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It takes a keen eye to understand the subtle balance between photography and design, but NYC-based, Taipei-born, Hawaiian-raised, Howard Huang, has embraced both with a deft hand. In the last eight years, Huang’s unique mix of a sharp creative vision and veteran technical prowess has catapulted him to become one of commercial photography’s fastest-rising stars, with his stylish photos gracing an impressive range of media—from magazine covers and celebrity fashion layouts to national advertising campaigns for Fortune 500 companies.

The best word to describe Huang’s trademark style? As he puts it: “moody.” Huang’s photographs create a fantasyland that moves easily from the highly dramatic to the subtly enhanced. His models appear warm and sexy, with a lingering touch of glamour and drama. If nothing else, Huang’s world is a visually arresting one: one look and you’re mesmerized.

“Images with a story behind them are definitely the most interesting,” says Huang. “I am always thinking of a narrative behind the shoot, because I prefer creating images with a powerful emotional impact. It has to be something that makes you feel a sensation: whether it’s sexy or surprising, or even a disgusting feeling. But no matter what, it has to attract the eye instantaneously.”

Huang’s impressive list of client work ranges from commercial product photography for corporations such as Panasonic and Nintendo to national advertisements for Verizon, Southpole, Lot29 and Mecca Femme. He’s also shot celebrities such as: Nicki Minaj, Lil Wayne, Keyshia Cole, Nelly, Ashanti, Busta Rhymes, Wiz Khalifa, Prodigy, Pitbull and many more. His work has appeared in some of the today’s top entertainment publications, including: Seventeen, Teen Vogue, XXL, King, The Source, Smooth, VIBE, URB, Urban Latino, The Village Voice, Billboard, Urban Ink and yours truly, BlackMen mag—among many others. Huang also published a compilation of his work—featuring some of the most beautiful femme models in the game—titled Urban Girls (Taschen).

In the end, it’s the magic of the single image that moves Huang. “Only the photographer really knows what he or she wants out of every image,” he muses. “It’s like you’re a movie director, but for one frame only—and there’s a tale to tell behind every still frame.” He pauses for a moment. “I fell in love with the whole photographic process a long time ago,” he says, “and I just kept on shooting.”

Howard Huang's Sets