William Albert Allard, Five Decades: A Retrospective

A Journey Across Five Decades of Storytelling in Color and Light

Diving into "William Albert Allard: Five Decades: A Retrospective" feels like rifling through the secret drawers of a master storyteller who’s spent over half a century capturing the soul of the street, the grit of the rodeo, and the candid spark of the human spirit. Allard, with his rebel stance on color photography in a time dominated by black and white purists, offers a visceral journey into the lives of others through his rich, saturated frames that almost bleed emotion onto the page.

On the cover: Benedetta Bucellato, Sicily, 1994


This isn’t just another glossy photography book to sit prettily on a coffee table. It’s a rugged, heartfelt expedition through layers of human conditions and the corners of the world that most of us will never visit. The personal anecdotes Allard shares alongside his images do more than just context—they pull you into moments, whispering the stories behind the faces and landscapes. There’s an intimacy here that’s rare in retrospective works; you're not just observing Allard’s journey, you're walking the dusty, sunlit paths alongside him.

William Albert Allard: Five Decades
Eduardo Ramos with his dead sheep. Puno, Peru, 1981


Chronologically arrayed, the book lets you watch Allard himself evolve, from a young photographer shooting for National Geographic to a seasoned artist who understands that every photo is a dialogue. His style matures, but the empathy in his gaze never falters. What's particularly striking are his portraits, where every wrinkle tells a story, every glance has weight. He makes you feel the presence of his subjects, as if they’re standing right there in front of you, eyes locked, stories unspooling in the silence.

William Albert Allard: Five Decades
Girl by the yellow wall and yellow chair, Oaxaca, 1980, 35mm Kodachrome film


"Allard: Five Decades" isn’t for the faint of heart. It’s for those who want to feel a bit wrecked by a book, changed by the encounter, who want to close the cover and still feel the residue of the stories clinging to them. This book challenges you not just to look, but to see—to see the beauty in the raw, the untamed, the quietly powerful. It’s a call to photographers and storytellers to not just aim for beauty, but to search for the soul. This is Allard’s legacy—not just the images he captured, but the emotional imprint he leaves on the fabric of visual storytelling.

All images are copyright of William Albert Allard
Published by The National Geographic Society

Check out the book here


William Albert Allard: five decades
Steer's head on slaughterhouse floor, Huancayo, 1981
William Albert Allard: Five Decades
Buckaroo T. J. Symonds. IL cow camp, Nevada, 1979
William Albert Allard
Terrace of La Tartine, Rue de Rivoli, Paris, 2002

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