"I knew from the beginning that I was going to focus on physique photography," says photographer Chris Teel. "I discovered I was inspired by the male form when I stumbled across a couple of old Playgirl magazines as a teenager and I remember thinking, at that point, that being a Playgirl photographer would be a dream job. Personally, I believe you should shoot what moves you. I could take pretty pictures of vases, or shoot weddings but if I am not personally inspired by the subject matter I believe that's going to show in the final result."
After 17 years as a senior manager for a telecommunication company, Teel decided to follow his heart, explore his creativity and focus on photography. "It was a decision I'd been considering for a while," he says. "I was feeling an urge to make a few changes in my life - it had become a little too predictable, a bit routine. I was beginning to wonder if I could see myself working in a corporate environment for another 20 years. I was feeling the need to create but I wasn't sure what that looked like. I can't sculpt, I can't draw and I don't paint but I always had a talent for photography, having dabbled in it over the years. I also decided I needed to pack up, sell my condo and move clear across the country to a city I'd only visited once before. Sometimes I tend to leap rather than take small steps."
He also didn't hesitate to follow his preferences, for almost a decade he has concentrated on photographing men, and developing an aggressive and sexy style. "What I thought the perfect man was when I started shooting models is a lot different than what I think he is now," he says "I've shot hundreds of models over the past decade, I have worked with guys with different body types and dramatically different personalities. Every guy I've shot had at least one physical imperfection he wanted to improve upon, whether I noticed it or not. The perfect man, in my opinion, projects the confidence he feels whether he has an eight-pack body or not. He's able to project a certain cockiness, without being arrogant. He has opinions and is able to articulate his thoughts. Most importantly, he is easy going and good natured."
Teel's mission is to "bring out the model's personality in the photos. I am often one of the first photographers a lot of these guys have posed for and one of my goals is to ensure they have a good experience, especially as a lot of them are also posing nude for their first time. We negotiate everything up front, before the shoot, to avoid any surprises at the shoot itself. Where it makes sense, we'll incorporate their specific interests or ideas - it's a great way of getting them engaged in the process and often, the final result tends to better than the original idea."
The results speak for themselves. Teel's photographs have a common thread of masculine attractiveness but across a broad spectrum. "Personally I am not attracted to a one type of guy," he says. "First impressions are influenced by the physical but if the personality is not there, I lose interest very quickly. Professionally, I also shoot a diverse group of guys. However, I do have to keep my audience in mind – they certainly respond to some guys more than others and that's the way it is."