Keeping it Local: ‘Pictures trigger memories,’ Laurel photographer says

By 
Jaci Webb Of The Laurel Outlook - Yellowstone Group
Thursday, January 20, 2022
Keeping it Local: ‘Pictures trigger memories,’ Laurel photographer says

Keeping it Local: ‘Pictures trigger memories,’ Laurel photographer says

All the Laurel athletes know Gloria Allwin.

She’s the gregarious grandmother behind the long lens at almost every sporting event you can imagine. Her favorite sport to shoot these days is cross country because her grandchildren are runners.

Allwin goes the distance to get the perfect. At one track meet, she logged five miles moving around the track to get photos. And when she’s not shooting sports, Allwin is photographing the natural world, everything from the iconic bison in Yellowstone National Park to a den of fox in her back pasture. One of her all-time favorite shots is of a flock of tiny bluebirds.

“I said, ‘Please God, bring me a bluebird to my feeder. ‘Then, my friend called and said there are about 20 to 30 bluebirds just a mile up Thiel Road.”

Allwin met her friend and got the perfect shot of the brilliant blue birds feeding on a Russian olive tree against a snowy background. She has the photo framed and mounted behind her living room sofa. Others like the photo as well and Allwin has sold framed prints of the photo that she took during a freak April snowstorm three years ago. She loves blowing bubbles and taking photos of the ice formations that form on them. When she shot a video of the bubbles and posted it to Facebook so her seven grandkids could see it, the video went viral.

Allwin is a member of the Billings Camera Club and takes at least one trip a year with a friend or two to take photos. In February, Allwin and eight friends have chartered a snow coach to take them through Yellowstone Park, one of her favorite places to shoot pictures.

“I love God’s creations and I just feel like I want to bring those home,” Allwin said.

Each year, Alwin enters photos in MontanaFair, and last year she entered 30 photos, earning a whole bunch of ribbons. Metra-Park bought two of her photos, and one—a photo at dusk of a ferris wheel at the Iowa State Fair —hangs in the MetraPark lobby.

Photography has been a lifelong passion for Allwin, who grew up in Malta, and moved to Billings in the late 1960s to attend bible college. She started taking pictures with her mom’s box camera when Allwin was 10 years old. The film was expensive and those rare times when she was able to use a camera were precious to her. So she bought her own.

“My senior year I sold magazines all over town to buy my first camera,” Allwin said,

When her mother passed away and Alwin was cleaning out the house, she found that old Ansco Shur Shot, which she bought back in 1968. The camera is a keepsake for her, but the real magic happens with her beloved Nikon. Allwin is upgrading to one of the mirror-less models, which offer a sharper image. Having the right camera is important, but there are other factors involved in getting the right shot.

“They always say, ‘Your camera takes good pictures,’ but it’s not just the camera. You have to have good technique and know how to use your camera,” Allwin said.

Allwin puts her sports photos on her Facebook page—All Win Sports Photos and Events Photos—and allows parents and athletes to grab photos for free to remember a special game. If a fan wants more photos, she will upload a flash drive for them for a nominal charge. For Allwin, it’s all about sharing the memories. She lost her only son, Ross, and discovered that she had very few photos of him. That spurred her to take more pictures of her two daughters and seven grandchildren, and many other Laurel athletes.

“I just want parents to have memories, pictures trigger memories. I am paid by their appreciation for my pictures. The kids will come up and thank me, and I have received many, many gift cards from people. It encourages you when you see their appreciation.”

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