MCS was informed that Mark had passed away on 14 January 2010.
The following obituary was published in The Sunday Times on 17 January 2010.
Debonair and long-serving Sunday Times photographer
Mark Ellidge, who died last Saturday, started working for The Sunday Times on June 1, 1971: his first staff assignment was to photograph the boxer Georges Carpentier. In those days photographers printed up their own film in a darkroom just off the newsroom. Almost 40 years later he was still at work for the paper, now whizzing his digital haul over to his picture editor by email from his computer. He was an early adopter of the new technology, astutely recognising how it would enhance his work. Yet somehow the old-style urbane, charming gentleman never went missing among the high-tech gadgetry.
The charm masked a steely resolve. Ellidge was the man to go to for the best images of the performing arts in action. Ballet, opera, theatre – he could capture a moment onstage in a striking composition and make it look the easiest thing to do. In reality, he would be one of a pack of photographers invited to take pictures of a new production, all at the same time. Elbows out, jostling for the choicest spot in front of the stage, the photographers at these ‘calls’ act more like their colleagues the paparazzi than most would imagine. The organisers of these scrums say they will always treasure Ellidge as the man who remained polite, yet still got the shots he wanted.
His passion for the performing arts was obvious in his images – Carlos Acosta in full flight, Judi Dench twinkling in Hay Fever, Ian McKellen raging as Lear, Count Almaviva making Susanna squeal at the Royal Opera. He has left behind a magnificent photo album of the great moments on the British stage of the past 30 years.
He was not solely a performing arts specialist. Pre-colour, he delivered monochrome portraits of the people in the news, from Richard Nixon and Arthur Scargill to Andy Warhol and Michael Winner. He caught a weary Dalai Lama at Heathrow, a zooty bowtied Maurice Saatchi at his agency’s HQ, thoughtfully posing him in front of the company’s art acquisitions, David Hockney having a teabreak alongside his lifesize portrait of his parents. Moving to colour in the 1980s, he shot a striking set of portraits of Margaret Thatcher at home, catching the wary look in her eyes that the perfect upswept hair and big pearl earrings could not distract from.
Throughout his career, Ellidge was always drawn to beautiful women and they to him, many were blonde, some were well-known names. He was rarely disappointed. His illness finally prevented him from working only a few weeks ago and, typically, the timing irked him as it meant that he had to miss Keira Knightley’s stage debut.
Mark Ellidge was married three times and leaves behind a widow, Marinka, and two daughters, Annaliese and Saffron. He will be much missed by all who worked with him.