We have decided to launch a new intimate style of interview into TheAppWhisperer – the world’s most popular mobile photography and art website. We feel it is important that our community feel close to each other, as it is this support that helps us to nurture one another, gain confidence and continue to grow.
This is our twenty fifth interview, to read the others, please go here. Today, we are publishing this exquisitely written and fascinating interview with Adria Ellis from Colorado, United States.
All images ©Adria Ellis
What was your childhood or earliest ambition?
I think I was pretty typical in some ways, I wanted to be a dancer (not a ballerina) I also remember liking cheer leading uniforms A LOT ! As cheesy as it sounds I think the first real thing I wanted to be was a photographer. My parents had a Polaroid Camera and I would burn through all the film. I remember getting in a bit of trouble when I was about 10 for putting lipstick on the neighbour girls so I could take pictures of them.I started taking an unreasonable amount of photos on family vacations and making family albums whenI was 10 and 12.
My first recognition was in 2012 when I entered the iPhone Photography Awards. First place in Flowers, Still lives, Animals, and honorable mentions in Landscapes, Seasons, and Lifestyle. To say I was over the moon would be an understatement.
My first jobs were babysitting, and waiting tables. When I graduated photography school I was a studio manager, and did production work. Looking back this was a mistake that makes me a little sad. I didn’t quite have the real world experience and confidence to do what I really wanted to do and so I went behind the scenes.
Private or State school?
I went to a private school in Oklahoma City, and then boarding school my Senior year. I had learning disabilities and I was pretty miserable. Of the two High Schools I went to I was the only person that didn’t go straight to college. I was proud of that then and I still am.
University or Work?
I lived in Paris by myself for a year when I was 18. I attended photography classes at Parsons for the last 4 months and I traveled and took photographs. I was a bit lonely, but it was an amazing experience. I graduated from Brooks Institute of Photography in 1995. My three years at Brooks was life changing and is the reason I am who I am now.
Who was or is still is your mentor?
I feel similar to Joanne here, I haven’t ever really had a mentor. What I can say as an adult is that I admire people that have the ability to truly make changes in their lives and and I am always inspired and kind of envious by people that have a strong drive and a lot of discipline.
How physically fit are you?
From 2000 – 2015 I owned a yoga studio and taught yoga, I loved this life style of being uber healthy and strong and fit ……. until I didn’t :-P. I have been traveling now for about 5 years, I’m not maintaining my yoga practice and my body feels a bit creaky. Keeping my body happy and traveling as much as I do is one of the trickier parts of my life these days. This ageing thing is for the birds!
Ambition or talent: What matters more to success?
In my opinion its 80% ambition and 20% talent. Except when it’s not.
How politically committed are you?
I am not a very politically driven person.
What would you like to own that you don’t currently possess?
I day dream right now all the time about buying a building in Havana, Cuba !!!
What’s your biggest extravagance?
Thats easy, they’re two. EXCEPTIONAL food, economy plus seating, and an occasional first class seat on a long red eye.
In what places are you happiest?
I started spending time in Havana Cuba 4 years ago. If I could live there I would – maybe I will someday. I’m one of the few that wants to find a Cuban man to marry so I can stay in Cuba and buy that building !!! The Cuban people are the warmest, most welcoming people I have come across on this planet. When I am in Cuba I feel happy, inspired, creative, supported on every level of my being. Walking the streets and taking pictures in Havana, Cuba is my heaven.
What ambitions do you still have?
I am 40% there – I am committed to shooting in Cuba for 10 years. This summer I will start editing for the first book (five years in) and then at the end of the decade we’ll see what I got to say.
What drives you on?
I’ve never been married, and I don’t have children. Right now my love and infatuation with Cuba drives me. It’s the Cuban people, their warmth and spirit has been life changing for me.
What is the greatest achievement of your life so far?
Well, I don’t know that it has happened yet. I think my greatest achievement is that I just keep trying. I’ve had so many different things not work so well and I just keep going. I’ve had some lucky real-estate investments that allow me a lot of my freedom right now and I am grateful for that. I suppose that is an achievement, but whenI think about the success that I am striving for it always has to do with my photography.
What do you find most irritating in other people?
I think one of my best traits is that I am pretty accepting, and able to be around a lot of different kinds of people. The only thing that really pops into my head is that I don’t like to be around smokers. And as I say that I realize one of my dear friends is a smoker and I don’t really care.
If your 20 year old self could see you now, what would she think?
If my 20 year old self could see me now she would be very surprised. If someone had told me at 20 that I would not marry or have children I would have been heartbroken. I don’t know that she would understand how this life had unfolded and that it’s NOTHING like she would have ever envisioned. It’s not what I expected, but it actually works pretty well. If any of you see the 20 year old me, don’t tell her.
Which object that you’ve lost do you wish you still had?
Someone broke into my storage unit 3 years ago and stole my medium format cameras and my camping gear. I replaced the camping gear, but I never used the Mamiya’s ( RB67 and 645) any more and I just couldn’t justify replacing them. I wish I had that 645 to take to Cuba now.
What is the greatest challenge of our time?
Wow – I have no idea how to answer this. The list could be so long. I’m not sure how to articulate this, but for me it has to do with communication and compassion. I think if we could come from a place of kindness and compassion and had better abilities to communicate honestly and clearly we would be able to see and solve many problems within our families and on our planet in a healthier way.
Do you believe in an afterlife?
When I was 13 years old my Mom was driving carpool on a foggy morning and talking about how she was reminded of when she was a sailor. Devon Hyde ( 8 yr ) was immediately inquisitive about my Moms days as a sailor. This was soooo embarrassing I could hardly believe it. Now, it’s me. I was raised by a very alternative open minded kind of hippy Mom. I do believe in an after life and talk of past lives is normal in my family.
If you had to rate your satisfaction with your life so far, out of 10, what would you score?
I’m gonna say an 8, and I’m shooting for a 15 😉 Onward and upward !
Contact Details for Adria Ellis
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