|Some of the books by William Albert Allard that I own.|
If you need some inspiration and want to learn from one of the all time best photojournalists, then you need to discover William Albert Allard.
Be sure and visit his website http://www.williamalbertallard.com/
Very few photojournalists have the ability to gain the access as Allard has done throughout his career. He started in 1964 by talking his way into the Amish community and capturing some of the most intimate photos ever taken of a culture that shuns photography.
I first discovered his work when I would open my families subscription to National Geographic Magazine. His imagery captured my attention and later I would study his work so much that I slowly discovered how his style worked.
First of all the best thing about the books and especially his latest book William Albert Allard: Five Decades is his honesty. When I first met him he was more distant than when I encountered him later in his career. After you read the books you start to understand that he made some mistakes that he regretted, but learned from.
Allard has published 6 books. Here is a link to them for you.
What is special about Allard is he is probably the only photographer I know that his entire career was spent working with color and being published in color.
What amazed me through all the years was how Allard would shave an exposure by small amounts to change the colors and therefore affect the mood of the photograph. By just underexposing or overexposing an image you can change the mood. I learned this from all those years of being so absorbed by his work.
Allard really makes you feel like you are peeking in on some really intimate moments. So intimate are these moments that you start to wonder how did he gain the trust of the people to let him even in the room.
I have heard William Allard speak numerous times and have watched every piece of video with him in it that I can get my hands on. I can tell you he could tell you every secret of his and still no one could do what Allard does.
I think the main reason his photos are so powerful is his access. How he gets that access is all about something so innate that I doubt even he can articulate. He takes for granted how he doesn’t work his way into someone’s life as much as Allard is invited into their lives.
After you meet him there is something that makes you want to know more about him.
If a subject has a delicate surface to it, you do not want to go charging in there. You need to establish some kind of presence and understanding. I will say, ‘Try to forget I’m here. I won’t ask you to pose, I won’t ask you to do anything.’ It’s important that I just be allowed to be around, to be present. Photographing people requires a willingness to be rejected. So, I think the best approach is to be honest and direct. Very often, I tell them, “You don’t know me. There’s no reason why you should trust me…the only thing I can promise is that I’ll try to do the most honest work I can. Ultimately, it comes down to somehow being able to instill confidence. I don’t think you can bullshit your way into that, because a lot of these people can see through walls. If you want to photograph people, you’d better know something about them. [Allard often credits “Serendipity” for the success of his pictures.] I like to explore, to be sensitive to the rhythms of the moment. Exploration means seeking out what I think is there, and yet often finding something finer, something closer to the center, that no amount of research could have led me to. I tend to react more than direct. You have to be receptive [to your subject]. You have to care. You can’t do good work if you don’t care. That’s not necessarily a strength, but it gives you strength. – William Albert Allard, Photographic Essay (American Photographer Master Series) by William Albert Allard
Allard has made a living studying people and capturing them with his camera. Another way Allard uses these skills is in community theater as an actor. Allard is able to not just observe but take these observations and become a character.
If you don’t own William Allard’s books and you are wanting to photograph people you are missing the best possible photojournalist of our times.