A most inspiring and aesthetically pleasing presentation was enjoyed by the Pattaya City Expats Club (PCEC) at their weekly Sunday meeting on July 14 when world famous Getty Photographer and world traveler, Glen Allison painted his life’s journey. Glen’s presentation was entitled “Tribal Wild Steampunk Train: A Global Quest of Self-Awakening and Inspiration.” Glen acknowledged that the title was cryptic, but that all would be revealed as he did his presentation.
Glen is a renowned travel photographer who began as an architect and then reinvented himself in different roles as he followed his dream. He gave his PCEC audience a vicarious nonstop, nine-year marathon journey that traversed the far reaches of the planet encompassing more than one hundred countries. Many photos were depicted in his slideshow presentation.
He said his journey was a visionary adventure launched from the pit of misfortune and bankruptcy that propelled him along a self-awakened path toward the heights of career recognition as one of the ten most published travel photographers of the world. It’s a light-hearted story of intense struggle, reinvention, perseverance, and resilience—a trajectory rekindling impossible dreams almost buried by lessons needing to be learned.
Glen Allison started out as an architect as he holds a Bachelor of Architecture degree from the University of California, Berkeley. However, he found being an architectural photographer more to his liking. But, with a downturn in the real estate market, he had to find a new career. Since he was well versed in photography, this led him to reinventing himself as a travel photographer.
In doing so, he chose a career as an endlessly wandering vagabond embracing no roots — a homeless lifestyle by choice spanning three decades during most of which he maintained no permanent residence. During this period, his focus was to capture iconic travel photographs. He mentioned that he chose well known subjects around the world, but chose to make his photographs a bit different. Not only famous sites but also the indigenous people, such as those of New Guinea wearing penis gourds – one of which he shows on the cover of his travel book, yes, another reinvention as an author, entitled “Penis Gourds & Moscow Muggings, A Photographer’s Tales of Far-Flung Travels.” Thus, the Tribal Wild in his topic title. He also has written a novel, “The Journey from Kamakura,” whose central character is, of course, a travel photographer. Both are available from Amazon.
He displayed many images and described how he made them different from just a picture of a building or person; such as some which required he get up at 4am so he could arrive early to set up the shot and then wait for the right moment; or to visit a site several times until he found what he was looking for. But, with digital photography taking the place of film, he has found that he can make changes to his photos to enhance, rearrange, or add a background of his choosing.
His efforts brought him success, with many of his photographs represented by Getty Images which resulted in his imagery being published in excess of 100 thousand times in most of the world’s leading travel publications, including National Geographic and Conde Nast Traveler. He mentioned that this brought in a nice income, but the mega buck glory days didn’t last forever as most image contributors in the stock photo industry have taken a major financial hit due to the proliferation of imagery on the internet and the onslaught of digital photography which created an oversaturated marketplace seemingly overnight ultimately resulting in massive devaluation of online stock photos. So, he soon found himself yet again exploring the fine art of rebirth and reinvention.
But, since he had a nest egg from his past sales, he decided to reinvent himself again as an architect. Having found a place in Bali, he decided to design and build his dream home. But this became more expensive than he expected and found himself again low on funds with his project only partially completed. But, as before, he found that he could still follow his dream by reinventing himself, which led to being a Fashion Photographer and Fine Art Photographer.
Also, over the past five decades, he has been an active leader in the Soka Gakkai International, a lay Buddhist organization of twelve million people dedicated to self-development as a foundation for individual citizens to embrace the universal promotion of peace, education and the celebration of all cultures. Glen is also the original founder of the Stock Artists Alliance, a pioneering professional trade organization with six hundred of the world’s leading photographers who, in a “David against Goliath” campaign during the early 2000s, challenged the gluttonous pursuits of outsized global corporate business entities intent on usurping professional photographer’s intellectual property rights.
In closing, Glen said he has plans for doing another world tour this time seeking out steam locomotive museums for the purpose of doing integrated, computer generated art pieces. He has already done some from photographs he has previously made that he refers to as Steampunk Train on his website, which can be visited at https://glenallison.com/.
He let his audience know, that at 73, he is still pursuing his dream. In coming weeks he will launch another bucket-list item to be checked off his never-ending roster, confirming that he remains a lifelong dreamer vagabond. His new venture, which will involve a marathon 100 consecutive nonstop weeks traveling to 100 global cities to photograph the most exquisite 100 vintage steam locomotive museums of the world.
In his closing remarks, he said that you should remember the old saying, if the world gives you lemons, build a lemonade stand. He encouraged everyone that ‘we should never give up pursuing our dreams’. If you want to do it: Go for it.
The presentation was followed by announcements and news of special interest groups, then the Open Forum where the audience can ask questions or make comments about expat living in Thailand, especially Pattaya. For more information about the PCEC, visit www.pcec.club.