When photographer Howard Huang began shopping his fashion
book around New York in 2002 he had no idea he was about to become the master of urban photography. Back then, Huang, originating from Taiwan, thought "urban girls" were just women who lived in the city, explaining, "English is my second language; I was still learning." Nonetheless, when the editor of Black Men
magazine asked if he knew how to shoot sexy women he said, "Sure!" and set about staging the magazine’s voluptuous singers, models, and actresses in fantasies inspired by his love of comic books and anime.
His composite photos feature exotic locales, lush interiors, or the neon-washed nighttime streets of Manhattan. His shapely heroines, including singer Jacki-O
, actress Vida Guerra,
and reality TV stars Hoopz
and Risky Jones
, escape on sleek motorcycles; rob banks with guns drawn and Halliburton cases spilling money; brandish swords like Japanese assassins; conjure fire; hunt big game, and generally kick ass while displaying their own generous posteriors in photos reminiscent of video games. "The trick is to rework an image to enhance my vision, without drawing attention to cheesy Photoshop special effects," says Huang, who studied under advertising photography master Michel Tcherevkoff
. The result is a unique marriage of the new pictorialism with classic glamour photography, and a look at the little known niche market of African-American and Latina bikini models, collectively known as "urban girls."