Sometimes a fleeting glance can equal a thousand word essay. Not everyone is born with a poker face. I have four adult children. I would venture at least three of them could speak a complete elaborate verbal tale without a telling emotion if the situation were absolutely required. It might take some diligence, but that task could totally be accomplished. However that fourth child ……
I cannot think of another man in recent history so well documented by photographic essay. Aren’t we fortunate? From early childhood there is characteristic embodiment so telling, so charismatic, so lovely and recognizable, that I know of no Elvis fan who could ever tire of gazing upon an attractive image of his beautiful face, no matter the age or the angle. There are some however who consider it treasonous to think any captured image of the King could be less than perfection. How often have we read a reply stating “He never took a bad photo!” I am sorry to report this is untrue.
With the rise of the digital age and a camera always at the ready at our fingertips, photo after photo after photo is taken of any given subject, whether it be from a distance or so incredibly close up you can see the pores of a person’s skin. No detail is left to the imagination any more. While this is a good thing for photographic documentation, it leaves another issue in it’s wake.
Once upon a time we shot a roll of film and waited rather impatiently for them to be developed to view our finished products, often a bit disappointed in the outcome. The down side is the poor quality of photos. The upside is a truer representation of photographic reality in many cases. Yes, people blinked, they grimaced, they were caught at odd angles and in awkward poses. That’s reality. With digital photography we delete any flawed photo long before it is ever printed. In fact, I’d say the majority are never printed. I do like to think about the images we would have of our man if cameras today had been readily available back then. Just imagine! I love to think of the wonder of that. As much as we value the sometimes blurred or distorted images of yesteryear, to have such great quality photos like we have now would be beyond priceless.
All of the discussion aside of photo quality, one thing without argument to me is our sweet Elvis was always transparent in photos. True, he was incredibly photogenic for the most part but yes, realistically there ARE bad photos of him out there. To admit such does not negate your fandom nor revoke your fan status. It’s simple honesty. I won’t dignify my comment with examples out of respect but believe me, it’s true. But even more important than photo quality is photo reality – Elvis photo reality.
I believe the reality of the beauty of his photos is that his emotions were captured as well as his image. His photos never masked his feelings. The looks were always telling – quizzical, playful, thoughtful, introspective, sexy, curious, lonely, happy, joyous, angry, annoyed or sad. They emotions were always on the surface, even the ripples of the deeper emotions. He did not possess a poker face. His facial features were beautiful, adonis like, in fact, physical perfection in every sense. But it was his expressiveness that was equally as drawing. Just as he never hid his love for his fans nor his respect and admiration for the people and things that were important to him, he almost always revealed his thoughts in a pure and loving physical way. It was part of his make up, of who he was. That manifested connection was impossible to hide and thankfully will always be impossible to forget.
About the Author: Janet Bostic has been a fan of Elvis since the age of 5 (maybe before that!) and has studied his life as long as she can remember. She saw Elvis four times including once in 1976 when she received a scarf and enjoyed a kiss and some conversation with him. Janet has taken 4 trips to Graceland, with her earliest being in 1976 when Elvis lived there. She is visiting Graceland again in the Spring of 2019. Her favorite Elvis song is “Love Coming Down.” She is the mother of triplets and (just like Elvis) her only daughter’s name…is Lisa. Elvis has always been a huge part of her life.