Today we are featuring the work of photographer Ellen Picker, the very first subject of “10 Questions for a Charlottesville artist”. Ellen’s work is ethereal and just so beautiful. I was intrigued by it so much that I had to get more info! It turns out that she has a show coming up next month on September 2 at the WVTF and Radio IQ Studio Gallery. I hope you will enjoy this peek into her process and inspiration.
The Charlotte: Where did you grow up?
Ellen Picker: I did most of my growing up in Norfolk, Virginia, but I also got to live in California and Italy for a few years. My parents are from Northern California, and with all the visiting relatives and trips there, I feel like a part of me is forever attached to the west coast. Moving around while growing up was difficult, but I think it definitely gave me a passion for being adventurous and also gave me a certain independence.
The Charlotte: What has been a seminal experience to your work?
EP: I’d have to say meeting my (now) best friend, Chelsea Hicks, in our first year of college really changed the way I treat photography. She is the subject in a good amount of my photographs, and we’ve had a wonderful time being creative together–between picking out outfits for shoots, locations, the stories we want to tell through my photography, etc., she has really made it something special for me. It feels good to share the experience with someone who enjoys it on the other side. While I love being behind the camera, she has been an eager participant in the whole process, and I love that our friendship has deepened through these shared experiences and beautiful moments that we’ve been able to archive through film.
The Charlotte: What camera(s) do you use?
EP: I got a Canon AE-1 in high school, when I first really got into photography, and have been using that ever since for all my film photography. When I got to college I decided I wanted an SLR digital camera, but didn’t really do too much research. My parents gave me a Canon Rebel XSI for Christmas a few years ago, and I’ve been pretty happy with it. I imagine that after I spend more time looking into digital cameras I’ll pick out a more involved one, but as for my ae-1, I’ll use it ‘til the very last shot.
The Charlotte: What brought you to Charlottesville?
EP: The good ole University of Virginia! I’m just starting my fourth year, getting my Bachelor’s in English Literature & Writing and my Masters in Secondary English Education. My older sister Maddy also lives in Charlottesville, so I love that I get to be close to her.
The Charlotte: Who or what is inspiring to you right now?
EP: This summer I spent a month in Portugal, and just the experience of being a foreigner who doesn’t speak the language really struck me and forced me to live life almost without words. I got to focus on telling stories through my photographs. Other things that inspire me right now– morning light coming in through the windows, driving through the country, children, witnessing acts of kindness, Flannery O’Connor and Gabriel García Márquez, pistachio and mint chip ice cream.
The Charlotte: Are you working on any projects at the moment?
EP: I’ve just finished up my series “It’s an Introvert’s World”, which will be showing on September 2 at the New City Arts space from 5-7 pm. There will be food and wine provided by Feast, and I’m really excited to have my first official show! Also, while in Portugal this summer, I kept a photo blog: www.searchfornoahlennox.tumblr.com
The Charlotte: Is there a place in Charlottesville that you go to be inspired?
EP: Overall, I tend to be most inspired by the beauty and solitude in nature: I love driving in the country, with the blur of abandoned barns and farm animals; seeing things for an instant but having them remain in my mind. Going on late night runs around town is something I find very beautiful—the streams of car lights and empty busses flying by. And I would be lying if I didn’t mention that my bedroom is always a place where my creative juices start flowing.
The Charlotte: What themes do you pursue?
EP: The quiet moment. Internal lives. Longing. Exploration. Funk. The peace and abandon found in nature.
The Charlotte: What memorable responses have you had to your work?
EP: I remember one time Ross McDermott walked up to me and was like, “Who’s that girl in all your pictures?” Then he told me I should be a fashion photographer.
The Charlotte: What is your dream project or job?
EP: I’d love to somehow be involved in making a film at some point. I’d also really like to be a mom (eventually).
The Charlotte: Oh one more: Do you take commissions?
EP: Of course!
Thanks, Ellen! We love your work and can’t wait to see more of it!