Elvis backstage with photographer Sean Shaver.
Hilton Hotel, Las Vegas, January, 1974.
(Photo source: Elvis Collectors.com ...
As a freelance photographer, Sean Shaver covered Elvis at concerts and public appearances, as
well as candidly, on a full-time basis from 1967 to 1977. During this time, Shaver estimates
that he took 75.000-80.000 pictures. He is the author of magazines and books containing (his) Elvis photographs.
Once there existed a website about Sean Shaver maintained by a fan called "Suza B." (www.seanshaver.com).
This website has dissapeared from the internet for some years now and had some very interesting info about Sean.
Luckily, the website was partly archived by
and can be found in bits and pieces there.
Below are some excerpts restored from that website.
"Sean first started putting out books of his famous photographs back in 1972. He did one book
each year from then until 1987, a total of 15. The book he did in 1979 was his most famous:
The Life of Elvis Presley
Some fans call it the Elvis Bible. This was Sean's first hardback book,
it featured over 300 pages filled with almost a thousand photographs. All but a few were in color.
This is the book all other books about Elvis are compared to. This rare hard-to-find book has
been sold-out for almost twenty years. Sean's archives had a few copies of each of his books
still in MINT condition. These were part of his personal collection and he had signed each of
them. Some are even inscribed."
"All of his books were privately published and never really made available to the public.
"My books are for the fans, " he always said. He was never really interested in going public.
Several times publishers tried to coax him into letting them put out his books but he wouldn't
turn over his photographs to what he called "outsiders." Once a book was published there
usually wasn't a second printing. You had one chance to get one of his books and most sold
out within days or weeks. Only a few copies of his books were found in his personal collection."
"Sean Shaver spent a good deal of his life trying to get Elvis Presley on film. (...) Sean shot
so much film of Elvis that many times he didn't have time to get it all processed before going
back out to shoot more. Sometimes he would misplace his processed negatives by putting them down
and then later stacking something on top of them, or putting them into an envelope or box and
forgetting what he had done with them. Over time they would actually be lost. Hundreds of rolls
still hadn't been processed when Elvis passed away."
"During the years Elvis was with us not too many of us knew Sean and what he was doing. Only a
few of us more fortunate diehard fans were lucky enough to know him back then. From around 1967
onward he sold and gave away photographs of Elvis to fans. But it was only after the publication
of his first hardback book The Life of Elvis Presley that he became fairly well known. After that,
he would sometimes tour with the Elvis conventions and meet fans and show his actual photographs to
fans and the public. He always enjoyed meeting with fans. Once when he was worn-out after a
full 12-hour day of signing books and posing for photos he was asked if he didn't get tired of
it. His answer was classic Sean. "These people are Elvis fans, they loved Elvis and Elvis loved
them. I love them too." (...)"
Now about the books.
The Life of Elvis Presley
The book that is one of the most sought after book in Elvisland. There were three printings of
this book and a few of each were put away by Sean for himself. Today sometimes used copies are found for sale.
Used copies of this book have gone for as much as $400 and $500. Mostly these books have been signed by Sean for
the fan that bought it originally. All of the books have been autographed by Sean.
Photographing the King
This book came out back in 1980. It has a funny history. Sean selected the photos
and wrote the text. Then he left on a trip and vacation. When he returned the book was finished. When Sean picked
up the book he was amazed to find the book was printed completely wrong. The text used in the book was the rough
first-draft and not the final one he had turned in. Many of the photos used in the book were ones he had set out
to be used but also to his horror he found dozens that he had put aside to never be used.
Elvis' Portrait Portfolio
Printed in 1983 this 304 page 9x12 sized book has been sold-out for two decades.
Every photograph in this book is in fabulous black and white. See Elvis' 1935 baby photo and more. A treasure.
The Elvis Book, Vol. 2
This book has 334 giant 11x14 sized pages filled with full color photographs
and 4 16x29 full color fold outs. It also has a terrific story line. All of the never-before-seen full
color photographs are a full 11x14 inches in size. Each photo is a work of art. This rare gem is the real
deal. One of the largest Elvis book ever put out.
Our Memories of Elvis
Originally put together to be sold only in Memphis. The 304 page 9x12 sized book is filled with
the photographs of the two most famous Elvis photographers, Al Wertheimer and Sean Shaver.
Only 1900 copies were printed.
The Elvis Book, Vol. 3
This book has 334 giant 11x14 sized pages filled with full color photographs and
continues the terrific story line where it left off in volume 2. All the photos are a full page size.
Don't miss out on being the owner of this fabulous set of books.
The Elvis Book, Vol. 4: The Candid Elvis
The Candid Elvis: This is the last book in the series and is the same
giant 11x14 size. Each of the photographs in this book is a private and candid photograph.
Almost 200 pages of full color full page rarities.
Elvis In Focus
A 304 page hardback book filled with color photographs not found in any of Sean's other books.
But it is the story in this book that made it so popular. Elvis In Focus was
voted "The Best Elvis Book ever put out" by the fan clubs. It is sometimes called
the key to all Sean's books and to many other Elvis books because it describes so much
of how the Elvis machine ran. This book goes into a lot of detail about the way Elvis toured
and some of the unique ways Sean photographed Elvis.
Text updated: 1 June 2022