“Both diversity & authenticity can only happen through a more total representation of the point of production.” – HEX.

“Both diversity & authenticity can only happen through a more total representation of the point of production.” – HEX.

Studying the lives of human beings through the lens of commercial media, New York HEX is committed to telling the stories of real people with undeniable authenticity.

Talking with IMAGO about some of their memorable projects and the creativity behind the shoots, HEX is dedicated to storytelling in its purest form. Casting their muses through a more anthropological approach, they find the story first and photography without filter. Fighting for these ideals to be a more prominent creative process within the industry, learn how they are striving for diversity, equality and legitimacy. 

 

Read the full interview as part of our IMAGO Creative launch below:

What is HEX?

Is/was a study of human beings. Where they live & now essentially how they work. How they are versus how they get presented. We started in 2013 as a side project focused on what we called the “Trojan Horse” idea of getting real human beings into commercial media. The artists in us got to see that happen on some big campaigns. That was the project arc.

HEX
Photo: HEX

We bootstrapped a collection fit to license we are proud of. Both of us are immigrants in New York (admittedly sad, boring, working class European ones) All we wanted to see were photographs of the people on our block, who we shared our desks with, who we grew up with.

IMAGO / HEX
Photo: IMAGO / HEX

Now HEX is focused on direct client production & examining humans that way. The word of work is changing obviously but never ceases to fascinate. Emphasis on “world” – we get to find different streets to shoot on & show now.

HEX
Photo: HEX

Authenticity & Diversity in Stock Photography –  discuss.

Still highly problematic. Not helped I don’t think by the bigger stock houses using these important issues as props or brand marketing vehicles.

The reality is that the bulk of commercial stock is from a tiny percentage of people who shoot what has historically sold for a group of editors that rarely change. It’s FM radio. The disconcerting reality is what still sells.

We can only tell our own story and we did that. Both diversity & authenticity can only happen through a more total representation of the point of production. Not something that can be fixed from a cubicle & a “Visual Trend Report” 

You see that more in the less evil parts of social media. The different eyes and approach to curation. It’s not unfiltered, it’s presented in brilliant ways. The tech is already probably out there that eliminates the need for the “big box” stock houses and their “SKUs”. Shopify over Big Box retail etc, sourced via social. Not sure we need mass aggregation too much longer.

The single biggest issue in “stock” right now is “how do you compensate that  individual creator?”  I see that as the biggest barrier. How do you open the gates & how does the cream rise & get compensated? If you are a big player or even a newbie burning through funding, stop draping & start paying. Exist for the contributor not the enterprise plan.

 

Any particular shoots that stand out for you?

When your approach is a bit “guerilla” there are many stories I can’t share here. Ha.

2 favorites. A memorable 2 days in Philly where we literally did 6 shoots – across the board. No greater joy than being at the point of production. The biggest thing is spending time around people you would never, ever meet. There’s a bigger lesson in that right?  

HEX
Photo: HEX
IMAGO / HEX
Photo: IMAGO / HEX
IMAGO / HEX
Photo: IMAGO / HEX
HEX
Photo: HEX

Another one. The very first shoot. Recall giving a fairly drunken speech and a great plate of crew pasta that people still talk about. It’s holding up pretty well I think considering this was 2013.

HEX
Photo: HEX

Anything you think that sets HEX apart?

Casting. We took a slightly “anthropological” approach. We find the story first. Scenes & pockets of people who know each other.

I’ve heard a few times, “those people would never be a couple” where I have to reply, “Well, they are. They are married, that is their apartment. They just had a HEX baby!”

HEX
Photo: HEX
IMAGO / HEX
Photo: IMAGO / HEX

If you see a musician I promise you it’s a musician. If you see a Mother & Son, the same.

What’s a great HEX project these days?

A big organization being idiosyncratic & vulnerable?  Human?

It’s still the “trojan horse” idea I guess. It’s still no drama production & fun at the point of production.

Most “custom” production settles on “good enough” – we certainly don’t want to be farming those fields.

Would love longer term projects focused on the work and the employee experience. Not executives folding their arms outside a glass box.

HEX
Photo: HEX
HEX
Photo: HEX
HEX
Photo: HEX

Browse HEX‘s photography on IMAGO or visit their Website and Instagram.

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