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 Post subject: William Albert Allard - Paris - The Eye of the Flaneur
Unread postPosted: Fri Apr 13, 2018 8:23 pm 
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Location: Los Angeles
In a short review I posted here under the General Photography heading, I shared my impressions of a one-day master class with Bill Allard, hosted at the Leica Store and Gallery in Los Angeles on April 7, 2018 by Leica Akademie, North America. I mentioned that I had purchased a copy of Bill's brand new book, William Albert Allard - Paris - The Eye of the Flaneur, which he inscribed to me. I've spent some time with the book, and thought I would share my thoughts on it.

Based on the critiques of our work Bill dispensed during the master class, as well as his candid answers to the participants' questions and the various presentations he made during the day, it was clear that this is a man who is very serious about his work. By that he expressly means he cares about what goes into the framing and taking of each photograph, and his concern for the image extends through every step of processing and printing to final presentation. His confrontations with photo editors have, at times, earned him the reputation of being "difficult," but he did not hesitate to exhort each of us to approach our own work with care and respect, and to very seriously strive to make each day's pictures better than the last.

Bill trained as a photojournalist at the University of Missouri. He was captivated by the power of words and pictures used together to tell a story, and in his latest book he takes up the pen as well as the camera to take the reader/viewer on a very personal excursion through Paris. Quoting Edmund White (The Flaneur: A Stroll through the Paradoxes of Paris), Allard writes "...I have often been an 'aimless stroller who loses himself in the crowd, who has no destination and goes wherever caprice or curiosity directs his steps.'..." In his many sojourns in Paris, his approach has been as it has been in most of his assignments over a 50-year career: to go to a place, to find a place to hang his hat, and to get into the flow of local life. No itinerary, no bucket list, only a local assistant to ease language problems. Nothing to stand in the way of one of Allard's most precious assets: serendipity. On the sidelines, patiently observing, moving on, looking, seeing, and "working the scene." That last was a point Allard frequently emphasized to the master class participants as he scanned their projected photographs: "Did you work the scene? How long did you spend on it? How many pictures did you take? People, if you get the chance, don't just hit and run, I want you to WORK THAT [THING]!"
This could be a fine gift, a terrific pre- or post- Paris trip souvenir. I cannot see it as other than a terrific guide to visual intelligence in words and pictures, by a photographer's photographer. It is 241 pages, with 119 color images, text by Allard in French, English and German. In cloth binding with dust jacket, published by Edition Lammerhuber (2017). Available through Amazon.
[My apologies to Francophone LVL readers. Flaneur requires an accent circonflex over the a; however, I could not figure out how to type accents in this software.]

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