Excerpt Originally published in Street Photography Magazine
I spoke with British photographer and filmmaker Timothy Allen via Skype as I began my day on the West Coast of the United States and he was wrapping up his afternoon on his remote farm in Wales.
Although he rarely photographs in urban settings, Allen is an expert when it comes to human culture and interaction. For two years, he shot 90 % of the landmark BBC series, Human Planet. The show took him to some of the most remote corners of the world, places he now continues to seek out on his own. Follow his stunning work on Instagram here: https://www.instagram.com/timothy_allen/
Allen’s passion for photography was launched when he left the UK at age 22 after earning a zoology degree and spent three years traveling through Indonesia as part of an ecological research group. He later began a working towards a degree in photography and joined an aid convoy to Bosnia, shooting photographs for his first year reportage project. Allen then landed photography positions with the Sunday Telegraph, many British broadsheet commissions and a six-year position at The Independent. He also joined the Axiom Photographic Agency in 2002, work that led him further around the globe. In 2009, he began working for Human Planet.
In recent years Allen is spending less time as a traditional photographer and more time authoring books, leading photography expeditions to Mongolia and making films. Although he said he originally left still photography “kicking and screaming,” he is happy to have adapted with the times in a world that’s changing rapidly for professional photographers.
In fact, when we spoke, he said he would be leaving soon to live with the Ninet people, also known as Samoyeds, an indigenous people in northern Arctic Russia. This expedition is purely personal, he said. He wants to know the people, learn from them. And, he said, his photography and filmmaking is always less about documentation and more about being immersed in culture. He likes to know the people he is photographing.
“I don’t want images of strangers,” he said.
When asked if he has a favorite location after years of travel to the far reaches, he replied, “My favorite place is the one I haven’t been to yet.”
*Images copyright Timothy Allen