Born in Passaic, New Jersey, in 1945, Allan Tannenbaum has been photographing since the 1960s. He received a B.A. in Art from Rutgers University in 1967, where he photographed and made films for his art courses. He made films as a graduate student at San Francisco State College and as an independent filmmaker in New York. Gravitating to the nascent art scene in the SoHo district of Manhattan, Allan worked as a taxi driver and bartender while looking for work as a photographer. When the SoHo Weekly News began publication in 1973, he became the photo editor and chief photographer. Allan covered the art world, music scene, politics, show business, and nightlife until 1982 when the SoHo News folded. For Allan, the high point of this period was photographing John Lennon and Yoko Ono for the paper -- the low point was the murder of John Lennon 10 days later.
While working for the SoHo News, Allan also freelanced for magazines such as Newsweek and New York. He also syndicated his SoHo News photos to newspapers, magazines, and photo agencies. After the SoHo News closed, he joined the renowned Sygma Photo News as a staff photographer, covering important national and international stories. These included the Philippine Revolution, violent demonstrations in Korea, German reunification, political unrest in Northern Ireland, Operation Desert Storm in Kuwait and Iraq, the Gulf Crisis in 1998, and the Rwandan refugee crisis. He won a first prize in Spot New Stories at the World Press Photo competition in 1989 for his coverage of the Palestinian Intifada.
Allan's work has appeared in many photo books and exhibitions. Allan has photographed covers for Time and Newsweek. He also has had his photographs appear regularly in Newsweek, Time, Life, Rolling Stone, Paris Match and Stern.
In 2003, Allan published his first book, "New York in the 70s," based on his photographs from the SoHo News era. The book received critical acclaim and a new edition published was published in April, 2009. A second book of later New York City photos, titled "New York," was published in 2005. His third book, "John & Yoko: A New York Love Story", based on his intimate photographs of John Lennon and Yoko Ono, was published in 2007. It was named by American Photo Magazine as one of the year's best photography books and won a Gold Medal in the 2008 Independent Book Publisher Awards.