August 30 2014

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What The Heck


Giambattista Valli, Dries Van Noten, Haider Ackermann, Ann Demeulemeester—those are just a few of the heavy hitters photographer Erik Madigan Heck has worked with over the past few years. It’s no wonder those big names are knocking at his door. Just take a look at the images from his hyper-colored Surreal Planes series with Mary Katrantzou (Janice Alida is wearing a Fall 2011 runway look). The anthology and corresponding exhibition feature his work from the past eight months (including images from his Artist as Muse series for A Magazine, where he is a regular contributor). spoke with Heck about art, fashion, and playing hooky during NYFW.

What do you find interesting about fashion as a photography subject?
That it is malleable; it can become anything, or be a catalyst to do anything else with it.

Tell me a little bit about your working methods. How, for example, did you achieve the high-pigmented color look in those portraits you did for Mary Katrantzou?
My working methods are pretty simple; I like to have a small closed set, one assistant, natural light, and an outside or small studio space. On Mary Katrantzou, that’s a secret, but it’s not how you would think.

What kind of camera do you use?
I use an old Canon EOS 630 film camera.

Tell me a little bit more about the exhibition/book itself. What’s your favorite image in the series?
The book took two months of hard work in terms of designing and laying out, and then obviously shooting all the work this year was intense, but the book just happened naturally. It felt like the right moment. My favorite works are probably the A Return to Giverny series—I want to live in those photographs.

You mentioned that you were in Belgium this week working on a film for Ann Demeulemeester. What do you like about shooting videos versus photos?
Yes, I was in Antwerp shooting a short super 8mm film for Ann. It’s very exciting. I just got the film stock back and transferred and I’m in love with it. It’s very blown out, and the models look like angels appearing and disappearing. I love working with actual physical motion picture. I don’t see a difference between still photography and motion, I think motion is just an extension of how I see still images anyway.

What future projects are you looking forward to?
I’m shooting for Kenzo in Paris in October, then I’m doing an installation of my work at Joyce in Hong Kong [in October], and then doing another project with Mary Katrantzou.

What do you have on tap for New York fashion week?
I will be in Napa Valley, California, for ten days starting Friday, escaping fashion week in NYC, drinking wine, and being with friends.

January to August book launch and exhibition tonight at Ion Studio, 41 Wooster Street, NYC. For more information, visit

Photos: Courtesy of Erik Madigan Heck

Dept. of Culture