Tom Talks Event Photography

May 12, 2022
Originally posted on

Who’s that tall guy with the camera? 

Tom Elvers has been serving your drinks and bussing your empties at The Good Will for a while now, and as we ramp up our online content, he’s become a main player on our creative team as well. 

A self-taught photographer, Tom started off filming skate videos with his dad’s camcorder and taking pictures with his canon SLR. Over the years, he built a graveyard of shitty cameras until he splurged on a Canon T3I and formed Exchange Media with his buddy, Chris Friesen. His resume also includes being co-founder of Innervision, collaborating with a slew of local music and video folks, and working for some of the hottest arts orgs in the city. 

From festivals to punk shows to boxing cards to night clubs—whether he’s paid to be there or not—Tom will likely show up with a camera on his hip. In fact, he’s been digitally documenting the tender and trashy moments from Winnipeg’s arts and culture scene for over a decade.

This begs the question: why?

Close up of a person performing on an outdoor stage at night.

Tom: “Everyone always asks me where is this going, where are these photos going…I might not even look at the pictures.”  

GW: And you’ve always been drawn to event photography? 

Tom: “I just found that when you're learning to take pictures…you learn that some images are more challenging to capture. With people, what I found, was that those are the images I ended up shooting that excited me more.”

Three people standing in a costume tent. They are wearing eclectic costumes.More clothes are hung on the walls of the tent.

“If it’s busy here, I might just get a few photos, so I got pretty good at shooting mayhem. I can shoot studio, but that’s not really my strength. It’s more shooting when shit’s crazy.” 

GW: Do you have any influences? 

Tom: "I would say Chris [Friesen]. He shot film, he was always the film guy. When I just got my camera, we started Exchange Media. We saw that there were so many good bands in the city but nobody had any good, consistent coverage of any of their things; so, our goal was to get more into the video realm. When it came to photography, he kept me grounded in a lot of the things: how I was shooting and what I was shooting."

A building on fire at night. People gather on the other side of the street to watch the blaze. Emergency vehicles are parked on the street.

“And John Schledwitz. He’s around here every once in a while. I always really liked his style. He just doesn’t give a shit. He doesn’t give a shit at all.” 

A person poses with their tongue out in front of a sign that says "#LetsBuild"

“Another guy who helped me a lot and pushed me is Jim Agapito. He was just trying to muscle his way in, get grants, get funding—he didn’t know what he was doing but he knew what he wanted to make.”

A music tent at night. It is pitch black except for the tent that is glowing with purple light.
Musician Rich Aucoin, inside The Good Will, dancing under a rainbow parachute with a bunch of people.
“You don’t have to get on your knees for everyone. If you wanna make stuff, you can just make it. You can make stuff before you know what you’re doing.” 
A black and white photo of two people kissing on stage. One person is wearing nothing but briefs.
Black and white photo of a person singing at a venue. Audience members watch from behind the singer.

GW: What was it like working as the Wall to Wall video coordinator during the festival’s early days?

Tom: “When it first started, Chloe [Chafe] just asked me, like, 'we only have this much money but whatever you can make for this'…And I had no idea what [Wall to Wall] was, but I was just like yeah sure, you guys are cool. And I figured out what it was, but even then it was the first year of doing it…people knew about these parties for these murals, but it was getting them to understand that it was all one thing.”

“The music is Crabskull—we share a studio.” 

Two people sitting a picnic table under a festival tent. There is a Jonnies Sticky Buns truck in the background, take-out containers and a plastic jug of water on the table.
Two people standing outside of The Handsome Daughter.

“The other cool thing about this Wall to Wall stuff is that you can see the progression of people growing up. Even 3Peat, for example. I have photos of them back when they had a studio at 333 Garry Street.”

GW: You seem to have an interest in capturing time passing. 

Tom: “Yeah, I guess that’s more of an afterthought. I always thought the photos I was shooting at the time weren’t interesting enough for me to do a show of. I guess I feel like when I'm shooting it and editing it, it’s like oh yeah, that’s last week. That’s just that. But then when you look at it 5 or 10 years later…I’m just glad I’m behind the camera, so you can’t see me get old.” 

Amos standing in field. He wears a green festival admission bracelet on his wrist.

So, what’s next for Tom Elvers Photography? 

Tom plans to rebrand and up his social media presence, but mainly he wants to show off his stuff in more meaningful ways. Think: a real-deal photo show exhibiting all the candid and chaotic memories from last decade’s club scene. Music, merch, the whole shebang. 

Of course, he’ll be around The Good Will, too, snapping shots to make our Insta look pretty and lending his creative eye to a bunch of cool content we’re cooking up for you. 

Check out our photo albums to see more of Tom’s work.

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