Jeff Palmer, photographer.
I was born in 1948 in Palm Springs, California. I returned to the desert seven years ago and again call Palm Springs home with my partner Joe. The desert greatly influenced the aesthetic I developed as I grew up. The distinct quality of light and shadow on the textures of the vast plains, eroded mountains and towering clouds instilled in me a perception of the sculptural quality of light. The quiet and often hidden sensuality of the desert created a feeling of intimacy and mystery. The flowing grace of warm water and warm air influenced my sensuality. All of these were instilled at an early age.
Interested in the visual arts as a very young man, I graduated with a Master’s degree in Theatre Arts which I went on to teach for 15 years. It was from this world of theatrical design and lighting that I first entered the world of photography – taking photos of actors in dramatic settings. I fell in love with the ability of light to sculpt a scene and create a mood. The theatricality of light and shadow – how it can convey mood and feelings as well as sculpt the body – has become a hallmark of my photographic images.
In 1984 when I asked my first model to pose nude, recognition was the furthest thing from my mind. At the suggestion of a support group, I had begun to look for a creative expression of the joys of “coming out” as a gay man. I found that outlet through the lens of my camera. By 1988 I was being featured in group shows and was being invited to show my work throughout the country. In 1988, at the height of the AIDS crisis Joe and I wanted to help raise funds for our local AIDS agencies as well as show a positive light on gay men and their sexuality. Over the course of 10 years we contributed over $500,000 to AIDS organizations nationwide through the AIDS Benefit Calendar.
During these years, I and several other pioneering gay photographers from the 70’s and 80’s – Ken Duncan, Jim French, Ken Haak, Herb Ritts -- planted the seeds for the reemergence of the male nude into the mainstream visual arts. Although styles differed, the male nude was becoming more and more visible.
I work almost totally in black and white. I enjoy removing the image one step out of reality where the textural, sculptural and sensual qualities of light on the body come into focus. It elevates the scene out of the ordinary color-filled world we are accustomed to and compels the viewer to look differently at the image.
And the image is the male nude. The male body is an amazing creation – a sensual machine of power, grace and beauty. I want to capture these powerful images in intimate moments. This is my art.
Books featuring Jeff Palmer
The Male Nude -- David Leddick
Naked Men Too – David Leddick
Visions – Contemporary Male Nude Photography --
Male Bonding One -- David Sprigle
Male Bonding Two – David Sprigle
BeachBoys – Studio Magazine
Bad – Studio Magazine
Night Visions - Bruno Gmunder
Magazines featuring Jeff Palmer
Calendars – yearly since 1988
Monograph Books by Jeff Palmer