Bio Helen Ellis

I was born in the Finger Lakes region of New York State, attended public schools, and received a BA in English from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. I lived in France after graduation, and hitchhiked around Europe, developing a passion for travel and for exploration. Sometime after moving to Manhattan, I began working for a program that outreached to homeless people. It was here that I began to learn photography, observing the extraordinary faces and lives of the people who inhabited an invisible world. I lived in Nicaragua during the end of the Contra War in the 1980s. I lived and traveled in Ecuador for several months and spent a summer in Japan, living in a traditional magariya and photographing rural life. I returned from these trips with photographs documenting religious festivals, agricultural practices, textile workers, rural crafts and traditions, villages and markets, portraits of kids, the elderly, families living in challenging situations, people who lived close to the land. I tried to capture the inherent humanity of the people and cultures I encountered, photographing with respect and by tacit permission from the people I came to know personally.

For the past ten years, I’ve traveled around the US and Canada, always car-camping, photographing landscapes, living close to the land and the subject of my work. I like to observe the world, it’s detail, it’s vast spaces. I like to travel alone, explore the world spontaneously, without plan, to see where the road takes me. Traveling and photographing in this way becomes a meditation, an inner dialogue, and a visual focus.