For over thirty years, Jon Allyn has been fascinated with light. His ability to create and control the subtle qualities of light has defined his unique style of illustrative portraiture. His powerful images have earned him countless awards including nineteen Photographer-of-the-Year honors, WPPA Electronic Imager of the year and Professional Photographers of America’s Imaging Excellence Award. He is a familiar finalist at the Grand Imaging Awards and recently took top honors in the PPA Summer Shoot out while finishing first in the Portrait, Commercial and Event categories.
As a popular speaker for over two decades, Jon has shared his passion for photography through educational and entertaining programs. He was inducted into the CameraCraftsmen of America in 2003. His 2004 induction into the Wisconsin Professional Photographers Association’s Hall of Fame and earning the ASP Fellowship in 2013 were both milestones in his continuing quest for excellence.
How did you get started in the business?
A very unlikely and unpredictable chain of events ultimately resulted in me becoming a photographer. Here’s how it happened. Our bowling team had just won the championship and it was decided that we should try our luck at the ABC Bowling Tournament in Nevada. I figured that I should document the big event so I ran out and bought a camera. I’m pretty sure it was a Minolta SRT 101. All I knew about it was that if I turned a couple dials, two needles would align in the viewfinder and I’d get a picture. While in Lake Tahoe, I literally snapped a picture out the 6th floor window of the Cal-Neva Lodge. The glistening water of Lake Tahoe was framed by a foreground of silhouetted pine trees and supported by a background of majestic mountains. It looked like a postcard or something you might find on a travel brochure. Long story short, I had a 16×20 printed and framed by a company in New York. I even had the fake canvas texture crushed into the print. Proudly, I displayed it to my co-workers and sold a copy on the spot.
One of the secretaries suggested that I spend some time in Door County, a very scenic area of Wisconsin, and photograph sailboats, sunsets and the like. She followed it up by saying that I should build a 10×10 display booth and sell the photographs at local art shows. I heeded her sage advice and it changed who I was and who I would become. I was obsessed with creating images.
Who helped, guided, or mentored you?
To identify everyone that has helped/guided and mentored me would be a book in itself. There are literally hundreds of photographers and artists to whom I owe my sincerest gratitude. In the beginning, I was indeed fortunate that I discovered the Winona School for Professional Photography just ninety minutes away. In the next few years, I participated in twelve week-long classes with a variety of instructors including Blair, Cricchio, Evans, Gilbert, Kristian, McIntosh and Silber to name a few. I gained valuable advice from each of them as I continued to evolve. But none of them would have as profound an impact on my photography as Dean Collins. Dean taught me how to master light. Once the technical aspect of photograph became second nature my creativity exploded. Dean’s principles and theories are the cornerstone of my lighting program.
More recently my photographic mentors have been Don Emmerich and Richard Sturdevant.
Do you have any special message or advice to attendees?
When climbing the ladder of success, remember that a Pull from the Top is better than a Push from the Bottom. Choose your mentors wisely. Find the ones that you connect with and then listen. Be prepared to hear and internalize a lot of new information. Forget about everything you’ve done in the past and simply be willing to embrace something new. Implement the new information immediately. Test, track and analyze the results. You’ll quickly discover what suits you and what doesn’t.
How many After Dark Events have you attended? Any favorite or most memorable moment?
AD St. Louis will be my first, but certainly not my last! Favorite moment: So far… it was when Dave Junion asked me to mentor and share all my secret about… (it’s a secret)
What are your top 5 skills?
- Making Difficult Concepts Easy to Leanr & Remember
- Helping Others Achieve Their Dreams!
- Canon Shooter
- Specialty Market: Not an easy question to answer. My specialty is becoming a specialist in the market or genre that offers the greatest potential at the moment. By that I mean, in the early 90′s Glamour Photography was just starting up. I transitioned into that area about 18 months ahead of the boom. I was on the leading edge of the wedding market in my area when it became huge. Commercial portraiture has always been a big part of my business. And in the last 3 years, it has been Fine Art Sports. Thanks to Dean Collins, I can make any genre my next niche.
- If you’ve read this far, you probably expect me to be teaching lighting. Not this time. Most everyone can make a salable image already. But what good is it if you can’t sell it? What if someone could teach you “people” skills so making the sale becomes as much fun at taking the photographs. I know. Hard to believe. That’s just a tiny part of what I’l be teaching this time at AD.
Majority of Business:
- Commercial Portraiture
- HS Seniors
- Any and all photons available. Studio lights are Photogenic for the most part with wide variety of modifiers. Outdoor lighting starts with ambient light with scrims, reflectors and gobos for manipulation. It often changes from ambient light to available light, which literally means anything emitting light that I can use to enhance my vision and tell the story. Sometimes that means OCF, video lights, flashlights, headlights of cars, candles, welding torches, campfires, you name it.