Interview By Chantelle Simmons
You may recognize Lee Bullitt from season two of the Peculiar Kind web series, but there’s more the Harlem native is known for. She is a rising visual artist with a keen personal style. ELIXHER caught up with Bullitt to discuss the purpose behind her work, upcoming projects, fashion, and more.
ELIXHER: What inspired you to pick up a camera?
LEE: Photography has always been a way for me to connect with people in a way that I wasn’t raised to. In my household people were super secretive, and photography was my way of going against that and finding a way to connect with people again and find out their stories and talk to them about mine.
ELIXHER: Who is your favorite photographer?
LEE: I’m not sure actually. I pull from so many different artists, so I’m not 100 percent sure. Francesca Woodman and Annie Leibovitz off the top of my head are my two favorite female photographers because they’re great examples of female photographers that completely own their craft.
ELIXHER: What do you aim to do with your photography?
LEE: I’m more of a narrative fine arts photographer, so I really want to tell stories in my photos. I want create a world for the people that are in it and for there to be a story being told. When I think about doing a project, I want it to kind of lay itself out not like actual photos but more like storyboards for films.
ELIXHER: Favorite project?
LEE: Hmm, my favorite would probably be one of my biggest I did a while ago in October 2013. It was called died 0f dream. I basically created this world inside of an apartment and put up a lot of different material, and placed this girl basically inside of a plastic world. We had this whole talk about nightmares. I found the perfect art model. We totally understood each other. It was kind of like a dark dream scenario.It looked like what I thought in my mind and what I dreamt about. It was an incredible project and it was really time-extensive. The editing process didn’t take as long which I enjoyed because I do not like editing as I want everything to be as close to the natural photo as possible.
ELIXHER: Any upcoming projects?
LEE: Yes. One called 24 where I follow subjects for twenty-four hours on a day that is important to them or leading up to something important, and I’ll take portraits of them. Kind of like lifestyle photography, but I want to exaggerate the scenarios a bit. The other is just about women called 2014 and I just want it to be a progress book of portraits of women as they’re changing throughout the year.
ELIXHER: As a queer woman of color, have there been any challenges for you in the photography industry?
LEE: I think it’s a double-sided coin. On one hand, living in New York I feel like I have a lot more options as people are so naturalized to certain things here. Being a queer woman of color helps me promote my work more. But in some respects, if you’re coming from a fine arts background, everything is still like the good ol’ boys club. Most art museums art is by men, and it kind of hurts your credibility to be a female artist sometimes unless you have a male partner or male supporter behind you.
ELIXHER: Any advice for aspiring photographers?
LEE: Just do it. You don’t have to be extremely diligent. Some people find it easier to take photos and post them on Instagram everyday just to get their work out there. You can get a lot of good feedback from that. But if you want to be a photographer and get paid to do it, and it’s something that you have a passion for, you have to do it everyday. I walk around with a camera whether I’m shooting or not to keep my frame of mind in place. If I’m not taking photos everyday, I feel pretty shitty.
ELIXHER: Of course we can’t have an interview with you without discussing your personal style. What inspires it?
LEE: I’m not sure. I’m a fan of color, I just can’t wear it. I feel like color or interesting patterns is suitable for people who are like brown or dark skin, and I’m kind of high yellow and I like black. It’s more on the side of androgynous inspired by dark, long patterns and intricate work.
To see more of Lee’s work, log onto her site leebullitt.com.
Chantelle Simmons is an up-and-coming writer from Charleston, South Carolina. She is a senior at the College of Charleston who enjoys people-watching and discussing the world in which she lives from an informed perspective. Chantelle majors in communication with a specialization in journalism, enjoys writing about social and cultural trends, fashion, music, and alternative approaches to life. She has contributed to multiple campus publications as a staff writer and runs a personal blog.