Street Photography can be more than clever. More than witty and whimsical. More than the perfectly-timed candid. More than layers. More than light versus shadow. More than shock-and-awe flash. More than the beautifully composed street portrait. Yes, all of these parts of the big, beautiful mess that is street photography are equally deserving of a home within the genre and it is the eye-candy that our visual palates crave and styles we desire to capture. However, street photography can be important, and it can be powerful. This can be found where street and documentary photography collide, and the results can be ground-shaking. Devin Allen’s A Beautiful Ghetto is a document of such a cultural/social/political earthquake whose epicenter was Baltimore, Maryland, a far-reaching event whose tremors can still be felt to this day.
In April 2015, the world’s attention was turned to Baltimore. Television and the internet were feeding eyes across the globe with images of a city that was literally on fire with unrest. On the 12th day of the month, Freddie Gray, a 25-year-old African-American man was arrested by the city’s police department for carrying what the police said was a switchblade knife. On the police van ride following the arrest, in which the officers failed to properly secure him, Gray suffered injuries to his neck and spinal cord and fell into a coma. On April 19th, Freddie Gray died as a result of those injuries.