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Ed Bonja was Elvis’s official photographer between the years 1970 and 1975.

He was born in 1945 in Chicago, Illinois and passed away on September 4, 2019 in Berlin.

Ed Bonja worked for Colonel Parker throughout the 1970s, but had been part of the Elvis family since childhood.

Ed was the nephew of Tom Diskin, Colonel Parker’s right-hand man. Ed met the colonel in the 1950s and formally met Elvis in 1964, during the filming of the movie Girl Happy. Ed was 19 years old and assisted the colonel as a secretary. Although Ed already knew Elvis from a very young age because he was always a part of his life through the colonel and his uncle, and he saw all his performances on the West Coast.

“The Colonel was at our house quite often when he worked in California, because he worked a lot on the West Coast. After dinner, he loved to sit down and light a huge cigar and tell us his show business stories. Very casually One afternoon he said, “Oh, I hired a new guy this week and I think he’s going to be pretty big. His name is Elvis Presley. It was as casual as that, but from then on everything revolved around Elvis in my life.”

In 1970, as a result of Elvis’ live performances, the colonel hired his services to collaborate as “on tour manager” on Elvis’s tours. But the colonel, since Ed was studying photography, began to require him to also take photos of Elvis.

In this way, he increasingly focused more on his work as a photographer and became Elvis’s official photographer.

He took about 10,000 photos of Elvis on his tours… His photos would be used for publicity, to promote the tours, to make merchandising, and we can see them on the covers of his 70s albums.

Ed photographs Elvis onstage above. Unlike Wertheimer, Ed did not want to photograph his privacy.
He was very shy and they managed to stay in the shade, but even so, Elvis knew that Ed was there!!

As Ed was waiting on stage for Elvis to enter, Elvis saw him and pointed his guitar at him and said, “How’s it going tonight Eddy?…and then he would stop for a moment so I could take a picture.

On other occasions when Elvis moved freely on stage, Ed was there, hidden behind the speakers. But Elvis turned his eyes and looked at the lens of his camera!…

“He was looking at me!” Ed Bonja said excitedly, when they interviewed him.

Ed told us the story of an Elvis already in his personal and artistic maturity, at the peak of his career, through his lens.
His work reflected every moment, every moment of the artist, but it is curious that many times he did not care about the focus, the light or the technical perfection of the photography. Ed was looking for that special moment, improvisation, power, grandeur and the feeling of the artist, mainly on stage…

“My favorite photo of Elvis” is the one of Elvis in his white suit, on his plane. We were in Alabama and my uncle Tom Diskin and I spent the night and went home on Elvis’s plane. I was sitting in the back and when Elvis got on board he went to the back of the plane to the bathroom.

When he came out I raised my camera and Elvis stopped. He turned to me, and I was thinking that I was bothering him and that he shouldn’t be doing that. I said, “Sorry Elvis, you don’t have to pose.” But Elvis, with his usual sense of humor, completely broke the ice by saying, “Oh, I’m not going to pose. What do you want me to do, hold my private parts in my hand?”

Ed Bonja

We all laughed, and I quickly snapped that photo. However, I was also very cautious in making sure that I never became intrusive or could disturb him.”

Information provided by Elvis. El Chico de Tupelo https://m.facebook.com/102791652501100/


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