Khalik Allah is a New York–based photographer and filmmaker whose work has been described as “street opera,” simultaneously penetrative, hauntingly beautiful, and visceral. His photography has been acclaimed by the New York Times, TIME Light Box, the New Yorker, the Guardian, the Village Voice, the BBC, and the Boston Globe. Since 2012, Allah has been photographing people who frequent the corner of 125th Street and Lexington Avenue in Harlem. Shooting film at night with only the light pouring from storefront windows, street lights, cars, and flashing ambulances, he captures raw and intimate portraits of “souls against the concrete.”
This volume presents a gallery of 105 portraits created with a Nikon F2 35mm camera and a photography predicated on reality. Inviting viewers to look deeply into the faces of people living amid poverty, drug addiction, and police brutality, but also leading everyday lives, Allah seeks to dispel fears, capture human dignity, and bring clarity to a world that outsiders rarely visit. This nuanced portrayal of nocturnal urban life offers a powerful and rare glimpse into the enduring spirit of a slowly gentrifying Harlem street corner and the great legacies of black history that live there.
It is easy to walk through a city not making eye contact, but for photographer Khalik Allah this contact is essential. He sees each individual he photographs. And his photographs in turn allow us to see them, to acknowledge who we might ignore, to look through Allah’s eye and into theirs, and to recognize them as individuals. This is the power of Allah’s work. . . Here, he gives us a deeper sense of people as people, to share and enlighten, even when the message may not be clean or easy. ~L’Oeil de la Photographie