PDA

View Full Version : Why Did Elvis Not Have An Official Concert Photographer In The 70s?



JRtherealJR
06-26-2013, 03:58 PM
This is one of the mysteries of Elvis' touring years. Nowadays virtually every performer has their own photographer, but why did someone of Elvis' stature not have his own official photographer who toured with the entourage to document the shows?

All of the best shots we have of Elvis on stage in the 70s come from 4 freelance guys who were never on the payroll of Elvis, RCA or The Colonel as far as I know. They were:

Ed Bonja
Bob Heis
Sean Shaver
Keith Alverson

Were these men just 4 super-fans who followed Elvis on tour and paid for their own tickets and travel expenses etc?

It's strange that the biggest entertainer in history did not have a photographer in his retinue.

KPM
06-26-2013, 04:20 PM
I'm not sure why-I do not recall if major groups or artists in the late 60s early 70s had official photographer.
I know if the Colonel wanted promotional photos he scheduled photo sessions for Elvis during most of his career.
When you had as many flashbulbs flashing as you saw at an Elvis concert-Parker may have thought that plenty of photos were being taken and some would end up in magazines (which translates into publicity for his artist) that he did not need to add the expense of a photographer.
The historical end of his tours was probably the last think on Parkers mind.
As far as I have ever read the 4 gentleman you mention were just great fans-they did get a more access to Elvis than regular fans and if the Colonel wanted a special new publicity photo I'm sure he could get one from one of these fans.

Raised on Rock
06-26-2013, 06:06 PM
Well Ed Bonja kind of did that job...

Here's a brief interview with him.

KPM
06-26-2013, 06:19 PM
Well Ed Bonja kind of did that job...Here's a brief interview with him.
Thanks I had a thought that one of them was some type of part time tour photographer but was not sure.
The link to his interview is missing.

JRtherealJR
06-26-2013, 09:13 PM
Thanks for the replies- great information.



As far as I have ever read the 4 gentleman you mention were just great fans-they did get a more access to Elvis than regular fans

Yes, it seems they did get better treatment than a lot of the regular fans. Here is a pic of photographer Sean Shaver with EP:
http://i39.tinypic.com/f9h3pt.jpg

And I vaguely remember Sean being mentioned in the UK fan club video "Return To Splendour" when he was shown boarding one of Elvis' planes with his cameras.

Ed Bonja was the best photographer for Vegas shots of Elvis- maybe he had a special arrangement with the Hilton because some of his pics of Elvis in Vegas are really stunning.

This one courtesy of Mr. Bonja has always been a favourite of mine:
http://i44.tinypic.com/2yxqkj8.jpg

Lisarose
06-27-2013, 06:17 AM
good question! RCA hired Alfred Wertheimer to follow Elvis on stage - too bad he wasn't hired on again for at least one tour or Vegas engagement. Japanese photographer Yoshiji Kazaki has published some fabulous photos of Elvis when he performed in Hawaii

hounddog
06-27-2013, 08:31 AM
i agree The Day Elvis Came Closest To Japan is a great book as is as is the book put out by the Japanese fan club This is Elvis covering Elvi's 72/73 Hawaiian shows. Ed Bonja states he was Elvis official photographer and tour manager during 1970-1977.

There is a great book Elvis by Dagmar covering Elvis 1970 tour and we do have books by Tunzi and Paul Lichter that cover specific shows and tours. Also Ger Rijffs books are pretty awesome.

Winston
06-27-2013, 09:06 AM
I'am a great fan of the publicity shots of the 60's on the albums from that time. Why are there no shots like that on the albums of the 70s. Do someone know the reason why there are only live-shots. Don't say this was cheaper.

jak
06-27-2013, 11:42 AM
Im guessing there was no way Elvis was going to pose for publicity shots in the 70's. I seriously doubt Elvis had any idea what his lp covers even looked like before they were released.Unfortunatley Elvis just wasnt involved in his career to that extent.

King Of The Whole World
06-27-2013, 01:51 PM
Elvis did not like the fake publicity photos anyway, he hated that you had to do a fake smile.

KPM
06-27-2013, 03:33 PM
Elvis knew that the publicity photo shots were a necessary evil in show biz but most of those shots looked so plastic.
I think the shots for the 68 special were much better and more realistic-but still had a "Hollywood look"

Brian
06-27-2013, 06:07 PM
It was probably cheaper to hire Ed Bonja to take the photos than to bring in another photographer.

Ed Bonja was Tom Diskin's nephew and he had known Colonel Parker since he was a kid.

Elvis and The Colonel could have cared less about the quality of photos taken.

Snake Eyes
06-27-2013, 06:52 PM
Im guessing there was no way Elvis was going to pose for publicity shots in the 70's. I seriously doubt Elvis had any idea what his lp covers even looked like before they were released.Unfortunatley Elvis just wasnt involved in his career to that extent.

It certainly seems that way. You only have to compare the involvement today's major stars have on album and single covers and airbrushed images they deem worthy to release.

KPM
06-27-2013, 07:46 PM
It certainly seems that way. You only have to compare the involvement today's major stars have on album and single covers and airbrushed images they deem worthy to release.
I have thought for years that major stars are into "over production" from the songs, to the musicians, to the press buildup and the albums look.
I agree Elvis should have been more involved in his projects-but some artist take a couple years or more to get an album all the way to the sales racks.....IMO overkill.