Artist Blog

Every week an artist whose single image was published by Der Greif is given a platform in which to blog about contemporary photography.

An unconventional path

Jun 03, 2018 - Ellen Bahr

Greetings. I’m happy to be with you as this week’s guest blogger! In this opening post, I’d like to introduce myself and share some work in progress.


I have taken a somewhat unconventional path to photography. I don’t have a formal background (degree) in fine art, nor am I entirely self-taught. Over the last 30 years, I have practiced photography on and off, beginning with classes at the International Center of Photography in New York City in the 1990’s. The past five years have been a period of concentrated effort, as I strive to maintain an active art practice alongside my work as an academic librarian at Alfred University.


Alfred University is located in the Village of Alfred, in western New York. It’s a small and somewhat remote community, and an unlikely place for an important art school. My posts this week will focus on the artists that I have come to know here in Alfred and their influence on my work. I have had the opportunity to work with some amazing photographers, including Lydia McCarthy, Scott Alario, Jennifer Niederhauser-Schlup, and Whitney Hubbs. I have also found a surprising affinity with the work of abstract painters in Alfred, including Stephanie McMahon and Patrick Brennan. Beyond Alfred, the work of Barbara Kasten and Erin O’Keefe has been a particular inspiration.



After returning to school for a master’s degree in library science, I took a break from photography for a while so that I could concentrate my career as a librarian. When I began to think about photography again, the landscape had drastically changed. I discovered the joy of the ubiquitous, pre-iPhone, compact digital camera and started a daily photo project, focusing mainly on my immediate environment, often on my walk to and from work. I enrolled in a course in digital photography and began to immerse myself this new medium.


In 2014, I had the opportunity to be an artist in residence at the Cité Internationale des Arts in Paris. The concentrated time led to my first experiments with working in a studio. I made images, such as the one below, that served as studies for much of the studio work that I have completed since then.


The first two images above are part of work in progress, using a large format film camera. After making the transition to digital, I am again enjoying the slower pace that film provides.