William Albert Allard – Five Decades: A Retrospective

Many photographers dream about their images appearing on the pages of National Geographic. Each issue is full of photographs that inspire readers. How could you not want to produce images with that power? William Albert Allard has been one of the influential photographers whose work has wowed people since 1964. For five decades he has photographed everything from Amish communities to Sicily for National Geographic. Even if you aren’t familiar with his name, my guess is that you’ve seen his images.

Last October National Geographic published William Albert Allard’s book, Five Decades: A Retrospective. The book provides unique insight into Allard’s life, photography, and process. This book is a combination of images and narrative. His own perspective on his life and work is incredibly honest. “Many of the pictures in this book were found along a road, in a bar, down a street,” he says. “Often I wasn’t looking for anything in particular…just looking.”

William Albert Allard’s photographs were part of a shift in the images that National Geographic published. He and his colleagues in the ’60s and ’70s took more intimate photographs of their subjects. The people he photographed were interacting with the camera, the photographer and in turn the audience. Instead of merely documenting  a scene he had a knack for illustrating emotion and story.

His ability to connect with his subjects is only part of the strength of his images. He also has an uncanny sense of color which makes his images visually stimulating on a whole other level. Allard has always been drawn to color. While many of his peers were working with black and white film, Allard was mastering color. As he states, he may be one of the only photographers of his generation whose entire collection is completely made up of color images.

Wonder what it would be like to learn from William Albert Allard? Well, we may be able to help you with that. He is co-instructing our workshop, Western Traditions: Powwow and Rodeo, with Tony Rizzuto from June 29 – July 5.

See what William Albert Allard has to say about his photography in this video.