Friday, January 20, 2017

Peak of Physical Attraction: Mark by Peek Physique

'I'm fascinated with the notion that there is one day in everyone's life when they are at their peak of physical attraction.'

I continue to be drawn back to the work of photographer Tom Willard since first featuring his images back in 2011. I love the men Tom chooses to shoot, all great looking and incredibly hot but not necessarily men you might think of us typical fashion or runway models. Many of the men who Tom shoots call him, after seeing one of the 'models wanted' wanted flyers he put up around his Alma mater, Rochester Institute of Technology.

I can imagine these guys, most of whom never thought of modeling, let alone without any of their clothes on, seeing Tom's sign, the continuing to walk by...pausing, then going back and tearing off one of the slips of paper with Tom's e-mail address from the bottom of the flyer. I would guess the little piece of paper stays in their wallet, or jean pant pocket for a few days while they go back and forth over the prospect of taking off all of their clothes in front of a complete stranger for the first time. I would guess they go over the pros and cons, maybe talk about it with a friend, room mate or girlfriend, or maybe keep the decision making process completely to themselves.  Then... they finally get in contact, e-mail Tom a question or two, mostly to find out about payment and if Tom is a 'real' photographer, then decide to take the risk and go for it.

For Tom, when deciding whether to shoot one of the guys who contacts him, the decision comes down to one thing. Are they at their peek physique. Mark certainly was, and he was one of those Rochester students who replied after seeing one of Tom's 'models wanted' flyers. Tom remembers him showing up for the shoot wearing a brown leather jacket, but no shirt underneath.  'I could see that he had brought a six-pack to the party that had nothing to do with beer.'

Pretty confident move wearing a leather jacket without a shirt, but with his body and face, Mark's swagger and attitude was well earned. Tom was living in a downtown loft building at the time, so he and Mark headed up to the roof start the shoot that would continue later in Tom's studio. Mark was more than fine getting completely naked, but wasn't quite ready for Mark Jr to make his debut on film quite yet. Tom has learned that every model has their own comfort level with full frontal nudity and given how great Mark was in front of the camera had no problem quickly going through five rolls of film capturing a nice variety of shots.

'I was still shooting on film. I love the look you get from film, it just seems different from what we get nowadays with digital. And of course, those were the days when you didn't know if your pictures were turning out okay until you got the film back from the lab a day or two later. You just had to trust in the ghost of George Eastman.'

Tom hadn't kept up with Mark, but after I asked about featuring their work, especially given the shoot was quite awhile ago, decided to look him up on Facebook. Tom shares that Mark still looks really good, but it reinforced the philosophy behind his work.

'Time stands still for no one. It reinforces my belief that people should get themselves photographed when they are at their physical peak because that stage of life does not last very long. I'm fascinated with the notion that there is one day in everyone's life when they are at their peak of physical attraction and after that we all go downhill. That, plus our natural urge to steal a peek at perfection, is why I call my photo endeavors "Peek Physique."

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