Stories from behind the lens

Ducking and weaving through the grounds, the photographers of Port Eliot get a wholly different perspective on the Cornish festival. Here, the brilliant Louise Roberts who heads up the photography team has picked out her favourite images and regales us with the story behind each of them. Over to Louise…

Zandra Rhodes

What’s not to love about photographing Zandra Rhodes? In 2017 there was a fabulous new venue called the Art School which was a collaboration between Cathy St Germans and Sarah Mower. It was so brilliant to shoot but it also gave everyone the opportunity of drawing and connecting with some amazing people. Zandra had been modelling for them to all draw and then after she spent time with everyone going over their sketches and doing a little critique. The woman with her in this shot was overjoyed by the experience. Where else would you get the chance to experience that? It’s why I love Port Eliot so much.


You may all remember 2017 as the year that broke Port Eliot history of never having had a wet festival! Two days of solid rain that at time was so biblical you wondered where it had come from. On the Sunday, the the rain had cleared and the sun came out with such a vengeance that all of a sudden it felt like you were in a completely different place.

We ran back and forth the length and breadth of the site multiple times grabbing every possible shot. I was down by the Black Cow Saloon and happened upon the Aerial Yoga which was new that year. What a sight it was after all that rain and mud! I love all the photos I took –  they just had such a lovely feeling to them – such calm after the storm!


I love this image … firstly because The Church at Port Eliot is such a beautiful venue. I knew of Karen Elson (she was married to Jack White) but hadn’t really heard her music. I was literally blown away by her performance. I don’t usually stay for longer than necessary during a set as our shoot schedule is pretty full on, but I actually ended up staying for the whole set. It was one of the most magical performances I have ever photographed.

I have chosen this particular image because there were three cheeky young boys who were obviously very taken with Karen and were trying to grab her attention (I think there was an offer of a date in there somewhere!). By the end of the performance she was also quite taken with them. This is her responding to them!



Every time I look at this image it transports me back to Port Eliot. It was taken at the Oyster Shack and I love that everyone is just one big happy family hanging out, enjoying the environment, the amazing food and the sunshine. All the little details in the image like the chefs at the back laughing and the responses to the baby being held up. One of the celebrity chefs featured that year, Daniel de la Falaise, is also in the shot with his baby, stood by the bar. It’s a lovely ensemble piece!


Anyone whose been to Port Eliot will know that Mossy Crow is part of the furniture… a group of amazingly creative people who create immersive theatre. I picked this image particularly because of the boy’s wonderful spirit … there is just a feeling of such joy and that is just so Port Eliot!


Sometimes there is a moment when you actually have time to stop and think what a great job you have. This was one of them. Port Eliot 2018, Thursday afternoon and I had been booked onto the Bounty for a little river boat trip. Not only was that a perfect way to kick of your working weekend, but also because it was the actual Bounty that was build for the Channel 4 series. I took this shot as I arrived and just love how it depicts the feeling of the estuary perfectly.

Teri Hatcher ON A Paddleboard

I knew that Teri Hatcher was at Port Eliot and am a huge fan; I loved her in Desperate Housewives. This was a bonus shot though. Whilst aboard the bounty for my little river trip, Teri decided to head off for a paddle board. Luckily I had taken my 70-200 zoom lens with me so was able to shoot some lovely images of her as she was pulling back into the river bank.


Another amazingly beautiful experience that only Port Eliot can provide you. To see this choir perform in The Church was such a unique experience. The acoustics are pitch perfect and so you can imagine how incredible this was to listen to. I also love the sense of culture here. Port Eliot is such a diverse festival: it has this amazing ability to really mix it up, and it just works. Take the London African Gospel Choir, add to a 12th century Church which is part of the ancestral seat of the Eliot family and you get another piece of Port Eliot magic!

The House

Port Eliot isn’t the only festival created on an ancestral estate. But I do believe it’s quite unique in the way the house participates in the festival. Not only are various rooms used – like the Round Room and the Big Kitchen – but it really helps create the most wonderful atmosphere, whether that’s someone sitting quietly and gazing upon the house, the sunset falling over it or when illuminated at night. You never feel like an imposter or an outsider, the house always welcomes you!


The Big Kitchen is a great venue in the house and a beautiful one to shoot in. I love this image of Miss Foodwise as it just all seems to come together… the colours, atmosphere and her great style …perfect!

Stephen Jones

I love this portrait. Stephen Jones is such an inspiration and I really loved how his hat worked with the backdrop to the fashion stage that year.

Roarsome FOURSOME at the Compost Loos

My brief was to get an image of someone coming out the compost loos. As I was heading down to see if I could find a willing model I came across these likely lions and hey presto! After a little persuading and a 10 minute walk to go less than 50 metres (they were very popular at Port Eliot) I nailed my shot!