John Palatinus is one of the pioneering early physique photographers
of the 1950s. Along with Lon of New York, Bruce of Los Angeles, and
Bob Mizer of Athletic Model Guild he helped create a whole new genre
of male photography.
Palatinus was noted for his use of light and shadow to highlight
the topography of the male physique. He used clean light-washed backgrounds
to clearly define the figure at a time when some photographers were
using kitschy sets and props.
Palatinus was born in South Bend, Indiana in 1929 and lived &
worked in that area as a window display designer. During this period
he attended Indiana University.
In 1954 he began photographing the young bodybuilders of South Bend.
His work first appeared in "Tomorrow’s Man," a pocket-sized
bodybuilding magazine that featured the same type of young male physique.
A move to New York City came in 1956 where he had a studio on West
13th street in Greenwich Village. He continued to be featured in "TM"
and did a thriving mail-order business, selling his photographs nationwide.
Beginning in 1958, Palatinus started shooting and selling full-frontal
nude photos through the mail. This proved to be an unfortunate move.
His "Village" studio was raided by the US Postal Inspectors
in cooperation with the New York Police Department. All of his photographs,
original negatives, cameras, lights and equipment were confiscated,
never to be returned. John Palatinus was very effectively put out
of business. After a trial, he was convicted not of distribution of
so-called pornography, but of conspiracy, a misdemeanor charge, and
spent no time in jail.
John Palatinus now lives in Palm Springs, California and may be one
of the last living photographers from the 1950's golden era of physique