3-Year-Old’s Photos on Display in SF

The San Francisco Chronicle has a neat story about Ruby Ellenby, a 3-year-old photographer who is celebrating her first photography exhibition. 22 of her photographs are mounted as 8×10 prints on the walls of Moshi Moshi restaurant in San Francisco.

Here’s a sampling of Ruby’s work:

Ruby’s parents, Peter and Jeanne Ellenby, are both photographers specializing in music photography.

She has a personal website too, which includes a gallery of her photos. On the about page, she writes,

I’m Ruby and I’m three and a half.
My mom and dad didn’t help me take these photos. I do it all by myself.
They do let me use their cameras. I took these pictures with a Nikon Coolpix, an iPhone and a Vtech kid’s camera.
I hope you enjoy the pictures that I made for you.

If you’re in the San Francisco area, Ruby’s work will be only display through April at Moshi Moshi.

Image credits: Photographs by Ruby and Peter Ellenby and used with permission

  • Nathaniel 'flannol' Rosa

    Wow, I can't actually believe how creative she is at such a young age – in the last picture she is using the window as a mirror – very 'myspace-esque' – but it shows that she is actually thinking about her compositions… truly unbelievable!

  • Jörg

    Hm, can't find anything much creative about this. A 3-year-old playing with a camera making random snaps. Cute, but nothing special.

  • Rachael Hulme

    This is such proof that it is never too early to allow a child to explore their developing vision through art. Wish I lived anywhere remotely near SF so I could check out her exhibit! (South Florida's a little far :) Great article!

  • johua


  • Snoerke

    At this moment I don't see why this is worth an exhibition. Maybe it could be interpreted as art, but to me it's just a kid playing with a camera.

  • Name

    Exactly; it's not. Give the space instead to someone who has worked for it. I'm sure there are plenty of local photographers who deserve and could use the exposure.

  • Heather Marie

    Or, you know, she's seen her parents do it and she is merely imitating that.

    It's awesome that they are giving her that freedom and exposure to photography at such a young age, yes. That will definitely give her the practice and experience to grow and improve. However, I don't think her photos are anything deserving of an exhibit at this time.

  • Peter Ellenby

    She was asked by the restaurant to display the photos so it's not like she's stealing wall space in a gallery from another photographer.
    It's just a fun thing and we're not taking it too seriously so calm down everybody.
    If you enjoy her photos that's great, if you don't that's fine too.
    Peter (Ruby's Dad)

  • Peter Ellenby

    I take photos of myself in windows about as often as I go to mars.
    And we shoot SLRs so you can't really hold em up like that.
    That was her on her own. Trust me. I was there.

  • eddjames


  • Nathaniel 'flannol' Rosa

    May I remind you that she is THREE years old. I don't know about you, but at three I was sucking my thumb and throwing toys around the living room.. I don't know if times are changing or what, but to me, this story is phenomenal.

  • Kronos

    Not art. Cute, maybe, but just to her family and friends. She's an average kid who somehow got into the Chron. My bet is her parents know someone on the staff there.

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  • jillian2343

    Wow, your parents must've never had any type of interaction with you then. If kids see you do something, they'll do it too. This is just a kid with a camera. Hell, I gave a camera to the two year old twins I'm raising and they took pictures of each other, themselves, pets, moving cars. Believe me, their pictures are better than this, so the parents, who are both photographers, obviously have some good contacts.

  • Dogpatch

    Geez people, calm down. It's not the end of the artistic world. As stated in this article:
    the parents frequent the sushi restaurant often! Most likely, they befriended the restaurant owners. Bam!, next thing, their daughter's pictures are on the walls. You can see them while you eat your damn California Rolls. This isn't SFMoma or some Chelsea gallery. It's a sushi restaurant! Relax.
    I also might add, that this sushi restaurant is located in the Dogpatch neighborhood of S.F., a small, yet steadily growing artistic community. Like most artistic communities, I think they like to help each other out. In this case, a sushi restaurant cleverly using a 3yr old photos to drive more business and traffic to their restaurant, and parents using their daughters “artistic talent” to expose their own photographic businesses.That's nothing new. Its all about creating media spectacle now days. Get used to it.

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  • hurhur

    holy fuck, those photos suck!

  • Snoerke

    Hi Peter, thanks for your firm reaction. I guess it felt a bit hyped by the media, but maybe I would've done the same with my kid(s) – if I had any. Have fun with photography and hope your daughter grows while enjoying it all!

  • anathica

    My two-year-old son takes pictures that look about like this…

  • Alison Turner

    I think it's great.

    I think all parents should give a child tools to explore their artistic side. Everyone was handed crayons in school and a paintbrush. This is no different with a camera. It shows you that everyone has the ability to point and click and show their vision of the world.

    It's funny how photographers might feel threatened by this. There is a photographer for every camera made and anyone can go out and take pictures these days. Art is all subjective so what might not be appealing to you, could be a masterpiece to someone else.

    Next thing you know she will be getting releases for her friends parents to sign to be sold as stock photos. Lol… Go RUBY!

  • guessed

    Sure, she can take photos of feet, but I'd have to see if she could take good basic portraits and set up her own lighting before I'd consider her a photographer.

  • sausages

    I wouldn't call this an exhibition, either. Its one thing to be shown in an actual gallery, its different if its at a coffee shop or a restaurant. Dogpatch hit the nail on the head.

  • Melanie

    I think it is great to encourage art in our children… however, as a professional photographer, I am a bit offended. These days everyone with a camera is a “photographer.” It is putting people such as me out of business. The creative art of photography has been cheapened and I think that is very sad. While I do realize it is simply a display in a restaurant, it is just another example of snapshots being considered as art.

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