Don Whitman: Men With Chain (vintage)
Don Whitman: Western Photography Guild, Men With Chain
Vintage photograph 1950s
This is a 4×5″ image by Western Photo Guild photographer Don Whitman. It is sepia toned and on high-quality textured photo paper, a vintage print from the 1950s.
“Western Photograpy Guild began offering thier original physique photographs in 1947. These unique images, many made outdoors in the Rocky Mountains of Colorado, were well received from the start. The creative force behinde the studio was Don Whitman. Don served in in the Navy during world war two. Upon returning to his native Colorado, he began working as an accountant. Don was inspired by a physique model that he met during the war, that there might be a future in the physique photography business. He placed an ad in the local newspaper for models. The response from models was good, and Western started off with 12 handsome models and 12 sets of photographs offered in April of 1947.
The studio flurished throughout the 1950’s and on into the 1960’s. Tragedy struck hard in June of 1965, when the South Platte River in Denver over-flowed its banks during a powerful June storm. The flood caused serious damage to the WPG studio which was close to the river. Much of the equipment was ruined. Many of the negatives were covered in mud and could never be printed from again. Don, along with the help of his family, employees and even some of the models began the daunting task of cleaning up the mess and saving and restoring what they could. Despite this serious blow, the studio moved forward and for the most part recovered. No doubt though, some really beautiful and unique imges were lost forever.
In 1968 the laws concerning the mailing of frontal nude images were changed. It was now possible to photograph models without using a posing strap or clever concealment of thier genitals. To a large degree Whitmans photographs from this period retain the artistic approach that made his earlier work so popular.
Don was well liked by most of the models he worked with, and many of them remained lasting friends for the rest of his life. I believe this aspect of Whitman comes through in his photographs which are almost entirely appericiative rather then exploitive. Western Photography Guild continued to photograph new models into the early 1980’s. The studio closed in 1989, with prints still available through mail order for a couple of years. The result is a truly amazing body of work, that spans more then 40 years of the male nude in the 20th centruy. Don passed away in 1998. His family and friends miss him a great deal.”
— from the WPG site