top of page
Ellen with camera on boat

Spreading Hope and Beauty Through Photography

When Ellen was small, she devoured James Herriot’s stories of life as a veterinarian and then became one herself, captivated by “all creatures great and small.” With camera in hand, she cast attention, affection, and a sense of humor on her many subjects -- a wide-eyed cat, the delicacy of a butterfly’s perch, the glassy stare of a watchful reptile, a neon green chameleon (and patient) named Pickles.

Although she called Philadelphia home, she was happiest outdoors, riding horses, skiing, or hiking with her beloved mutt, Jake. Energized by nature’s glorious expanses and beckoned by cloud-shrouded peaks, shifting skies over a sleepy fishing village, and the peaceful drapery of snow over graceful hillsides, she was relentless in pursuit of a shot. “I chased this moon around town until I found it perched on the San Juan range,” she wrote of one photo.

Ellen spent the last years of her life seeking and catching these images as if she might hold the passing time just as still. She was too smart and too grounded to suffer any delusions about her illness and her prognosis, so to look at her photographs is to share the perspective of someone contemplating, with full appreciation, the beauty of this world and its evanescence.

Her last wish was one she made clear. She wanted her photographs to bring vibrancy into the often sterile treatment rooms where she had spent many hours receiving chemotherapy. Ellen gave her photos a purpose that would outlive her, and this photography competition is dedicated to that selfless mission.

This competition welcomes photographers who share Ellen’s appreciation for the natural world and who find inspiration in knowing their photograph might one day grace the wall of a cancer hospital as a messenger of Ellen’s wish "to bring hope and beauty to those facing cancer."


Ellen was not only an incredible photographer, but also an advocate. Her photographs hang in clinic rooms throughout Penn Medicine and bring hope to patients and their families. Her work is a powerful reminder of the beauty that is all around us.

Mark Morgan, MD

bottom of page