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©Ellen Cantor, Nancy Drew

Prior Pleasures

Every man’s memory is his private literature.”  Aldous Huxley


©Ellen Cantor,  Black Beauty


©Ellen Cantor,  Alice in Wonderland

My images are conceived in memory. By photographing and re-contextualizing precious mementos, I have sought to understand how life proceeds and then, ultimately, disappears. I document the artifacts of the past in order to enrich my present.

Rediscovering the books of my childhood has led me to realize the power and value of the hands-on experience of reading and reminds us that books can excite and enrich our lives.


 In Prior Pleasures, each photograph of a vintage book is taken using a multiple exposure technique. Incorporating the end pages, illustrations, and text allows old favorites to come alive for a new generation of readers.


©Ellen Cantor,  Raggedy Andy


©Ellen Cantor,  Heidi

The books photographed for this series are the ones I have carried with me since childhood. My Mother read them to me and, in turn, I read them to my children, carrying on a tradition of the written and spoken word.

Prior Pleasures explores the myth of the photographic truth and inspired me to create a new way of looking at childhood icons.


©Ellen Cantor,  Little Women

In an age when technology is slowly replacing the tactile experience of reading a book, my work recalls and celebrates the joy of losing oneself within the pages of a favorite childhood tale.

I hope that my photographs offer answers to a basic question—“What does our past mean to us--as individuals, as families, and as a community?”

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