I wrote an entry for this blog a few months ago to commemorate the anniversary of Elvis Presley’s death ‘Elvis from the Beginning’. The photographer; Albert Wertheimer, whose pictures I wrote about, is now showing a selection of his photographs of Elvis from the same period at an exhibition at Proud Chelsea in London.
One of the many auspicious things about these photographs is that they have never been shown in this way in the UK before. Another is that the new Proud gallery chose to open with this exhibition, which to me, re-affirms Presley’s legend.
These candid shots of Elvis were taken during a time before the Colonel Tom Parker, his manager, put restrictions on the photography of his charge. Later, only approved and carefully managed publicity shots of Presley were made available for publication – leading the way for the management of today’s celebrities who constantly control the image of their stars.
These photos show that Elvis did not begin his career as the product of a svengali, revealing that he had his own unique style, was charismatic beyond belief, and that his ‘act’ was not something that was cultivated, but sheer, raw talent.
In later years, Elvis was portrayed as super-human and untouchable. He was trapped in his fame rendering him unable to walk down the street – unless he was in disguise. So these shots of him as a ‘normal’ person eating in a diner, travelling on a train with the rest of the public, standing on the street outside his hotel, and intimate shots of him at home with his family are fantastic. The fact that he was so photogenic, make these shots even more enjoyable to look at.
The exhibition runs from 18th November until 31st January.
Post written by Nicola Charalambous (Picture Editor of PA Photocall)