, Ph.D. is the Chair of the Department of Photography & Imaging at New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts

Myles Little is an associate photo editor at TIME.

TIME the backstory

The Photo That Made Me: Martin Schoeller, New York 1998

Martin Schoeller's portrait of Vanessa Redgrave, shot in 1988, established the photographer's iconic style and jump-started his career

In the latest installment in our series, “The Photo That Made Me,” in which a photographer discusses the one picture that jump-started his or her career, or simply sparked a lifelong interest in photography, TIME LightBox talks with photographer Martin Schoeller.

Schoeller is world famous for his close-up portraiture, and here he writes about his 1998 photograph of Vanessa Redgrave – one of the earliest iterations of his now signature style.

This photo really changed things for me.

Here’s a bit of background: In 1996 I worked for Annie Leibovitz, and after that I went out on my own. I’d make portraits of my friends as well as people on street corners – often on the Lower East Side. I actually set up studio on the street and build a portfolio of stark straight up portraits. But they didn’t allow for much expression, they just seemed a little cold looking. It wasn’t very profitable, and I went broke a few times in 1997 and 1998.

A little later, I came across the Kino Fluorescent lighting system (a sort of fluorescent tube lighting) and started to incorporate it into my work. This started to change things: these lights really bring out a subject’s eyes. And because I had adopted the style of a super close up portrait, my work started to stick out. Back then the mainstream thing to do was a more distanced shot with a perfect background and styling – and it was also a time when Photoshop was really becoming a big part of things.

People noticed my work. Pretty quickly, places like Worth magazine and Fortune magazine started hiring me. It seemed I could do these portraits anywhere. They were actually pretty unusual for their time. Then Time Out New York hired me. They asked me to photograph Vanessa Redgrave, but I only had ten minutes. I made a super tight portrait.

It changed everything: I went from only being assigned five jobs in 1998 – three of which were weddings – to all of sudden doing 127 jobs 1999.

I think this picture got editors’ attention. It was a mix of the right magazine (everybody would check out that publication), the right subject and the right picture, with its unusual close-up style. It was just perfect timing, too. This photo helped broaden the spectrum of my photography and started my career as I know it today.

Martin Schoeller is a New York-based staff photographer for the New Yorker.

As told to LightBox reporter/producer Richard Conway

TIME Photos

Feel Good Friday: 14 Fun Photos to Start Your Weekend

From polar bear costumes to polar bear swims, here's a handful of photos to get your weekend started right

TIME remembrance

See What Manhattan Looked Like Before the World Trade Center

Photos from the LIFE collection depict Lower Manhattan in the decades before the Twin Towers became part of the New York City skyline

Just because it’s become a cliché doesn’t make it any less true: the world changed on 9/11. And nowhere was that change more profound or enduring than in New York City.

For some, the scale of the carnage in Lower Manhattan transformed all of New York, overnight, from a place they called home to a ruin they had to leave behind forever.

For countless others, the love we always had for New York only grew stronger after seeing the city so savagely attacked. Our connection to the town, and to other New Yorkers, suddenly had about it a sense of defiance, tempered by a kind of rough, unexpected tenderness: the metropolis that had always felt so huge and indomitable seemed, all of a sudden, painfully vulnerable. In need of protection. Our protection.

Here, we pay tribute to New York — specifically, to the storied landscape of Lower Manhattan, where 400 years ago New York was born — in photographs made in the decades before the Twin Towers anchored the foot of the island. Wall Street, Battery Park, the Brooklyn Bridge, Trinity Church, the vast, shimmering harbor — they’re all here: landmarks that, despite everything, retain their place in the collective imagination, captured by some of the finest photographers of the 20th century.

See more of LIFE’s collection of New York City photography here, at LIFE.com: Where New York Was Born

TIME Internet

Facebook Sorry for Rejecting Ad Over ‘Gory’ Photo of Infant

Hudson's Heart / Facebook Facebook apologized for rejecting an ad featuring this photo of 2-month-old Hudson Azera Bond

But family says social media giant's apology was "half hearted"

Hudson Azera Bond is only two months old, but the infant is already fighting for his life. Diagnosed with a heart condition known as cardiomyopathy when he was just seven days old, Hudson needs a vital heart transplant, which his family is attempting to raise money for through a Facebook page called Hudson’s Heart. Hudson’s father, Kevin Bond, even attempted to boost traffic to the page — and the cause — by purchasing a $20 paid ad from the social networking site.

But Facebook initially rejected the ad, issuing a form response last weekend that deemed the accompanying photo of Hudson — who is hooked up to multiple machines and tubes — as “scary, gory, or sensational and evokes a negative response.” Unsurprisingly, the family was incredibly “hurt” by the company’s description of their son.

Facebook, which isn’t new to photo controversies, has since reversed the decision and a representative even called the Bond family to personally apologize. When questioned about the original decision, Facebook told Yahoo Health in a statement: “This was a mistake on our part, and the ad has been re-approved. We apologize for any inconvenience this caused the family.”

In a post on the Hudson’s Heart Facebook page, Kevin Bond, wrote on Wednesday:

I read Facebook’s response on media outlets last night. They apologized for the inconvenience this caused my family. Inconvenience was never an issue. Having my beautiful Son compared to dismembered bodies, vampires, zombies, etcetera hurt me, and my family.
The ad in question was time sensitive. Reversing their decision days later fixes nothing. Further, the company still hasn’t contacted me directly. Had I not read their half hearted apology on the media I’d have no idea it existed.”

Meanwhile, the Bonds are still trying to raise money for Hudson’s heart transplant, which is likely to be one of many. “When you implant a heart into a kid this age, it’s not going to last,” Kevin told Yahoo. “By the time he’s in his 20s he will probably have had four transplants.”

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