I’ve seen a great many shots of frame builders in my time. The shots have ranged from contemplative portrait in order to portray the builder as a thoughtful artisan to military-bent badass to convey the attitude that metal will submit. Most action shots of a builder end up seeming of a piece: shots that no matter how carefully framed, no matter how perfectly exposed, end up draining the life and dynamism from a device that is anything but static.
The shot above of Mark DiNucci is the shot that leads on his web site. It’s also my favorite portrait of a builder I’ve ever seen. The guy is in motion, and because he’s reaching for one of the torch’s tanks to make an adjustment, it serves as a reminder that there’s more to brazing steel than just heating a joint and pushing in silver or brass. And as he reaches—one foot off the bare shop floor—his balance makes the move look practiced, routine, even elegant. Yet all the while that torch is burning, with the business end carefully aimed between bench and body.
Then there’s the fact that he’s got long, unkempt hair and a wool sweater straight from Scandinavia. The dude is counterculture, a—gasp—hippie. With the frame clamped in the bench vise mounted at the end of his flat table and a universal bevel protractor in the foreground, we are reminded that frame building isn’t sexy. It doesn’t require a bunch of fancy tools. It’s metal, heat and geometry. End of story.