Trailing Spring © Ellen Jantzen
Trailing Spring © Ellen Jantzen

Would you please tell us a little about yourself?

I was born and raised in St. Louis Missouri but moved to Illinois after meeting my husband, Michael at Southern Illinois University. My early college years were spent obtaining a degree in graphic arts; later emphasizing fine art. After a move to California, I spent two years at FIDM (the Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising) in downtown Los Angeles where I obtained an advanced degree in Fashion Design in 1992. After a few years working in the industry, including several years at Mattel Toy Company as a senior project designer, I became disillusioned with the corporate world and longed for a more creative outlet.

How did you get started photography?

As I was looking for a creative outlet, (having been trained in computer design while at Mattel)I continued on my own using mostly Photoshop software.

Which photographers and other artist work do admire?

The main artist’s work that I admire is my husband’s (Michael Jantzen). I most admire his innovative spirit in whatever medium he is using (including photography).

One of the first photographer’s work I admired greatly was Robert Parke Harrison and some of Jerry Uelsmann’s work is quite to my liking.

© Ellen Jantzen
© Ellen Jantzen
Whetting the Waters © Ellen Jantzen
Whetting the Waters © Ellen Jantzen
Niche © Ellen Jantzen
Niche © Ellen Jantzen

And what about their work inspires you?

An innovative spirit always inspires me. Being unafraid to take chances is another.

When did you start to develop a personal style?

I started developing a personal style long before I began photography. I would say that my early fashion designs started me on my current path; a mix of observation and conceptualization that lead to a desire for unusual juxtapositions.

If no one saw your work, would you still create it?

Oh, yes … most definitely. But I do have a strong feeling that visual art is not complete until observed.

Please tell us about your process and what the perfect day of photography is for you.

I do not consider my self a “photographer” in the sense that don’t have a solid background in the technical side of using a camera. To me, the camera is a delivery device … a means to get information into my computer where I can then create my work. My creative process is a bit of a back and forth. Normally I have a very loose concept and shoot some images. Once back at my computer I start working on the pieces and a solid direction becomes to come into focus. I then shoot some more with a more intentioned “eye”. Back again to the computer where my concept really gets solidified. Once I have created what I would consider a “series”, I start the daunting task of editing to choose which images are worthy of including. I then title these.

What challenges do you face as a photographer?

My main challenge is to be able to keep working. Technologies are changing so rapidly that I feel compelled to keep hardware and software current. This can be rather daunting. I need to be a financially successful in order to work!

With the rapid changes in how people make and view a photograph how do you view this time in the history of photography?

I view this time in the history of photography as very exciting and ground-breaking. The world is awash in imagery and with the Internet, distribution is almost instantaneous. This can seem daunting, I would believe, to conventional photographers, but I see it as an opportunity to share and learn.

How do you over come a creative block?

Well, the best was to thwart inertia is to keep moving. By that, I mean, I just work . . . even if I am not satisfied with the results . . . I keep working, trying new things, trying new subjects, trying to think differently. Eventually a direction comes into focus.

How does your art affect the way you see the world?

I find myself framing photos as I look out the window of a car, or while walking about. I see “scenes” all the time that I wish I had taken a photo of. I used to keep a notebook of photos missed . . . a diary of sorts, of missed opportunities written down.

Is there another type of photography or subject matter you would like tackle?

A work of art relies upon three things, the vision of the creator, the work it’s self and the viewers. Ultimately, I want to impact others by providing a framework allowing viewers space to project their own imaginings and meanings to them. My work relies on the trust people place in the medium. Photography is so often thought of as “reality” which offers me the opportunity of subverting that reality. I want to take viewers beyond the surface of an image, where something deeper and unexpected is; so I will continue to search for subject matter that will fulfill this desire.

Trailing Autumn © Ellen Jantzen
Trailing Autumn © Ellen Jantzen

Thank you Ellen for sharing your work with us.

To learn more about the work of Ellen Jantzen please visit her site, Ellen Jantzen.