Robert Aller was born in Springfield, Massachusetts in 1947. He is originally a self-taught photographer who began making photographs at the age of nine in an improvised darkroom in a friends Victorian Era house in the North End of Springfield. Much of his time as a young boy was in hanging around with friends on street corners and in doorways of old apartment buildings avoiding trouble whenever possible.
Later, after completing studies in Journalism, his foundational approach to photographing subject matter was in observing how people interacted on the street and in their relationship to the city environment. He developed an appreciation for the documentary street photography aesthetic which seemed more in line with his own picture-making feelings and objectives at that time. In time his ideas about subject matter changed as evidenced in the body of work entitled Transfigured Landscapes, expressing an interest in Man’s attitude toward the natural landscape, and how it is often altered and manipulated for man’s own use. Eventually, returning to photographing people in the context of their surrounding environment. When making pictures, the image is the connection or link to a subconscious past memory experienced. And, in some way, the picture is also a reference or notation of that experience. The camera is a kind of memory machine that records certain instances latently on film, then to paper that feel related to each other. The camera provides evidence and a thread back to places he experienced in his youth.
He received his BA from the University of Massachusetts-Amherst, and his MFA from the Milton Avery Graduate School of the Arts at Bard College, Annandale-on-Hudson, New York. While studying within the Five College Studies Program at Hampshire College, Amherst, Massachusetts, he was influenced by the photographers – Elaine Mayes, Jerry Liebling, Bill Arnold, and filmmaker Tom Joslin, who were faculty there in the 1970’s. Other influences included Linda Connor while at Apeiron Workshops in Millerton, NY also in the 1970’s. Later influences included Ben Lifson while studying at Bard College.
His photographs have been published in Changing Prospects: The View from Mount Holyoke, a monograph of historical and contemporary paintings and photographs published by Cornell University Press for the exhibition at Mount Holyoke College Art Museum in 2002 depicting the nearby Mount Holyoke Range. The exhibition also featured Thomas Cole’s original painting, ‘View From Mount Holyoke, Northampton, Massachusetts, after a Thunderstorm–The Oxbow,’ painted in 1836. Other publications where his work has been included are in the monographs Phone.tography, and Unclothed:The Human Form, both published by the Vermont Center for Photography, Brattleboro, Vermont. Also, Newfoundland: An Unusual Twilight, a 2014 self-published monograph of color photographs made off the eastern coast of Newfoundland on Fogo Island and vicinity. And Envisages, a monograph of various mobile photography portraits using the iPhone, also self-published in 2014.His work is in the following collections: Museum of Modern Art, New York Smith College Museum of Art, Northampton, MA Danforth Museum of Art, Framingham, MA William Benton Museum of Art, UCONN-Storrs University Museum of Contemporary Art, University of Massachusetts-Amherst Mount Holyoke College Art Museum, South Hadley, MA Holyoke Community College, Holyoke, MA Maine Museum of Photographic Arts, Portland, Maine Elizabeth Moss Gallery, Falmouth, Maine Professor of Photography from 1982-2017, he retired in 2016 from Holyoke Community College, Massachusetts.
He lives in the foothills of the Berkshires in Chesterfield Massachusetts.
All photographs on this site ©Robert Aller 2018 All Rights Reserved.