Sunday, September 15, 2013

Photography business takes to the air

WORCESTER — Worcester Aerial Photography, a new business at the Worcester Regional Airport, is planning to take area photography to new heights.

The company was founded in May and is setting its sights on an innovative way to view Worcester and its surrounding towns, with aerial shots taken from 1,000 to 2,000 feet above the ground. Founder George Charles Allen decided to combine his lifelong passion for flight with his skills in photography to create a new business venture.

Mr. Allen has been in and out of planes since he was 3 years old, joining his father, Bill Allen, in his enthusiasm for aviation. He would eventually fly as a part of the Civil Air Patrol, doing work for the Red Cross, FEMA and MEMA. Later, he helped found the Worcester Regional Flight Academy.

"I had been flying around here so much that I know the aerial view very well," Mr. Allen said of the inspiration for his venture. "I've gotten to know all the nooks and crannies of Worcester, all the unique spots that people maybe wouldn't even think about, or that you wouldn't even see when you are driving around."

Worcester Aerial Photography uses a high-wing Cessna 172, which is flown by a skilled pilot while Mr. Allen shoots photos with a Canon digital SLR camera. The standard client package involves aerial photos of a 25-mile radius around Worcester and its surrounding towns, but accommodations can be made for shooting destinations outside the radius. Clients can go along, provided the airplane remains within safe weight limits.

The photographs are a unique way to view the city. The end product is well suited for real estate assessments, construction, and businesses looking for exciting shots for the office or to show investors. Mr. Allen said the only limitation is a client's imagination.

"I want to show the citizens of Worcester the city that they are living in," Mr. Allen said. "I want to give them a totally new perspective."

Mr. Allen, a Clark University graduate, had been shooting photos for years when he dug into his interest in photography while working on a doctorate degree at the University of Edinburgh. The Scottish countryside proved to be an invaluable tool for learning the nuances of photography. When he returned home, he helped start the Worcester Regional Flight School and then Worcester Aerial Photography.

"I was expecting to be a professor and get a Ph.D," Mr. Allen said. "But, once the opportunity to become an entrepreneur came around, I took hold of it, and I'm glad I did. I wouldn't go back and do anything differently at this point."

Looking back, he said, it seemed as if Worcester Aerial Photography was destined to come together, as Mr. Allen kept a camera by his side while the flight school grew.

"As things settled down with the flight school I always had a camera in my hand trying to get photos of our students, but then I started pointing it out the window and started getting really cool shots, and I thought, 'I can do something with this,' " he said.

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