Hi, I am Paul Allen.
I am a photographer in Burnsville Minnesota. I do a wide range of photography including portraits, headshots, event, concerts, product, corporate/commercial, fine art and, of course, sports. My love of photography began in the same way as many other hobbyist photographers, at my kids' sporting events. During the course of their formative athletic careers, I was also developing my photography skills. It wasn't long before I was taking pictures of the whole team at games and sharing those with the other families. In 2018, I started volunteering for the Athletic Department at Apple Valley High School and began shooting as many sporting events as I could possibly make it to. I continue to expand my range of genres to maintain keen interest in new challenges while working to continually improve in areas I'm familiar with.
Lots of people asked what got me into photography. I figured I should document that in a single place so I can consistently tell the same story. Details like date slip my mind and I have to re-research myself to nail them down just about every time.
The year is 2012 and my daughter is 9 years old playing her first full year as a dedicated ice hockey goalie. I'd been taking pictures of her playing sports for a couple of years, but this year was a turning point for me. There was a guy that was set up at a tournament in a neighboring town. He had the monitors and printers and everything ready to go for sales right then and there. 8x10s were $35 or you could order your whole team from the whole weekend on CD for $300. He happened to get a great shot of my kid making a leg pad save. The image was fantastic and made my daughter feel really good about her capabilities, but at the time, a hot dog for lunch at the concession stand was an actual financial decision. The look of sheer disappointment that I got from her when I told her that we couldn't buy the print absolutely broke my heart. I decided right then and there that I was going to get good at this photography thing and I would shoot my daughter and all of her teammates and money would never be an issue.
Fast forward a few years (2018), my daughter is now in high school and playing on our varsity women's ice hockey team (and softball and swimming and ultimate frisbee). At this point, I've gotten pretty good at shooting sports images. I had many teams from the high school request that I come out and shoot them, which, if I could make it work, I did and the same philosophy applied, money would never be an issue for these kids. It really got to the point of where it was time that I go talk to the AD and see if he would just let me shoot everything. He agreed that this would be good for the students, the school and our community on the whole. I've been sharing more than 30K images per year with the students and their families ever since.
The 2021 (graduating year) sports seasons were remarkably important as all sports had limited attendance or some of them no attendance allowed at all due to COVID. That year, I shot between 4 and 6 days a week (after my full time job). In 120 days of school, I made it to 271 individual events and shared over 35K images with the students and their families who could not see their kids compete.
My time is valuable to me and I wouldn't want to spend it any other way than giving it freely to kids so their parents NEVER get that look of disappointment I got on that cold February afternoon in 2012. While my time is valuable, my gear has a fixed price that time will never pay for. I do charge for some services, like senior and family portraits as well as some corporate and event work. I price myself considerably lower than the "market rate" in my area, not because I want to race to the bottom or because I want to undercut all of the other well qualified togs in my area, but I want to make sure that EVERYONE has the opportunity to participate in the full senior year experience.
Every ounce of money that I earn from portraits or through "thank you" cards from booster clubs goes back to the kids. Either in the form of new gear so I can continue to shoot them for free or, on particularly good years, through graduation cards. I always try to find a way to put the kids first when it comes to photography.
More than anything else, I want to show the kids (not just tell them) that the only reason you need to do something good for your community is simply the ability to do so.