FRANK CANCIAN  |  Documentary and Art Photography  |  Irvine, CA USA

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I like to take pictures where people do their regular activities—in homes, workplaces and temples. It's best when people know me and know that I am there to take pictures, or when a person they know vouches for me or blesses my project. In these settings people usually get bored with me after an hour or two, and go back to their own activities. Public places, where people who are involved in their own activities usually ignore me, are also good.


I am a documentary photographer with a point of view. I prefer ordinary things—things that are not officially important. While recording the everyday world I often look for the exotic in ordinary situations and for the ordinary in what many people see as exotic. I hope you will find this in some of my photos and enjoy it.


     My passion for photography began as a teenager in the late 1940s. In the intervening years my work as a sociocultural anthropology professor has often taken over for months, sometimes years, at a time. I've done five big projects, and several smaller ones. The Orange County Housecleaners, the Zinacantan (Another Place) and the Lacedonia pictures here are from big projects; the Volleyball/Dance and the While Waiting pictures are from smaller ones. As the Favorite Photos here show, in recent years I've added some abstract photos and some landscapes of built places to the mix.


Frank Cancian

November 2008





While Waiting (30 photos)

Orange County Housecleaners (10 photos)

Irvine Fine Arts Center, 2007


Orange County Housecleaners (15 Photos)

La Casa del Libro, San Francisco, 2006


Another Place: Photographs of a Maya Community (81 photos)

Dartmouth College, 1984

Stanford University Student Union Gallery, 1974


Southern Italian Hill Town (about 60 photos)

Rhode Island School of Design Museum of Art, 1958

Wesleyan University Art Gallery, 1958





2006 / Orange County Housecleaners (photos and first-person life histories)

Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press


1981 / Zinacantan, Mexico, pp. 80-85 (photos and text) in Exploring Society

Photographically, Howard Becker, ed. Evanston: Mary and Leigh Block Gallery,

Northwestern University (distributed by the University of Chicago Press)


1974 / Another Place: Photographs of a Maya Community, San Francisco,

The Scrimshaw Press (photos of Zinacantan, Chiapas, Mexico)


1958 / Lacedonia, A Photographic Essay. Cover and pp. 6-12.

The Rhode Islander, Providence Sunday Journal, 4/27/58

(Photos of Lacedonia, Avellino, Italy)


Virtually every year since the late 1960s: A few to dozens of photos of

Zinacantan published in works (books, monographs, and articles) by others.



Photo: Kristy Harris