Spotlight: Physiography - photography by Thomas Mitchell

This month's Paragon Spotlight features a selection of gorgeous nude male images from Physiography – photography by Thomas Mitchell. Tom’s mesmerizing creative work has captured the imagination of fans across the globe. In addition, his blog has become a must-visit site for photographers anyone interested in nude male images. We are proud to count Thomas Mitchell as a friend of Paragon Men and were lucky enough to interview him in his Bel Air, California studio.

How long have you been a photographer?

I’ve been photographing male nudes for about twelve years. Before that, my photo work before that was just a hobby.

Where can our readers find more of your work?

Readers can find more of my work at my website. I also post recent work to my weekly photo blog.

What drew you to studying the nude male form?

For me the ideal masculine form has always been a well-muscled man, because I grew up reading comic books filled with superheroes in costumes tighter than their own skin. As I got older I was drawn to bodybuilding and bodybuilders to learn how men achieve that type of physique, which led me to work out myself, although I have never come close to achieving the results of the men I photograph. I satisfy my interest in muscular physiques by capturing them in pleasing and artistic images that go beyond bodybuilding displays. I try to capture the strength, structure and shape of well-muscled men while avoiding cheesy poses or gratuitous eroticism.

Your images are often black and white. What are your thoughts on color vs. black and white physique photography?

Color images either feel too real to me, or - if the colors are vibrant – too fantastic. I also think the color in an image can overpower the senses and become a distraction from the subject. A color image of a person is almost always primarily about the person. A black and white image of a person can be more about form and texture or the image itself.

Which photographers or artists have most inspired you?

Herb Ritts and the early work of Tom Bianchi.

Tell us about your career and training as photographer.

When I began photographing male nudes, I started to seek out formal instruction and began taking courses at Otis College of Art and Design. Most of my training has been in traditional film-based photography and I have only recently abandoned film for digital. I still like to use special films like infrared to achieve special effects that can’t be easily duplicated with digital photography. My work is primarily artistic. I create my images to please my own aesthetic sense first of all. If I am successful at that, then the images usually move others as well. I show and sell my artwork on my website and have exhibited my work at other venues over the years as well.

What does Physiography mean?

Physiography is a mash-up of “physique” and “photography”. When I came up with the name and used it on my website I thought I had cleverly created a new word, but I discovered it was already a real word meaning “physical geology”. But since most of my work is simple studies of the human form against blank backgrounds, which tend to abstract the body into landscapes, the term might be even more appropriate than I intended.

What sort of work and/or services do you provide?

I don’t see myself as a commercial photographer who works to fulfill a photo assignment. My primary revenue is from sale of gallery prints. Occasionally I do photo commissions.

Where has your work been published?

Selected images have also been published in various photo anthology books: Dreamboys 2-4, The Male Nude Index, Manatomy, the Romantic Male Nude, and Bad. I am also working on a book proposal.

What do you look for in a model?

The most important attribute is excellent muscle definition. Beyond that, since my work is intensely collaborative, I like my models to be creative, graceful, willing to experiment, and to be comfortable with their own bodies. As you can see from my work, my models don’t have to be the biggest guys at the gym. I work a lot with beginning models and encourage anyone who wants to work with me to contact me. I am by nature relaxed and easy going. Modeling for me is hard work because of all the flexing, but my models also laugh and have a good time.

What is the best way for models or fans to reach you?

The email links on either my website or my blog.

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