A Bit of History

I was born Ellen Babinec and grew up in Little Falls, New York, a small upstate town. I lived in there until eighteen and by then was sufficiently restless to be on the move for the next fourteen years. By the time I ended up at my current home in Schenectady, New York, I had attended seven colleges, earned three degrees, and lived in thirty places, including rural Virginia, Boston, New York City, and Oxford, England. (My husband, who lived in twenty-six of them with me, kept a list of them all). We finally settled down (sort of) in Schenectady with three children. They are now creative, competent, young adults living on their own, freeing us up to travel again – which we do often.


I find that all of my experiences (teacher, parent, perpetual student, writer, and photographer) combine to fuel my passion for creating media for kids, their issues, and their education.


From Picture Story to Multimedia

Writing was something I had always been interested in, writing endless pages of stories, poems, plays, letters, and journals from grade school on, so going to college as an English major was an easy decision. Later, I followed another powerful interest in children and teaching so changed my major to education, then taught for five years.


I had gotten involved in photography in the seventies. My husband bought a camera and insisted, after all we’d paid for it, that I learn how to use it, too. I was intimidated at first (it was SO not a digital point-and-shoot!) but soon became hooked. I now own many cameras, still and video, all of which intimidate him.


I quit teaching when I realized how susceptible I was to photography disease and went to graduate school for educational media and technology. My favorite part was creating multi-image slide shows synched with music – an expensive (because of film processing costs) and insanely time-consuming version of today’s multimedia videos.


From the beginning, my photography style has been photo-documentary in style, and I am allergic to the posed, self-conscious look of both studio and gallery photography.


In 1987, I began writing for children and actively photographing them, as well. My articles and photoessays were first published in magazines and my first book proposal, Brothers and Sisters, was accepted by Scholastic in 1992.


Through the years, I gathered so many photographs while creating books that it made sense to get involved in stock photography. As photography exploded with digital possibilities, I jumped into video and multimedia, as it allowed me to merge my love of music into my work with words and visuals. In 2010, my son, Steven Senisi, and I partnered to create Senisi Multimedia. We then moved on the create a K-5 life science program with a rainforest theme called Rainforest Journey that uses high-quality nonfiction text paired with rich media to teach life science concepts.


It’s exciting to be working right as the definition of author is changing! This is not just about writing books anymore, it’s about authoring a variety of media, including print books, to increase engagement and involvement through interactivity.


As different as all this media seems to be, it really isn’t. All my work begins with a concept that needs to come alive creatively. And all my work focuses on the most lively, emotional, and genuine people I know: kids.