Frederik Heyman captures photos that keep you mesmerized for hours. A graphic designer by trade, he some how stumbled upon his photography career.01 Magazine interviews Frederik about his life and work.
Where are you from?
Tell me about the school in Antwerp? Does its honorability precede itself?
I suppose you mean the Antwerp Academy? It’s funny how internationally the school is known as “The School of Antwerp” I didn’t study at the fashion school – it’s separated from the other departments – but I’ve seen many of my friends pass through. I believe the Antwerp Fashion Department is a place for character to develop in an intense way….the program is 4 years.
The strength of the school relies heavily on the international cotingence, a very strict selection is made from a wide range of students all over the world. Approximately 60 students start in first year, and after 4 years 15 driven people – attain their goals in study.
What is unique about Antwerp?
Antwerp has many things to offer, internationally it’s known for fashion because in the last 20 years we have a huge legacy of established fashion designers. Antwerp is quite small compared to its level of activity. What’s so great about this city is the way it interacts so smoothly.
Do you consider Antwerp a fashion city?
It’s not only fashion, it’s the whole creative scene nowadays which acts as a crossover to create new ways of communicating.
I’m really fond of the city not only to work in but also as a home base. You stay with what you know, all the special places and contacts in a city where you grew up.
Tell me about the development of your work from graphic design to photography?
Well that could take forever, ha ha. For me working is an inevitable process. Graphic design was a good starting point; I liked the idea of getting to work through concepts, deadlines and graphic techniques. At school I focused on illustration. This is still a basic skill for me. I see myself as an illustrator, telling stories utilizing different media. At the moment my chosen mediums are photography and video. My creative process begins always in the same place, but the outcome is always different.
After my masters program in graphic and illustration design I felt the need to focus on photography. I love the speed the medium provides and it became a viable option to document the action or stories I wanted to tell. It’s not the individual picture for me or the technique that’s important, but rather its the action, how that action is created and a collage of the two elements creates different ideas and concepts. All this comes together at one single point after a long and intense process.
Were you always interested in fashion?
No, but it’s hard to avoid the confrontation in a town like Antwerp. Fashion is not my main focus, but it’s an interesting field to work in. You’re always challenged to tell your own story, but still maintain a balance with the designer’s ideas.
Can you tell us the story happening in the woods, with the deer and the guys in white underwear?
Well those pictures are in the past for me. I’m not really feeling the concept any more. I made the series a few years ago, it came about as a practice, I recall it being so intense and animated. I felt inspired by the night-time atmosphere. I had with me a set of portable flashlights and went in the forest with my lamps. It was hard to find models to pose in their underwear in the middle of winter, so I stripped down and duplicated my image several times.
Did you use synchronized swimmers to do the umbrella photos in the lake for Hendrik Vibskov?
The swimmers are friends of mine, and models from Antwerp. The shot was taken at 4:00 in the morning in an abandoned lake outside Antwerp. The synchronization itself was more a matter of using the right magic tools.
How did this collaboration come about with Hendrik Vibskov?
The collaboration was super nice and refreshing. We had some contact before the shoot about the atmosphere and the story on which I should base my series. He came over one day to view the setting.
Do you think photography is more about being technical and less about talent?
I believe the two cannot be separated easily, it’s not so black and white. There is such a variety of ways to apply photography: technical pack shots, documentary, fashion, or combinations of these applications and a thousand more variations. For my photography, it’s less about technique and more about the action you want to present.
Are you interested in other forms of arts besides photography and design?
Yes: in painting, movies and animation, also monumental and conceptual art.
Do you have any collaborations coming up?
Plans are made for the next few months, but my favorite idea now is to work on my own stuff. I’m making a series of short movies centered on the people I admire and whose work I appreciate, I will create a nice collage of ideas and energy.
Have you ever shown in any art shows?
Not any big ones.
When are you most happy with your work?
In the production phase, then when the finished product is accurate to my sketches. I have highly detailed sketches and ideas of the image I want to make. Sometimes it’s a hard puzzle to solve in finding a way to realize it.
Have you ever been to Canada or the United States?
Not longer than a day.
How would you describe your current work?
My work is always changing. A few years ago I was deeply interested in the surreal or uncanny atmosphere of photography, creating a more visual effect. This was often done digitally or was heavily dependant on the lighting and location. Last year I was reaching the point of creating what I wanted, but building the sets to give this impression can take weeks for one series of pictures. I don’t overwork my images much any more except to make the necessary retouches. I’m focused more on the live action and the concept. I want to create a pictorial idea of graphical shapes. Most of the time I can stylize a basic element or idea and start building on that. My concepts have no boundaries, and I work 24/7 to find a way to create them.