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“Elvis ’56”

These days, photographing rock stars is like photographing royalty—with similar rules of protocol to fulfill and numbers of courtiers to flatter. In 1956, however, Elvis Presley wasn’t yet the King, and young photographer Alfred Wertheimer didn’t need to show unusual deference. The result was some 4,000 intimate, candid shots, most of which were never used by Wertheimer’s client, RCA Records. Since the label had no interest in most of the images, the photographer didn’t even print them. They were waiting to be unearthed two decades later when the singer died, unleashing a fury of interest in Elvis artifacts. As this show of 40 of them reveals, the photographs deserved their rediscovery. Sensual and spontaneous, the images capture the brooding appeal of the young Elvis, as well as perhaps the last unguarded moments of Presley’s public life. At Govinda Gallery, 1227 34th Street NW. FREE. (202) 333-1180. (Mark Jenkins)