We had the good fortune of connecting with Ellen Cantor and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Ellen, is there something that you feel is most responsible for your success?
Photography is my third career. I feel the skills I learned from my previous careers—teacher, party kit designer and interior designer-have helped me to become who I am as a photographer. They taught me how to see the world and how to get work out in the world. I have translated previous experiences into those traits I need as a photographer. Being a fine art photographer and having a fine art photography business are activities that use different proficiencies I always wanted to take photographs that expressed who I am and where I came from, but I also wanted to have them spread joy to people who see them and hopefully purchase my work. One is the creative output; the other is marketing a product. Making the work is one aspect. Selling it is another, sometimes at cross purposes. I have always made photographs that tell my personal story and then I work hard to get them out in the world—entering exhibits, seeking galleries and outlets for my photographs, finding a mentor and and never giving up on my long term goals are important factors in my success.
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
I have always done Art, but growing up never considered myself an Artist. As a child, Art was for fun. When it came to selecting a career, my parents encouraged to be practical and steered me into teaching. As an elementary school teacher, my favorite subject to teach was Art. Later in life, I developed party kits for children’s birthday parties and eventually returned to school to study Interior Design. Finally, I discovered my true calling-Fine Art Photographer. Although I have studied at various photography centers, I am basically self-taught. I had to learn the skills and techniques needed to succeed and overcome my own feelings of not having a photography degree. I have learned that career paths are never a straight line and the journey zigs and zags, but every event or choice along the way leads to a more meaningful life. Working hard and constantly is a given, but although there are bumps and often mountains in our way, perseverance always pays off.
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
Living in the South Bay, the first thing I would do is take them on a ride along Palos Verdes South and West to see the ocean, stopping to see whales, watching the sunset and having a meal or drink at Terranea Resort. We would also stop at the Point Vicente Interpretive Center, an homage to Marineland, which used to be along the ocean in Palos Verdes. This ride is as beautiful as the South of France. Next day, we would take a walk in Hermosa Beach along the Strand and stop for breakfast at Martha’s, a casual hangout a few steps from the sand. If we had more time, we would hit the boutiques and restaurants on Catalina in Redondo Beach.
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
I would like to give a shoutout to The Los Angeles Center of Photography, Julia Dean, the founder and Aline Smithson, an outstanding teacher that I have been fortunate to have guide me on the journey of becoming a Fine Art Photography. LACP is located in Culver City and offers classes, workshops, seminars and lectures. They offer many opportunities to exhibit in their gallery, now online during Covid. They have juried exhibitions and many opportunities to learn new skills and brush up on the rusty ones. LACP, Julia Dean and Aline Smithson have been beacons for me, especially during Covid. I would also like to give a shoutout to The Griffin Museum of Photography, Paula Torgnarelli, Director and Crista Dix, Assistant Director where I have had 2 exhibits of my work. During Covid, I have had many opportunities to take online classes at the Center for Photographic Art and The Houston Center of Photography