First UMC Member Feature: Allan Walker

(written by Jamie Kolnes)

Allan Walker has been a treasured member of First UMC Santa Monica since 1947, where he was first drawn in as a teen by our music program. He spent several summers as the Director of the Youth Choir, and loved it. Walker has since stayed with the church for the community and spirit we share. We were so incredibly blessed to have had Allan Walker as our main church photographer for over 20 years.

Walker’s love of photography began in high school, when he and his friends joined the camera club. Walker loved the field trips and taking photographs of nearby scenery. He had been interested in science during high school, and began his college career studying pharmacy sciences. However, after his first year at USC, Walker was drafted into the army, where he served as a rifleman in Korea. Thanks to his typing skills, Walker was able to secure a job as the regimental headquarters clerk, where he started to help work on the local military newspaper.

When he left the army after two years of service, Walker was able to use his G.I. bill to obtain his degree in photography from the Art Center School in Los Angeles. His first job out of college was the Corporate Photographer for System Development Corporation (SDC), in Santa Monica. This was a very competitive position. SDC had computerized our air defense system for the US Air Force. At the time, they ran 95% of the computer systems in the United States. Walker had worked to illustrate articles written by the SDC magazine with photography. He stayed with them until the company was bought out by Sperry Rand Corporation.

Walker’s next step was to create his own freelance business. Allan and his wife, Caprice, whom he met and married at First UMC Santa Monica, built their home in Santa Monica Canyon. They added spaces for photography and ballet respectively. Walker’s career picked up exponentially, doing a variety of different jobs for advertising agencies, public relations firms, magazines, and more. When asked, Walker’s favorite kind of pictures to take are raw, candid moments of real life.

Walker started officially taking photographs for the church when Rev. Farris had wanted to start putting out a monthly magazine to cover church events. Over his years as our photographer, Walker attended most events, and has taken thousands of photos. When asked about his favorite aspect of photography, Walker answered “experimenting to get new ideas.” As an artist, Walker has worked a variety of jobs, and experimented with many different mediums. During our interview, where Walker’s wife Caprice was present, she recalled a question that Walker was asked on one of their vacations in the North Shore. A man had asked Walker, “How do you think photography has changed art?” Walker replied with “Photography freed the artist.” Walker believes that photography has opened up the opportunity for so much of the diversity in art. Artists are no longer limited with what they can draw, paint, or sculpt.

As photography has evolved, so have Walker’s skills. He became a “Jack of all trades,” learning digital photography as it had been invented, and working with all subjects during his time as a freelance photographer.

Now that he is retired, Walker enjoys his time with Caprice, his wife of 57 years, and family. Allan and Caprice love to feed the hummingbirds in their yard and look after their grandchildren’s two Guinea pigs. They regularly attend worship, and look forward to attending in person events.

We treasure both the photographs we have that were taken by Allan Walker and his strong presence in our community. He has captured so many special memories of our beautiful church and its members.

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