A warm welcome to former press and celebrity photographer Larry Ellis as a judge for this year’s IWPOY.
Press Photographer Larry Ellis was born in East London in 1931. Like many who were eager to join the rank and file of Fleet Street, he started at the bottom – as a messenger boy for Central Press Photos – before quickly progressing to darkrooms and assignment work.
In 1951 he joined the Press Association and was taken on by the Daily Express, soon working his way up to be their official Show Business Photographer. In fact Larry performed a dual role he’d shoot celebrities for the Daily Express during the week and would switch to sports coverage over the weekend for the Sunday Express – predominantly football, rugby, golf and cricket.
Larry, now retired lives on the Isle of Wight and can still talk the hind legs off of a donkey. In fairness to the Donkey Sanctuary we will keep that location under wraps – his favourite phrase is “to cut a long story short…” but he never does!
During the 1960’s and 70’s Larry toured with the Beatles and Rolling Stones and photographed many pop sensations including: the Osmond’s and the Jackson Five. At that time he worked on the sets of the James Bond and Carry On
Movies. The latter comedy adventures leading to a recent photographic exhibition at Dimbola Lodge Photographic Museum and Galleries on the Isle of Wight.
Larry has travelled the world shooting the biggest names on both the small and the silver screen including Sophia Loren, Richard Burton, Cary Grant, David Niven and Peter Sellers to name a few.
However, Larry’s career has not always been in the company of stars, politicians and royals, there were encounters with famous people from a very different walk of life. He attended the same school as the Kray Twins and recounts – he never dreamed that in his chosen career he would be photographing them, (and as often in that era) was mistakenly viewed as being one of their associates!
Perhaps one of the less celebrated Fleet Street celebrity snappers of the era, Ellis’s work captures perfectly a period when stars and those capturing them on film mixed freely and easily and where there was mutual trust and respect. Needless to say, a far cry from today’s celebrity obsessed media where invasion of privacy appears to be routine or the depiction of our celebrities at work, rest and play is heavily stage managed.
Larry is currently working on his library of photographic material and hopes to put together a coffee table book. As a photographer he is still in demand and when duty calls from the various news agencies he is off like a shot to get those all important images.
For this we are very grateful and thank him in advance for his contribution to the IWPOY 2009.