The German photographer living in Munich keeps impressing us with his photographs taken from above and his unique way to immortalize the Earth beauty. While offering breathtaking pictures, the visual artist and graphic designer also wishes to focus our attention on the sometimes deplorable, sometimes beautiful consequences of human life in nature. His aesthetic and outstanding masterpieces are genuinely committed and give us many relevant information about our vast home. We’ve met him.

Which path led you to be a photographer?

I studied Communication Design in Germany and in the United Kingdom from 2011 and until 2017. Photography was part of my studies, but it was always a passion besides that. I started off with classic (not to say «romantic») landscapes photography but soon realized that those sugarcoated shots do not represent their real environment. So I began to question the term «Landscaping». As a consequence, I now focus on landscapes that show the impact of human presence on earth.

Does your job as a graphic designer influence your photography?

I guess people may recognize my graphic design background in my images, as a lot of my photos are based on some visual art rules like the colour contrast, the rule of thirds or building up patterns. Our need to arrange everything geometrically to regulate and have control makes us all, in a sense, to creative designers of our environment. I see myself as a visual journalist, framing the creative output of our society.

You take striking pictures of landscapes and people, but you mostly focus your work with impressive aerial shots…

Yes, I mainly focus on aerial photography because it is a compelling way to document the human presence’s influences on earth. My work is very much research driven, and I like to inspire people by telling stories through aerial photography. There are two main reasons why I choose to photograph from the air. First of all – you just see more. High provides an overview of a subject that wouldn’t be really visible from the ground. Second, I like the fact that I can create proximity by stepping away from the object. It’s a powerful contrast.

For my projects, I use various techniques like helicopters, small planes, hot air balloons or quadrocopters to get my projects done. For me it’s not really about the tool I’m using, it’s mainly the story and concept behind the photos. I spend more time doing research than getting the photos or concerning about the technique.

What inspires you to create a new series?

I am interested in the concept of the Anthropocene. It is a term used by scientists suggesting that humans, in the recent centuries, have become one of the most important factors influencing the biological, geological and atmospheric processes on Earth. Some of the most significant changes in the Anthropocene include climate change, the ozone hole in the Antarctic, rapidly rising sea levels, and landscape changes caused by river shifts or the degradation of raw materials.

In my photography, I explore the origin and scale of that idea to understand the dimensions of humans intervention in natural spaces and to direct attention toward how we can take responsibility. There are many untold stories on this subject, and I would like to keep the focus on the overall topic of the relationship between people and nature.

Do you have any upcoming project?

I am preparing for a trip to Greenland right now, and I am already very excited about it. I would like to document the effect of global warming on the Arctic ice sheet. It’s gonna be tough to go to the places I want to shoot, but I am optimistic to reach them.

Follow Tom Hegen on Instagram and his website.