Photographer in Focus: Khalik Allah


Khalik Allah is a New York based photographer who specialises in portraits taken in Harlem at night. Whilst he has done plenty of work outside of this brief definition of his style (he has made multiple films and he has photographed his homeland Jamaica frequently, etc.), Allah has become mainly recognised for his portraits taken in New York City as they highlight homeless people, hustlers and drug addicts in the dark of night.

Primarily lighting his work using lights on the streets, coming from nearby shops or passing police cars, Allah’s work ascends typical street photography by instead allowing his subjects to pose and acknowledge the fact that they are in front of a camera, leading to shots like the one seen below:

Khalik Allah | Light Work

Khalik Allah

His body of work is one that is unique, confrontational and visually stunning all at once. Allah’s pictures, almost always taken on film rather than digital (for the way that film manipulates light sources), are as striking as modern photography can get.

And now is a moment of change in his work as he embraces some more mainstream opportunities, such as his chance to photograph and film famous New York rapper Nas in 2021 or his work with Solange, and as he embraces more colour film, daylight shooting and continues to shoot with a wide range of cameras and lenses to achieve a variation of distinct looks. 

It is difficult to choose a favourite from Allah’s portfolio. His pictures work best in collaboration with each other, as they quickly create the sense of the liveliness of New York’s streets at night, but his work with Frenchie, a homeless addict Allah personally befriended and has frequently worked with, is magnificent, as is his photography book Souls Against the Concrete, which brings together a selection of his finest shots taken in Harlem.

You can watch Khalik Allah discuss his photography and Souls Against the Concrete here!


About Author

Third year film student.

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