Summer Stories: Photographer Maxwell Poth

Sean & Val recently caught up with Los Angeles-based portrait photographer and photojournalist, Maxwell Poth. Maxwell spent the day with models Daniel Ralph and David Thomas in Malibu for the Sean & Val Summer 2022 campaign, and his photo story is featured in The Zine Vol. 2.

Photo collage from Maxwell's photo shoot in Malibu.

Sean & Val: Tell us about yourself. 

Maxwell: I grew up in Utah, where I was raised Mormon. Growing up queer in the Mormon community eventually led me to pursue photography as an art form, as photographing male bodies and finding beauty in the male form was something I was initially shamed for.

I now work in Los Angeles as a portrait photographer, as well as a photojournalist for Project Contrast, my non-profit organization that amplifies voices of LGBTQ+ youth through the power of storytelling. By contrasting the experiences between rural and urban LGBTQ+ communities across America, Project Contrast educates and celebrates all queer youth in an effort to create better communities and lower the rate of LGBTQ+ youth suicides.

Sean & Val: What inspires you in your work?

Maxwell: I find inspiration in telling stories through the portraits I create. I focus on capturing the essence of the individuals I work with, conveying the feeling of the conversations and laughs we share together on set. I try not to add too much to the portraits I create, focusing mainly on capturing the person. Peter Lindbergh is an influence and inspiration in my work. 

Sean & Val: Tell us about the photoshoot for Sean & Val.

Maxwell: I spent the day with Daniel and David at a secluded beach in Malibu. I've known both of them for years, and we drove together from Los Angeles to the beach where we hung out for the day and played around in the waves with the Sean & Val 2022 collection.  

Sean & Val: Do you have a favorite photo from the shoot?

Maxwell: My favorite photos from the shoot are the series where Daniel and David are wrestling and playing together. It shows my own personal perspective as a photographer, highlighting my focus on creating shapes and forms through body work. 

Photo collage of models in swim briefs from Maxwell Poth photo shoot in Malibu

Sean & Val: Sean & Val is inspired by the sense of friendship within the gay community. What does friendship mean to you?

Maxwell: Friendship means family, which can sometimes come and go, especially when you’re queer. Even if you have a family that is accepting, you still need to have that chosen family because no one is going to understand you more than your chosen family. Things shift in life as you grow, and you have different friendships based on your changing values. A strong friendship will grow alongside each person’s personal growth. Seeing a friendship change and grow over time is a beautiful thing.

You can view his work at | @maxwellpoth, and learn more about Project Contrast at | @projectcontrast