Round salt ponds, mighty dams, and furrowed forests – the relationship between man and nature is at the heart of Tom Hegen’s work. He entrances us with harmonious symmetry and captivating colors, while using a unique perspective to examine our influence on the planet. Taking to the sky in hot air balloons, helicopters, and prop planes, or using a multicopter drone he constructed to suit his photographic needs, Hegen shows us the world from above.
To Hegen, aerial photography is the only possible medium that can simultaneously portray our civilization and pay tribute to our planet. From this vertical viewpoint, our eyes recognize a soothing order to the chaos. Subsequently, we see that we are also part of this fascinating planet. Hegen teaches us a new way of seeing, following in the footsteps of aerial photography pioneer Georg Gerster, who wrote: “Height provides an overview, and an overview facilitates insight, while insight generates consideration – perhaps.”
The clear lines and right angles in Hegen’s artworks guide our gaze. On the compositions, the artist says: “I always shoot straight down with no perspective. This gives the pictures a high degree of abstraction and blurs the lines between photography and painting.”
This is evident in Salt Series. At first glance, we are uncertain exactly what we are seeing. Then it gradually becomes clearer these are salt evaporation ponds photographed from above and captured in atmospheric compositions. In the series, Tom Hegen shows us places where the boundary between manmade and naturally-formed landscapes intersect. As the water evaporates in the ponds, microorganisms remain, emanating unreal colors.
Tom Hegen shows us the beauty of the earth and also how people have shaped it. This is the common thread that unites all of the works in his oeuvre. Hegen reflects on how mankind interferes with nature, showing us the traces we leave behind. And yet he does this in the most seductive of ways: with beauty, with appealing symmetry, and radiant colors. He challenges us to reflect on what we see.
Tom Hegen was born in 1991 in Königsbrunn, Germany. He studied Graphic Design at the Augsburg University of Applied Sciences. He currently lives and works in Munich. After finishing his studies, he began to focus more and more on photography. Sitting at the window and seeing the earth from above on a long flight from Germany to New Zealand inspired his love for aerial photography. His work focuses on the traces humans leave behind in the environment in order to sustain their way of life. His first photo book Habitat was published in 2018. Hegen’s work has earned him many awards, including the Red Dot Design Award, the German Design Award, and the International Photography Award.