‘It was a more open time all round, and heroes like Barry Sheene were touchable, human, and keen to interact with everyone’
Nick Elliott on the 1970s
The 1970s was a definitive decade socially, culturally and politically. By Nick Elliott’s own admission, it was a great time of exploration and experimentation. Having been an avid motor-sport fanatic in his youth, Nick was in dreamland when top end magazines such as Motorcycle News and Motorcycle Racing commissioned him to capture the action on race days.
A passion for racing has resonated within Nick since childhood, and he and brother Gary frequently raced motorbikes and cars throughout the UK during their adolescence. Some of the Peterborough photographer’s earliest and fondest memories involve off-road biking with friends and family. A devil-may-care attitude, and propensity for risk taking quickly evolved, and this is clearly reflected in Nick’s exceptional and unique brand of photography.
Nick often fondly recalls memories of iconic venues such as Silverstone and Donington Park in the 1970s when legends such as Barry Sheene and Giacomo Agostini graced the track. Such superstars burned the candle at both ends, and Nick enjoyed rubbing shoulders with these larger than life characters before and after their sensational performances. The champagne flowed – along with the incredible tales of past glories – in the race course bars where Nick became privy to the personal strife and struggles of the world famous stars of motor racing.
Nick Elliott was present for Barry Sheene’s sensational World Championship victories in 1976 and 1977. He also fondly remembers the indefatigable Englishman’s clashes with Kenny Roberts in the 1979 Grand Prix at Silverstone. These profound experiences have left a massive impression upon Nick, fashioning him onto the distinctive lens-man he is today.
‘photography is, was and will always be an art to me’
Acclaimed throughout the world for his iconic rock images, Nick Elliott has established himself as one of the most talented and avant-garde photographers in the business. Persistence, passion and a never say die attitude have driven his continuous quest for ne plus ultra. Yet despite achieving tremendous success – as well as frequently entering the orbits of the illustrious and the influential – Nick remains fiercely proud of his roots.
Gordon Flanders Elliott (Nick’s father) was the defining influence on his path to becoming a professional lensman. A projectionist at the local cinema, Gordon instilled a deep appreciation of the art of photography in his son. As a child of the pre-digital age, Nick’s earliest memories are of capturing idyllic moments on his Dad’s Brownie camera. These were magical times, when spectral steam trains, romantic rustic vistas, and enchanting English villages would mysteriously materialise within the clandestine chemical-scented confines of Gordon’s darkroom. Halcyon days indeed, Nick savoured family holidays along the alluring Norfolk coastline during the 1960s. Those care-free summer-time sojourns would later inspire his critically celebrated project: Ice Cream & Sun Cream.
An inspirational school teacher so often intervenes in the formative years of the outstanding, and Nick cites Tim Raynor as being instrumental in cementing his decision to pursue photography as a career. A visionary, Raynor appreciated and understood the value of offering opportunity to students. His bold decision to provide photography classes at Stanground Comprehensive School (now Stanground Academy) allowed Nick to hone his skills and contribute to the school magazine. Suddenly the immense power of the captured image became apparent, and Mr Elliott would soon progress to the employment of the Peterborough Evening Telegraph and the Peterborough Advertiser.
After courageously embarking on a freelance career, Nick was catapulted into the tumultuous world of motor-sport, serving commissions for prestigious titles such as Auto Car and Car Magazine. It was during this period that the formidable figure of Barry Sheene entered his life and would leave a long-lasting impression.
Nick fondly recalls how the racing legend trained close to Peterborough and was a larger-than-life character. Sheene would endure a horrific crash in 1975 at the Daytona 200, but Nick proudly captured his sensational victories at the 500cc Grand Prix in 1976 and 1977. The motorcycle legend’s phenomenal desire to win against overwhelming odds, coupled with his propensity to overcome career-threatening injuries, left an abiding influence.
Over a three year period from 2014 to 2016, Nick embarked on a ground-breaking project to recapture the innocence and magic of his formative years. Published in May 2017, and aptly entitled Ice Cream & Sun Cream, it was subsequently shortlisted in the prestigious Vienna Photo Book Festival. It was both an emotional and highly cathartic experience as he sought to recreate his childhood holiday experiences along the Norfolk coastline. Find out more about this seminal production on Nick’s website at: Nick Elliott Press Office.
Nick Elliott is available for commercial photo-shoots and special events. His website is: www.nickelliott.photography and phone number: 07881 650883
The author of the article is David Fox, a professional entertainer and freelance writer based in the UK. His website is: www.magician-midlands.co.uk and phone number: 07946 686258.
Nick benefited from an exceptional school teacher. At present, funding for the arts is being cut around the country. Please visit this site to stop school funding cuts: www.change.org