Shooting Graceland

It’s a good thing that the ticket office a.k.a. Graceland Plaza and Graceland are separated by the wide Elvis Presley Boulevard. Visitors are shuttled from the ticket office to the front of the house, but will not find a single moment of solitude, while at Graceland, a place much smaller than I had imagined.

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Inside Graceland, it’s often very narrow, only one or two yards of a room are accessible and there are lots of other visitors around you, making it a very challenging environment to photograph. Before even entering the shuttle that drove us across Elvis Presley Blvd, I had decided to use the 24mm 2.8 prime lens, which features image stabilization (IS). Looking back, I think it was the right choice, since there was never time to change lenses and IS allowed to handheld the camera, even inside mostly dark rooms.

One of my favorite shots is the living room / music room. The living room is furnished with a custom-made, 14-foot-long white leather couch and 10-foot coffee table. The music room is separated from the living room by an entryway flanked with stained-glass peacocks.

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Elvis’ parents’ bedroom

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The billiard room

The couches, walls, and ceiling are all covered in pleated, matching fabric — 400 yards of matching fabric. It took three workmen 10 days to cover every square inch of the billiard room with the stuff. Elvis loved to play pool and he was very competitive, as he was in all things. The table still sports a tear in the felt where one of Elvis’ friends attempted a trick shot.

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The only time I have seen Elvis while he was still alive, was at a live appearance in German television, in 1976 or 1977. Still, I can very much appreciate his musical influence on America and the world. He fused country-western music of the South with rhythm and blues of African Americans and the pop music like no one before him.

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Can’t help falling in love with you – Elvis Presley

Wise men say, only fools rush in.
But, I can’t help falling in love with you.
Shall I stay? Shall I say?
Would it be a sin,
If I, I can’t help, falling in love with you.
Like a river flows, surely to the sea.
Darling so it goes, somethings are meant to be.
Take my hand.
Take my whole life too.
For I, I can’t help falling in love with you.
Like a river flows, surely to the sea.
Darling so it goes, somethings are meant to be.
Take my hand.
Take my whole life too.
For I, I can’t help, falling in love with you.
No I, I can’t help, falling in love with you.

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The infamous Jungle Room was originally a screened in back patio that sat behind the kitchen. In the 1960s, Elvis made the patio part of the main house, complete with a working waterfall on the far wall.

The jungle room was loaded with exotic plants, animal prints and floor-to-ceiling shag carpet. The result of the carpeted ceiling was a dampened sound that made recording music a possibility. In fact, Elvis recorded the album “From Elvis Presley Boulevard, Memphis, Tennessee” and half of “Moody Blue” right there amid the fauna and leaking water.

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Graceland

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