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 Post subject: Elvis - by William Speer
PostPosted: Tue Sep 03, 2013 1:26 pm 
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I like to dedicate this work of mine to Wanda - for her neverending efforts in defending Elvis, for her love to him. :love:

William Speer of Memphis/Tennessee has been referred to as “The man who shot Elvis”. Out of the millions of photographs of Elvis Presley, William and Vancil Speer created twelve of the most compelling. These head- and-shoulder portraits, taken in 1955, have been reproduced countless times for publicity
or for publication.
William Speer grew up as a fan of black &white movie glamour shots in the glass cases in theatre lobbies when he was a child. In his younger days, William Speer dreamed of working with his camera in Hollywood. Speer was able to indulge his passion by making portraits of visiting entertainers.

In 1954, Elvis Presley was a skinny kid with light brown hair and bright, star-filled blue eyes. At this time he visited the first time “Speer’s photography”.
A few months later, in July 1955, the then 20-year old Elvis Presley had just begun gaining notoriety but was still far from being known as the “King”. He was just another young musician in Memphis/Tennessee, trying to land his “big-break”. He had already recorded his first record with Sam Phillips at Sun Records. His then-manager - Bob Neal - arranged for Elvis to have these images, taken by photographer William Speer, located at 1330 Linden Avenue. Neal wanted professional shots made to help promote his fledging singing career. He used what he calls "Rembrandt lighting" with an overhead spotlight casting shadows downward.

There he stood in the doorway, long, lean, with big blue eyes and soft full lips. “I opened the doors and it was magic” said Vacil Speer, recalling a moment a long time ago. “I checked him head-to-toe and said “Wow”. The photographer sensed star quality as soon as he met the young singer. “It felt like an electrical charge in the room. He had an electric charge, an animal magnetism - and a charisma” added his wife. You can tell the famous ones or the ones who are going to be famous. They stand out in a room without you even knowing who they are”, says Vacil Speer.
“When he first stepped in front of the camera, I told him, you sure would make a wonderful actor, recalled William Speer of his famous subject. He remembers thinking Elvis “looked” like Burt Lancaster. He could have played his brother in the movies. I told him, “I don’t know if you can sing or not, but you sure would look good in the movies”. “He didn’t like smiles, he liked the glowering look” says Speer. But the series also includes a smiling Elvis, although he says “I don’t usually take smiling jackass pictures. If you’re looking at a person with a smile, all you see is the smile. The smile kills the whole thing. The picture is in the eyes”. The other thing that Speer recalls on this day is, that Elvis couldn’t sit still. He was strumming and fidgeting and moving about so much he hardly had time to change apertures.

For the photo session Elvis arrived with a white sports jacket he wanted to wear in the pictures. They took a few shots with the jacket, and then Vacil Speer suggested Elvis take the jacket off. The bright white color gave his face a washed-out look, she explained. Elvis then posed in his maroon shirt. After a few shots, William Speer decided he had what he needed, but his wife, mesmerized by Elvis, disagreed. She was bold enough to ask Elvis to try “something different” – a few shots with his shirt off. I said “We went this far, might as well take the shirt off too”, she recalls. He didn’t look real happy about it, but he obliged” says Vacil Speer.

A few days after the sitting, at the Loew’s Theatre in Memphis, Elvis ran into the Speers into the lobby and wanted to know how the pictured has turned out, but he was shy talking to Mr. Speer. When he saw proofs, the Speers say he laughed and said “These have got to go”. He wrote a note on the back of the bare-chested ones, saying “I don’t want this one”. The photographs were among the most memorable ever shot of Elvis. Elvis seldom used the shirtless poses for publicity purposes.

His photo’s was taken with a large format camera for portraits, a German Goerzdader lens that weighted more than twenty pounds. Instead off-stops, the camera had “water house stops” were one drops different apertures into the lens.
“Even though he was shy, it was obvious Presley liked being photographed”, William Speer said.

There is Elvis with a gentle grin. There he is looking off, dreamy. There he is, soulful. And so, there is Elvis, bare chested. “I wish to God I had take him the rest of it off”, said Speer. “I’d have made a fortune”. When the photographs were developed, no one was disappointed. “He came off that dead film like dynamite. Either you’ve got it or you haven’t it” says Speer.

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A few say later Elvis sent his parent to Speer for their portrait. The photographs of Vernon and Gladys are intriguing in itself, including one of a few pictures where Gladys is smiling.

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William Speers: “I never photographed him again, but I used to see him later on, driving around Memphis on his motorcycle. You know when he got old and let his hair grow long, he looked like his mother”.
A few years later, Elvis brought Anita Wood to have her professional photo made. This time Elvis was a distraction, not the subject. It was then that Speers think he may have offended Elvis, who never returned. While he was concentrating on photographing the girlfriend, Elvis as in the next room and began singing. “I said, “Stop the racket. I’m trying to take a picture”

The photos also were turned into a 1993 calendar with Elvis the cover boy for 11 months and a separate Speer photo of Elvis' parents, Vernon and Gladys Presley, as the 12. month.

These exclusive images have been made available for exhibit in honor of whsat would have been Elvis' 75th birthday in 2010. They represent a time in Elvis' life when he was young, naive and innocent. The intimacy, purity and boyish appeal that these images portray, was never again captured in his life. They provide a short glimpse of what this budding superstar was like before he ever had to deal with the pressures of public scutiny, police escorts and 24 hour bodyguards just to try an live his life.

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The biggest part of Elvis Presley was his big heart. It was full of love for everyone
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 Post subject: Re: Elvis - by William Speer
PostPosted: Tue Sep 03, 2013 7:24 pm 
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Joined: Fri Mar 01, 2013 10:28 pm
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Thank You for Sharing these Beautiful Photos with us and Such a Awesome Story about the Person that took them, Its a Rare Find to See Some One that was Not Only a Natural Beauty on the Outside but also a Natural Beauty on the Inside to. That's want Elvis was, and the Man that took these Photos of Elvis when he was just Starting out really Let Elvis Sweet and Loving Face Shine. Some of these Photos I have seen before but some I haven't, and they are Truly Awesome Angel Eyes! :love:



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Without you I am nothing an could never be so bold. The times we've shared, the laughter and the tears. Priceless memories, treasures all. How could I ever fail? With you I don't fear that at all. Elvis Presley!
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 Post subject: Re: Elvis - by William Speer
PostPosted: Wed Sep 04, 2013 11:42 am 
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Awesome is right! Thanks Angel eyes, I have never seen some of these before!
It is so amazing how much is STILL OUT THERE! and not revealed yet. Probably after we are all gone from this earth, there will be more found!!! It just seems
that way as it's been years and new stuff is still coming out! Elvis would be awed too, he stated that "10 years after I'm gone, nobody will give a damn about Elvis Presley!" I told him then that he'd never be misplaced, forgotten or over looked! He kind of snorted and said something about how many past famous people have been forgotten, you ever think of that? I remember that last "you ever think of that" statement most. I've "thought of that" type thing a lot since he's been gone...he's not really gone...his memory and image is still
so "alive" around the world, he's still here in many ways...and will always be.
He would never have believed it.
wanda



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Wanda June Hill
author of "We Remember, Elvis" & "Elvis - Face to Face"
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