Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Honest Site Reviews: Tim in Vermont's Vintage Physique Photography is a Gay Old Time!

It's important, since I'm scoring Vintage Physique Photography so high (95 out of 100 possible points), to note that this review is 100% unbiased and objective...neither myself nor VGMH receive any money for writing this review or for any clicks to their site.  With that out of the way, I've wanted to review Vintage Physique Photography (VPP) for some time now, because of the good things I've read about it.  In my opinion, VPP is pretty impressive for anyone that is a male fitness/male sexuality history buff:
To get an idea of what VPP is about, here's a portion of Tim Wilbur's (VPP's creator) mission statement: "...Very little is being done these days to make sure the history of physique photography is preserved in a way that will allow mass numbers of people to view its details. Photographs and magazines are thrown out by startled heirs, images on film are fading and being destroyed, or collectors keep their treasures locked away for no one else to see. Many times these brave individuals had their property raided by right-wing law enforcement and endured further threats, fines and sometimes even prison sentences. It would be a crime to let those who contributed material during this important period be forgotten. This web site will serve to preserve and present their work to anyone with a computer and an Internet connection."

VPP includes three types of media; 1)Vintage magazines (photos); 2) Old movies; and 3) Paper advertising products (ads and stories intended for a male audience). This media is then further categorized as; 1) Fitness/physique; 2) Male nudes; and 3) Hardcore male smut.
I first visited Vintage Physique Photography last Saturday afternoon and was overwhelmed at the content.  Magazine listings are searchable by: Title, Category, Publisher, ID code, and Date. But wait! The site is also searchable by: Posing straps, Nudes, Physique culture (bodybuilding fitness), Art, Text, Hardcore, and Ephemera (the ads and such).  All of this comes in handy when you consider that there are over 600,000 total images on the site (non-nude, nude and hardcore) and over 470,000 models/athletes identified within the database.

There's so many men, from so many eras, and in so many categories, that it would be impossible for me to adequately describe what "type" of men are to be found on the site.  So instead I'll just suggest that viewers are offered a huge and varied buffet of guys, and most folks are bound to find some beefy dishes that they enjoy enough to want to come back to the table for seconds.   Of course there are the stars, including current vintage favorites Al Parker, Leo Ford, and Jack Wrangler.  There's also the parade of first-name-only Santa Monica Blvd men who dropped their pants to make some easy cash, and in-between these two extremes are countless models, such as blonde hunk Bo Lingstrum, sexy Jon Sommers, and Kirk Bond (pictured directly below).
Before going any further, it's important to underscore the "historical compliation" aspect of the site...Since this is vintage media, the quality of the content varies with that of the original producers of the images, and VPP includes it all in order to preserve everything. This means that when surfing photos and movies, members encounter different degrees of image quality, including; The Excellent; The Great; The Alright; and The Bad.  Personally, I like getting the opportunity to see it all.

It's always been common practice in the industry to "reuse" images in multiple magazines, and I expected (and found) that to be true with many of the magazine photos cataloged on VPP.  This means that some duplicates are included in those 600,000-plus total images (in my opinion, the benefit of having the entire magazine from cover is more important than maybe seeing the same photo included in several different magazines).  And while I had already seen some of the photos previously on the internet...again  VPP offered the entire set of original images, usually in much higher quality/larger sizes than the internet versions, and often with the names of the models.
It's important to stress that not all of the images are nudes or related to sex. The site has an extensive library of fitness and bodybuilding images (think men in posing straps and trunks). Type in a year and get a list of body building contest winners.  If you enjoy the history of body building, stories about fitness and health, and images of beefy men in next to nothing, then you can spend days and days in this section alone. VPP has done and outstanding job of documentng what were the media origins for everything else that was to come in the future. 

The style of the site is straightforward, with a consistent feel and appearance. Forget about seeing fancy symbols, icons, photos or dancing fire graphics on the menu/navigation pages…the main menu page is simply there to get you to the content you want to see…and it delivers very nicely. Tim is to be commended for undertaking the task of developing the database system on the site.  Click on a menu or particular item and you go right there (this is what is supposed to happen at all sites, however many have broken links and things that just don’t work, so it’s shouldn’t be taken for granted). VPP has buttons on every page to take you back "home" so you can't get lost (some sites launch new browser windows and you cannot back out of them: again not a problem here).  Places where viewers are expected to click for actions are obvious, and a change in font color helps track where members have already been.
New/updated material notifications are offered on the main menu. Taking a look at the update pages, they are current and new material seems to be added on a regular basis throughout every month. Pages load fast, and I was online at various hours day and night without any traffic problems. No DRM limits on downloading of material like some other sites (a big plus in my book).

In summary, if you're interested in the vintage male, then Vintage Physique Photography  is definitely worth looking at.  Customer service also seems to be very good...when I contacted Webmaster Tim via email, he always responded in less than 24 hours. With all online activities, I always recommend getting answers to any questions you might have beforehand.  Images are from the Vintage Physique Photography site and used with permission.

1 comment:

  1. sounds like it hasn't changed much since I was there a couple years ago. fun.


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