Dubbed by TIME magazine as Harlem’s Official Street photographer, Khalik Allah is a New York-based photographer + filmmaker who captures the raw, unfiltered lives of the underrepresented, often forgotten communities in society. His recent documentary film, Field Niggas, which premiered at Independent Filmmaker Project in Brooklyn on October 16, is a bold, intimate reflection of the years he spent in Harlem with the people of 125th Street and Lexington Avenue. A lively, diverse community permeated by homelessness, drugs + alcohol. Allah’s film is in many ways a rebellion against societal norms and commonalities; set outdoors and at night, the film is an accurate representation of the neighborhood and the multifaceted people that comprise it.
Born to a Jamaican mother and Iranian father, Allah fell in love with photography after taking a few snaps of his friend – GZA from the Wu-Tang clan – using a camera borrowed from his father. Since then he has embarked on a journey that has taken him through the streets of Harlem and overseas to the sandy shores of Jamaica. In an interview with Frank 151, after the release of his film – Khamaica – Allah explained the influence that Jamaica has had on his growth. “Jamaica, especially the countryside, has been instrumental in furthering my spiritual development.” In that film, he captured the dynamic of life in the city versus life in the country. The juxtaposition of these lifestyle differences is a style that has become evident in Allah’s work. While Field Niggas reflects the reality of harsh social issues, it also is filled with humor, humanity, and endless compassion.
Listen to him discuss Field Niggas above, and watch Khamaica below.