Fifty-six dramatic black-and-white photographs taken by Alfred Wertheimer in 1956. The photographs feature Elvis Presley on the brink of international superstardom — including intimate images taken in Richmond.

Wertheimer was hired by RCA Victor in 1956 to shoot promotional images of Elvis, who had just been signed to record for the label. Wertheimer’s images provide viewers today with a look at Elvis before he exploded onto the rock-and-roll scene. Wertheimer was given total access to Elvis on the road, backstage, in concert, in the recording studio and at home in Memphis. Shortly after Wertheimer had completed his assignment, “Colonel” Tom Parker, Elvis’s manager, restricted contact with his star.

“Henri Cartier-Bresson was known for photographing what he called the ‘decisive moment,’ that moment when everything falls into place,” says Wertheimer. “But I was more interested in the moments before or after the decisive moment.”

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Exhibition Catalogues
Elvis 1956
Elvis at 21: New York to Memphis

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In-kind contributor: Martin’s