Meet our Guest Specialist: Chip Allen, Photographer


Chip Allen never thought he could make a living doing something he loved. “I have had a love of photography, architecture & construction since childhood,” he recounts. “But my business mind kept saying ‘you can’t make a living at art!’” Five years out of business school with his marketing degree from CA State Chico, Chip found himself volunteering for his company’s in-house graphics and photography projects. “I just kept going back to my need to create art.”


He made the jump to combine his business acumen with his passion as an architectural photographer, and it was the right decision. He feels fortunate to be surrounded by talented professionals and to photograph their finished product – the buildings. “Besides getting paid for doing something I truly love, I get a lot of satisfaction from making photos that ‘wow’ the audience,” Chip says. “Especially when the viewer has a first-hand connection to the image.”


Photography has certainly changed over the time Chip has been in business. He notes that the proliferation of social media sites like Instagram has challenged photographers to go above and beyond. No longer are people happy with just “pretty” images. “They’re standard now. Expected,” he says. But Chip sees this as a challenge he can meet, creating 360-degree by 180-degree images that grab the viewer’s attention and make them want to keep looking around. And he understands the importance of high-quality photography to his AEC clients. Says Chip, “In an interview, I want my client’s prospective client to say ‘wow!..... I’d like you to build me an interior or building like this!’”


AEC clients appreciate Chip’s easy ability to walk them through the photo process, to ensure his photography does not affect a building’s occupants, and his quick turnaround for finished product. “I’m not going to be shutting down the project or taking their time away from the work to capture images. Letting the client see how my process showcases their work is something I love to do. Not to mention, I can have retouched images to clients in less than five business days, so I like to keep things moving!”


One of Chip’s favorite experiences as an architectural photographer was in 2009, when he was asked to photograph the newly-renovated Standard Oil (Chevron) corporate headquarters, originally built in 1923. The historic architecture and note-worthy renovations were significant to Chip, but it wasn’t until a few days after the photoshoot that Chip learned through his father that his grandfather had worked in that exact office building for over 20 years. “Out of all of the buildings in San Francisco, this is the building I photograph!?” exclaims Chip.


In a sink-or-swim profession, Chip Allen is certainly enjoying the water.

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