Lee Poulin of Steel Photographs is gifted at finding the perfect natural light to bring out the best in his subjects. He also knows that he helps these men see themseleves, often in a new light. We asked him to tell us about his work:
"My interest in phototherapy started years ago when I would just use a point and shoot camera with absolutely no idea what I was doing. I always had an eye for composition, but I never really understood how to take a photo. About 3 years I invested in a good camera and starting teaching myself about photography. I asked friends of mine to shoot so that I could practice as much as possible and keep playing with ideas. I asked other photographers about what they did to start, what programs they used, what equipment they felt I needed...and I went from there."
"Being a gay man, I was obviously drawn to the male form. I absolutely love how light can enhance it so beautifully. Almost everything I shoot is in natural light. While I have shot some great images with artificial lighting, and I have seen some incredible images from other photographers, something about the outcome of the naturally lit photos really stood out to me. It was also much easier to just hop on the subway with my camera bag to shoot somewhere."
"The Black Tie Optional sort of came out of nowhere. I had seen sock garters in an image once and I just thought there was something about them that felt really sexy. Rather than just checking on Amazon, I was hunting for them in the city, and discovered this amazing store in Hell's Kitchen called Fine and Dandy. They sold them there, so I bought a pair and decided to try to shoot this "deconstructed" formal look. Something that had an end of the night feel or the sense of getting ready. I didn't know exactly what It was going to be but I knew what look I was going for. I fell in love with the concept and decided to make it my "signature" look. Something I'd try to get with every model I shoot with. I bring the tie and sock garters with me and always make sure that they have a white dress shirt and black socks. Lately, I've started to explore a more vintage look. I had done one shoot along those lines a couple of years back with John Carroll but it was only recently that I started focusing in on it more. I'm always trying to come up with a new concept to explore."
"When it comes to my shoots I prefer just capturing a model over directing and posing one. I always feel like there's more going on emotionally when there's less direction and specificity. Sometimes I'll tell them to put their leg somewhere or where in the space to go, but I tend to give little specific direction. I don't want the images to look contrived or really set up. I want them to just be sensual and erotic but sexy and tasteful. The more it's forced, the less I find it succeeds in being those things."
"My biggest inspiration has been John Macconnell. He's crazy talented (and super sweet and adorable)! It was conversations with him that gave me the drive to keep working, to post every day, to continue to come up with new ideas, and to push to create your own success. He has completely created an incredible body of work on his own. With numerous published books, and drawing classes that happen monthly, John continues to inspire me and prove that you can do anything if you work at it. Since my talk with him, my following has grown, people are asking to work with me, and I continue to find amazing people willing to push boundaries and run with my ideas."
"Photography has really become something I'm passionate about. It's the creative outlet that's missing in my everyday life. I've met some incredible people, had some fascinating conversations, and developed friendships from shoots. It's always flattering to hear when someone likes your work. That will never get old or stop being meaningful. It's nice to make money doing something you really love to do, and it's always an honor when someone trusts me to put themselves in a vulnerable state and position by letting go of their inhibitions, insecurities, fears and reservations. Above all of this, the biggest plus to what I do is wrapping up a shoot, and being told that the last 60 or 90 minutes gave someone a new found confidence in themselves. That their time working with me made them feel sexy and comfortable with who they are. That, to me is a priceless gift."