Friday 31 May 2013

5 Questions in 5 Minutes - Khalik Allah

Khalik Allah can't be described as just a photographer or videographer. Khalik snaps the streets and lurks Lexington Avenue. It's rough, raw and gritty. 

I don't know what else to say so I'll leave it to the man to tell you. I caught Khalik for a 5 Questions in 5 Minutes run-down. He tells of how he goes about shooting, work with Wu-Tang and a Mobb Deep tape that went awol. 

D.C - How do you approach your subjects on the streets?

Khalik - Where I shoot you have to approach your subjects head on. There's nothing obscure about what I do. I walk into congregations of crack-heads, thugs, and drug dealers. I tell them all the same thing: I'm a documentary photographer and that their stories are important to me. As soon as they say no I leave it alone. You don't want to press anybody on Lexington Ave. But I move with a positive spirit and embrace people no matter where they are. It's been a while on the same corner. Everybody knows me. I've helped a lot of people. Even the police say "what's up" when they see me walking.

D.C - Who is the guy featuring in most your latest images, the one in the white beanie with those red eyes?

Khalik - That's Frenchie. I have been photographing him a lot. The story between him and I is deep. He epitomizes the hood. He represents everything this phase of my photography is about. I did a documentary on him called Urban Rashomon. After I made it I went back and found him. Since then I've photographed him only in color. 

D.C - Colour or Black and White images?

Khalik - I shoot low speed black and white film at night. 125 ISO in the dark... because it's something nobody would do. For a while I was only shooting at night. When I went back to shoot the corner I wanted to change the numerator completely, but still shoot the same people in the same place. For this purpose I used color in the morning opposed to black and white at night. 

D.C - Tell us a bit about your videography work too and is it tough separating from your work and the subjects in your work?

Khalik - I started out as a film-maker, and I still am. The two forms are marrying each other in my experience. I've made a few movies; namely, Popa Wu, A 5% Story, and a few other projects with Wu-Tang. My last big video project, besides the Urban Rashomon, was a music video I did with Masta Killa, called "Things Just Ain't The Same."

I don't separate from my subjects. It's something I can't get out of me and wouldn't want to.. The streets are my inspiration. I'm a resurrector so my place is amongst the dead. I wouldn't have them be apart from me. 
D.C - What music did you love as a kid that probably annoyed your parents?

Khalik - All I remember is my dad saying "What is this shit?!" as he threw my Mobb Deep, Hell on Earth, tape out the window.

Check out all of Khaliks' work here. Praise is due. 


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