The son of a Swedish immigrant, photographer and writer William Albert Allard was born in 1937 in Minneapolis, Minnesota. He studied at the Minneapolis School of Fine Arts and the University of Minnesota.
Allard is a photographer of people. One of the few photographers of his generation whose entire professional body of work is in color, he has contributed to National Geographic Society publications as a staff, freelance, and contract photographer and writer since 1964.
Over the course of his career at National Geographic, Allard has contributed as a photographer to some 40 National Geographic magazine articles, as well as to a number of National Geographic books. His stories for the magazine have included "Rodeos: Behind the Chutes," "Untouchables," "Bohemian Rhapsody," "Welcome to Bollywood," "Thailand's Urban Giants," and "Hutterite Sojourn." He has also been published in most major United States and European publications and has photographed around the world. Allard has published several critically acclaimed books, including Vanishing Breed; The Photographic Essay; A Time We Knew: Images of Yesterday in the Basque Homeland; Time at the Lake: A Minnesota Album; and Portraits of America.
A former contributor to Magnum Photos, Allard's prints appear in many private and museum collections. Allard divides his time between homes in Missoula, Montana, and in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains near Charlottesville, Virginia, with his wife, Ani, and their son Anthony.