Photo series celebrates hardbound children’s books

The feel of the pages. The colorful illustrations at beginning and end. Observing that many children read books on e-readers, Ellen Cantor became nostalgic for her favorite hard copy volumes from childhood. Using a mixture of her own books, her mother’s, and her friends’, Cantor created a photo series that honors the loved and worn hardbound books. She made her images in camera (not Photoshop) with a Nikon D800 on a tripod with one on-camera flash and one soft box, she explains, using a tabletop setup with black velvet background.

“I had to photograph very quickly and keep the image registration correct,” she says. All of the books she photographed were editions from before 1950, so many of them had lovely endpapers. “I start by photographing the endpapers and then quickly reopen the book with the pages splayed and take a second shot,” she says of her process. “The need to be quick and accurate is essential.”