Thursday, January 5, 2012

VGMH Review Update: Vintage Physique Photography

Note: Vintage Physique Photography was the first pay site to be reviewed here at VGMH almost two years ago, so it was time for an early 2012 visit.   As Tim at Vintage Physique Photography (VPP) recently told me, not much has changed over the past two years at his site.  But other things have changed:  Especially in the past twelve months, there has been an explosion of retro male porn showing up on many of the adult photo sharing sites.  But with many of the identical photos now available for free viewing on these photo sharing sites, what continues to make Vintage Physique Photography unique is that Tim identifies almost 75% of his content's models by their names and offers some context as to its (the images) origins.   The original VGMH review follows, updated where relevant,  including increasing the overall rating for Vintage Physique Photography from a 95 excellent score 97:
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."

The name of the site is Vintage Physique Photography and it's important to stress upfront that not all of the images are nudes and not all of them are even directly related to male erotica.  It includes three types of media; 1) Vintage magazines (photos and articles), 2) Movies, and 3) Paper advertising (ads intended for a male audience).  This content is then further categorized as being: 1) Fitness/physique, 2) Male posing nudes, or 3) Hardcore male porn (including illustrations). 

Because it's always been common practice in the publishing industry for producers to reissue the same photo in several magazines, I expected (and found) that to be true with many of the magazine photos cataloged on VPP.   This means that there will be duplicate photos included in those 747,341 images as they often appeared in more than just one publication.   Also be aware that "images" does not always mean photographic images, as articles and text are also included.  But anyway that it's looked at, Tim's library is impressively large, as the amazing site statistics above demonstrate.

There's so many men, coming from so many eras and from so many types of publications, that it would be impossible to adequately describe what "type" of men" are to be found within this site.  It has an extensive library of fitness and bodybuilding photos (think muscle men in posing straps and trunks as they pose in sporting competitions).  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 countless hours in this section alone.  In the smut section of the site there are all the classic favorites including Al Parker, Leo Ford, and Jack Wrangler and many anonymous men who dropped their pants for the camera over the decades.
With this much vintage material, it's important to underscore the "historical compilation" aspect of the site and the fact that some images have held up better than others over the decades.  There are some wonderful high resolution photos that look as perfect today as when they were taken.  Then there are some others that were probably less-than-great when they were brand new and have only become worse over time.  The majority of content falls somewhere in-between these two extremes.  To Tim's credit, VPP includes it all in order to preserve everything.  This means that when surfing photos and movies, members encounter different degrees of image quality.   The site also does a credible job of tackling the problem of preserving the integrity of the original document while recognizing the need for scanning stapled and bound magazines to make them accessible for modern technology sharing.  With this in mind, more than a few images display a 'white flash' burn where the magazine pages were stapled together and wouldn't lay completely flat while being copied.  The opinion here is that preserving the original intact magazine is more important than taking it apart for improved scanning. 
In terms of operations, the style of the site is very basic and straightforward.   Forget about fancy graphics and glossy front pages designed to get people to sign up.   The huge amount of content is king here.   The main menu page is simply there to get you to the material that you want to see…and it delivers very nicely.  Tim is to be commended for undertaking the task of developing this diverse database.  Click on a menu or particular item and you go right there (this is what is supposed to happen at all sites, however many sites 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.  As time moves forward, new "vintage" material may mean 1990's plus.  There are no DRM limits on downloading of material like some other sites.

This site is not going to be for everybody and it doesn't try to be.  To summarize, if you're interested in vintage men from the fields of sport and erotica then you should have a great time with Tim's wonderful library.  And if you understand upfront that when it comes to antique documents, quantity does not always equate with today's expectations for image quality, then Vintage Physique Photography  is definitely worth considering.  With that in mind, the rating is a very high 97.
Admission options are $7.00 for seven days, $12.00 for one month recurring, $30 for three months recurring, $55.00 for six months non recurring, and $99.00 for one year. Recurring charges will be automatically rebilled until you cancel your subscription.  Payments are processed through Paypal.  As with all internet transactions, please confirm these rates should they change.  Any questions or concerns about memberships should be asked prior to joining.  Contact information for Tim is available on the Vintage Physique Photography site.

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for the comprehensive review of this site, Steve. It looks like Tim really works hard to preserve as much of the content available within the scope of his stated field of interest, and he apparently does a great job of organizing, identifying and captioning the images.

    Thanks for bringing this online archive to my attention.

    And best wishes to you for the new year!


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