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Behind the Lens: Japanese-American woman takes off-beaten path to photography career at Robins

Behind the Lens

ROBINS AIR FORCE BASE, Ga. – Misuzu Allen, who did the “Women at Robins” photo feature story for March 2019, is a visual information specialist with Robins Public Affairs. Allen, a native of Ako City, Japan, found her love of photography after her Palace Acquire Internship eventually landed her in Public Affairs in 2007. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tommie Horton)

Behind the lens

ROBINS AIR FORCE BASE, Ga. – Misuzu Allen, Robins Public Affairs visual information specialist, accessions her photos from the March Commander’s Book Club, March 27, 2019, at Robins Air Force Base, Georgia. Allen, a native of Ako City, Japan, found her way into photography through the Palace Acquire Internship program in 2007. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tommie Horton)

Behind the Lens

ROBINS AIR FORCE BASE, Ga. – Misuzu Allen, who did the “Women at Robins” photo feature story for March 2019, is a visual information specialist with Robins Public Affairs. Allen, a native of Ako City, Japan, found her love of photography after her Palace Acquire Internship eventually landed her in Public Affairs in 2007. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tommie Horton)

Behind the lens

ROBINS AIR FORCE BASE, Ga. – Misuzu Allen (left), Robins Public Affairs visual information specialist, takes photos of Capt. Amanda Kirschke (right), 116th Air Control Wing executive officer, and Master Sgt. Bree Morgan-Jones, 16th Air Command and Control Squadron superintendent with the 461st Air Control Wing, for her Women At Robins photo feature story, March 20, 2019. Allen, who hails from Ako City, Japan, began working at Robins Air Force Base, Georgia, as a Palace Acquire Intern in 2007 and found her love of photography when she joined the Public Affairs career field. (U.S. Air Force photo by Shellie-Anne Espinosa)

Behind the Lens

ROBINS AIR FORCE BASE, Ga. – Misuzu Allen (right), Robins Public Affairs visual information specialist, takes photos of Tracy Lance, with the 561st Aircraft Maintenance Squadron, for her Women at Robins photo feature story, March 19, 2019. Allen found her love of photography when she joined the Palace Acquire Internship program that eventually landed in her Public Affairs and really opened up the world of visual information for her. (U.S. Air Force photo by Shellie-Anne Espinosa)

ROBINS AIR FORCE BASE, Ga. --

You may have seen Misuzu Allen’s photos on Robins’ Facebook page or the base’s website, but do you know this woman behind the lens?

Her story is as unique as the ones her photos capture every day.

The Japanese-American came to the U.S in 1992, when her husband’s job brought him back to the states. A short time after earning her information technology degree and landing her Air Force career through the Palace Acquire Internship, Allen’s audiovisual career took off. 

Allen began working at the Museum of Aviation in 2005 as an information technology specialist.

In 2007, she started working in multimedia, and transitioned into public affairs later that year.

“Although I had an IT degree, I was moved to the position of multimedia specialist that required mostly managing graphics, video and photograph areas,” she said.  “At the beginning of my internship, I didn’t take photos. When I moved to PA, I was given the opportunity to learn photography.”

Allen fell in love with the camera.

She learned her trade on the coattails of fellow photographers, as well as using YouTube and several other internet sites to hone her skills.

“There are tons of photos and photographers out there to use as role models,” she said. “I use the data embedded in these photos to see different camera settings used to achieve certain effects. Nowadays, there are many how-to resources I can look into when it comes to challenging situations.”

Even her 5-foot-2-inch stature hasn’t stopped her from getting good shots of important ceremonies and other happenings around Robins.

“Sometimes, I wish I were taller so I could shoot a photo the way it needs to be captured,” she said. “But, I make do with what I’ve got, using a step stool or unique angles to help me get to the height I need.”

Allen counts herself fortunate to get to be part of people’s special moments.

“It is an honorable job to serve at people’s milestones and memorable occasions, such as Airmen promotions, awards and other recognitions,” she said.

Getting to express herself through her work is fulfilling.

“Sometimes I visualize what I want to take,” she said.  “When I can take photos that match what I imagined, it is a joy.  Plus, when I improvise and it produces a quality photo more than I can imagine, it’s the best feeling.”

Allen said she’s always thinking about her job and how she can do it better.

“All my work play into national security, after all,” she said. “I believe taking good photos raises the morale, motivation and welfare of our Airmen. When those are improved, everyone performs their mission better. I also want to show people how hard Robins’ Airmen work and what a great job they are doing at protecting our country.”

At the end of the day, Allen said she’s honored to be the face behind the lens, Robins’ history in the making.