• During the past two weeks, Hong Kong’s most stylish residents gathered at The Lee Gardens to have their snapshots taken. These images were then uploaded to where fans could vote for their top 30 favourites, ranging from students and musicians to actors and writers. The winners were then taken to JOYCE The Lee Gardens where they played dress up in the latest arrivals, before posing for New York photographer Erik Madigan Heck. Below is a selection of portraits shot by Heck.

    Erik Madigan Heck on art, fashion and photography

    Although Heck landed in Hong Kong on the morning of the photo session, he appeared fresh, enthusiastic and upbeat. He quickly studied each of his subjects’ individual style and found the perfect spot in the new JOYCE store to capture their unique looks. During the photo session, he chatted with us about art, fashion and photography.

    “I’ve always loved new projects and new challenges. I’ve never been to Asia and therefore I was very excited to see such diverse individual styles in this project. This is almost like a Richard Avedon studio!”

    Different medium, Diverse Style

    Heck recently launched a new book, January to August, which is a collection of his personal photographs and collaborative projects. Although the book is divided into eight sections, it is not organized in chronological order as the title may suggest. Instead he covers a diverse range of topics and styles, providing amazing insight into his successful career and wide portfolio.

    “I don’t consider myself a fashion photographer, I consider myself an artist,” he says. “For fashion images and campaigns, I see myself as a collaborator with the designers. I work as an art director, artist and photographer to find a way to portray the designers’ essence and style.”

    As a result , each of his images capture an unseen side of a designer’s personality or work, as seen in his image of a Dries Van Noten outfit taken in the wilderness to emphasis the designer’s passion for gardening , or Mary Katrantzou’s autumn/winter campaign which features colour-rich images that make the designers digital prints pop (the effect was achieved by layering negatives).

    “I’d like to slow things down. We’re in the digital era, but there’s no point to take a photograph the way that photographers did in the past because you could never do it better than those masters. Since there are now so many fashion photographers, one should find something new to contribute. I choose to combine art and photography; I still use film when taking certain types of photographs and sometimes I even paint on a photograph to create a beautiful image by crossing two mediums. I spend about five to six weeks on each project.”

    This comes as a surprise considering that he only had two days to work on the JOYCE Cast Your Vote portraits. The hard work he says is worth it.

    “I’ve always loved new projects and new challenges. I’ve never been to Asia and therefore I was very excited to see such diverse individual styles in this project. This is almost like a Richard Avedon studio!”
    With so many new photographers coming to the fore, how does Heck continue to distinguish himself from the other creatives out there?

    “There are two types of photographers,” he says matter-of-factly. “One is the Terry Richardson type, who is already a celebrity in his own right; the other uses his skills to enhance the spirit of the subject. I’d like to be in the latter category.”

    About Erik Madigan Heck
    New York-based photographer Erik Madigan Heck was born in Excelsior in 1983, and earned his Masters of Fine Arts in Photography and Film Related Studies from Parsons School of Design in New York. His fashion photography explores various photographic genres at once, with an emphasis on art history. His fashion clients include Ann Demeulemeester, Haider Ackermann, Giambattista Valli and Valentino, while his work has been published in The New York Times Magazine, The New Yorker, Newsweek and Vision Magazine (China). His work has been recognised with awards including PDN’s Top 30 Photographers to Watch and the National Scholastic Gold Medal award for Achievement in the Arts. He is currently the creative director and acting editor of his own magazine, Nomenus Quarterly.