William Ellis and the OneLP Project at Haarlem Vinyl Festival

Written by | Behind The Lens, News

From September 29 to October 1, 2023, vinyl enthusiasts, artists, collectors, and music professionals will unite in Haarlem, The Netherlands for the world’s first vinyl festival. Anticipating a minimum of 15,000 visitors, the Haarlem Vinyl Festival promises a vibrant celebration of vinyl records, art, live music, and engaging discussions.

As part of the festival, on the 30th of September, renowned jazz photographer William Ellis will give a presentation and Q&A session as well as hosting an exhibition featuring a collection of the best images from this unique global project “OneLP”. In our “Behind The Lens” series in the Spring edition of the Jazz In Europe magazine, we featured this project, highlighting its captivating exploration of the profound connection musicians have with a single record that encapsulates their love for music. You can read this article here.

William Ellis, an internationally acclaimed music photographer, partnered with Tim Wall, a respected professor of popular music studies, to initiate the OneLP project. They posed a thought-provoking question to musicians and tastemakers across jazz, soul, and reggae genres: “If you had to choose just one record that captured your love of music, what would it be?”

The project unfolds through a series of themed exhibitions: One LP, One 45, and One Love. These exhibitions feature William’s evocative photographs, accompanied by interviews with musicians. Through this decade-long endeavor, they delve into the transformative role that pivotal records play in the lives of artists.

Vinyl records continue to hold a central place in jazz, soul, and reggae music cultures. William’s photographs and interviews shed light on how these artists are both creators and fervent music fans. The OneLP project invites us to reflect on our own relationship with music and how photography can reimagine this connection. William’s photographic journey into the artists’ souls revolves around the album or single they select to discuss their musical journey—past, present, and future. The result is a collection of captivating narratives and images that provide a unique glimpse into the essence of each artist.

William Ellis’s extensive body of work in jazz photography garnered attention, particularly with an iconic photograph of Miles Davis in 1989. He shared the intriguing story of capturing this legendary shot and how it propelled him into the realm of jazz photography. William explained “My big break was photographing Miles Davis in Manchester in 1989. I was working in the photographic industry while at the same time freelancing in music photography. When I found out that Miles was coming to the UK, I tried all my contacts to get accreditation – newspapers, magazines, TV but of course, their staff photographers all wanted any available photo passes to shoot Miles.

“Eventually I managed to track down the promoter. I really don’t remember how, there was no internet then of course. I called him and I pretty much begged for a pass and eventually he agreed and left a pass at the box office. Hand written on it was permission to shoot for the first three pieces. I turned up covered in Nikons, my Hasselblad and enough film to shoot “Gone with the Wind”.

“So there I am, five feet away from a genius. Miles did his trick of walking to the edge of the stage when he saw the photographer using a long lens. That made it almost impossible to switch to a wide and get the close up while he was right in front of you. I think he had a lot fun doing that, and why not? There were two photographs that really stood out for me that night – I could almost hear the light hitting the film.”


The origins of the OneLP project trace back to William’s conversations with musicians mostly backstage after their performances. The intention was to craft a platform that allowed musicians to have a distinct voice and share their deep-rooted passion for a specific record. William went on to say “I had spent a lot of time speaking with musicians, usually in the bar after a gig. More often than not, music is the subject. I have always sought to make pictures that were truly my own and the portrait to me is by definition the most unique and intimate encounter. But, I wanted to do something that was original and a step beyond that, something that gave the musician a voice.

“It had to be a portrait and there had to be a narrative of the musician’s thoughts. I didn’t want it to be a conventional journalistic series – a photograph with an interview that covered a number of subjects. I wanted something that would be sharp and to the point and “OneLP” was the format I devised.”

At the Haarlem Vinyl Festival, scheduled for the 30th of September, William Ellis will present the OneLP project, engaging the audience with an informative session and a Q&A. Additionally, an exhibition featuring the best images from this global project will be on display, offering festival-goers a unique perspective into the intersection of music, artists, and their chosen records.

The Haarlem Vinyl Festival is not just a celebration of music on vinyl; it’s an exploration of how music resonates with artists and aficionados alike. The OneLP project is a significant part of this celebration, offering a deeper understanding of the powerful influence that one record can have on an artist’s musical journey.

More information on the Haarlem Vinyl Festival and the full program can be found here on their website.

Last modified: September 19, 2023