This artwork by Emil Handke is now available as a limited edition, 18x12" print through our shop. I asked Emil a couple questions about his work.
You've made a lot of photographs at night. What draws you to photographing in the dark?
The short answer is that night makes me uncomfortable. And I want to confront those feelings. The longer answer is more nuanced. After about three months of making photographs for this current series, I became discontent with the images I was making. They didn't have the feel I wanted. The series was dealing with my early childhood and some of the struggles that came with it. I wanted the images to have a dark, somewhat haunting tone to them. So I started experimenting with making images at night. At the same time, I began to make myself write more, to confront some of the issues of my early childhood. As I did this, I realized that much of what happened to me occurred during the night. So I turned my focus on making photographs in the dark of night.
It sounds like your creative process is aligned for you with your own personal development. Do you think photography can help make you a better person?
Yes. Absolutely. But if you would have asked me this two years ago, I would have a very different answer. For the first few years making photographs, I felt like I was wandering, not knowing what I was looking for. I didn't know what my portrait work meant. I was frustrated and tired of just making images and sharing them to social media. So I began to ask myself some questions. Questions that sometimes weren't fun to answer. Why am I making photographs? Is this something that I have to do? What am I trying to say with what I am making? Why portraits? What is the goal? Am I doing this only for likes and recognition? Or is there something more to what I am doing? These were difficult questions. I really had to be honest with myself. I am glad I did, because it made me reevaluate things and change my approach. This is part of what led to my transition away from just making photographs and focus more on long term projects. I wanted to make work that meant something more. Something that asked questions. This is how my first series, "In the Silence of the Night Sky," started. I began to look at my early childhood and figure out how and why it shaped me. Taking a long look at questions and attempting to make something visual out of it is a difficult task, but one that is rewarding. For me, this series has been a good step toward understanding why I am the way I am. By forcing myself to confront issues of my past, I am taking a step toward healing. There is more I could say, but this is one of the main ways making photographs has help me to become a better husband, father, and person.
Emil Handke is a photographer based in Louisville, KY. See more of Emil's work at http://www.emilhandke.com/