Glenn Poulain - Underwater Photography

Matt Tuohy
By Matt Tuohy
Friday - September 26, 2008
Glenn Poulain


Glenn Poulain - Underwater Photography

What started out as a way to show his kids what he saw while scuba diving turned into a lucrative art business for underwater photographer Glenn Poulain. His crystal-clear images of what lives beneath the waves of Hawaii’s waters are a great example of underwater photography at its finest.

Poulain took up photography by avoiding the vehicle that brought him to it. An avid golfer, he spent much his time on the links until a friend of his wife offered to teach him scuba. “Believe it or not, I had no interest in it,” he admits. “I was like, ‘No I really don’t want to do that. I’m having fun. These golf courses are beautiful. I’m in heaven out here.’”

But the friend’s persistence paid off, and Poulain was in the water eating, or drinking, his own words. “I did it, loved it, went through all the courses, got my dive master (certification) and started shooting right away.”

Poulain’s portfolio consists of underwater scenes and sea creatures, the best of his work coming from his favorite subject, the honu (turtle).“The more you dive, the more you become aware of each species and their personalities,” Poulain explains. “The honu, I think, is fairly curious. They seem to be a fairly calm creature. They go about their lives and don’t really care if you’re there.” This is seen in several of his images where turtles glide through their weightless environment or are spotted taking a rest on a bed of coral, ignoring the photographer and his camera.

Even though Poulain is known for his underwater shots, he also is known to take some landscapes and nature photos on land. Bellows Beach.

What Poulain admits is missing from his vast collection of images are the giant mammals that visit the Islands every winter - humpback whales. “I think that’s my No. 1 goal,” he says, “to dive and photograph some of the humpback whales that come through here. But that’s kind of a long shot seeing as they’re highly protected. It would be the best accident ever, though.”

Poulain also dabbles in landscape and nature photography on land, preferring to stay away from development and people. “I think people lose sight of the beauty around us,” he says. “You know, Hawaii does offer us a lot of beautiful nature, both on land and in the sea. It’s beautiful. It’s pure. If we enjoy it for what it is, it might make our hearts a little lighter.”

Even though Poulain is known for his underwater shots, he also is known to take some landscapes and nature photos on land. At Peace

View samples of Poulain’s work at, or check out the Morning Brew coffee house in Kailua where his works hang until Oct. 3. His work also will soon decorate the Outrigger Reef hotel in Waikiki.


I Love Art Gallery

With the art scene in Hawaii on the rise and more people showing up to first and last Fridays, third Thursdays, second Saturdays and so on, it can be easy to get lost - especially if you are new to the scene and have no idea what to look for in a work of art.

Fortunately, the Hawaii State Art Museum (HiSAM) has come to the rescue with its new gallery, I Love Art, devoted to teaching basic artistic concepts through sight, sound and touch. “The umbrella concept of the I Love Art Gallery is ‘The Elements of Art and Design,’” says the museum’s exhibit specialist, Andrew Neuman. “Although the elements are often disputed or interpreted differently, we have confidently chosen to explore six categories: point, line, shape and form, color, space, and texture.”

Even though Poulain is known for his underwater shots, he also is known to take some landscapes and nature photos on land. A shot of an octopus.

Activities are an important part of I Love Art that you won’t see at any of the galleries in Chinatown. An example would be constructing a sculpture using PVC pipe like in Mamoru Sato’s Twister 1 and Rotor 1 - both are currently on display in the museum.

“Playing is an important part of discovery,” says Neuman.“It allows artists to incorporate new materials in fascinating ways and create interesting compositions with common or familiar resources. The activities encourage visitors to use their imagination as they explore structure, design and balance.”

The new gallery uses examples of art currently displayed in the museum’s Diamond Head Gallery

The exhibit occupies a 450-square-foot room and can comfortably accommodate 25 people at once, says Neuman. He also maintains that although the gallery is meant to help viewers understand and appreciate the art on display, it is not the main attraction to the museum.

“The I Love Art Gallery is not the showstopper - it is a complement to what is on view in our galleries,” he says. “It is a great place to start or end your time at the museum in an exciting, multileveled, self-guided learning environment. You should come if you are interested in art and want to know more about how artists work.”

The two exhibitions currently on display are ACCESSION and Intertwine. “It is a great mix of old and new, with some pieces of considerable size and presence that were recently acquired by the HSFCA (Hawaii State Foundation Culture and the Arts),” says Neuman. “The works on view here interpret and represent Hawaii in a way that is both accessible and challenging to local and non-local visitors alike.”

HiSAM is located in the No. 1 Capitol District Building on Hotel Street in Honolulu. For more information on the exhibits or the museum, call 586-0300 or visit

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