Photographer: Konstantin Himonakis
SEASONS // CINEMA // PHOTOGRAPHY
A MOMENT WITH…
PHOTOGRAPHER KONSTANTIN HIMONAKIS
I initially met fellow photographer Konstantin Himonakis online in 2012, but it was only a matter of time before we were having good & lively discussions in person over coffee in his home city Nürnberg. With knowledge of Konstantin’s fine, atmospheric photography as well as love for cinema, I was excited to pursue a dialogue on these & related topics with him. Enjoy. ~ Annika
I am just going to dive right in with one of my favorite topics- seasons. What is your favorite season for your type of work & why?
As my type of work mostly happens outdoors, my favourite type of season is Spring. It combines the beauty of nature waking up again after the winter with wonderful colours & as I am doing people photography, the temperatures are nice and moderate, for my models & for me too. I don’t like freezing!
You live in a city with 4 distinct seasons. Does the changing of the seasons influence your creativity & style in any way?
Yes, of course. Having 4 distinct seasons is a fact I grew up with & is definitely a part of my imagination. On the one hand, every single season gives me a different mood & inspiration, e.g. the positive perspective of spring, when nature & life is evolving, the happiness & joy of summer, the beautiful colours of autumn with a slight melancholy & then the cold, maybe depressing, but also clean winter. On the other hand, from a practical point of view, I can use the same location 4 times a year & get totally different results.
The merging of the mundane & the imaginative is, to me, a central part of film as well as the focal part of work for many artists. I know from prior dialogue that film has had an influence on you & in my perception your photography has a rich, cinematic feel to it too. How does cinema relate to your craft & affect your perception?
For me, cinema & photography are the same, more or less. A film consists of many, many single frames, shown one after the other. Of course, there is much more to a film than that, but basically speaking, a film director has to look at things like a photographer. It’s about images. As far as I remember, cinema has influenced my imagination & perception since I was a child. I remember watching “Star Wars – A New Hope” in 1977 at the age of 10. I was so impressed, that I couldn’t get the pictures out of my mind. It was such a great visual impression, I couldn’t sleep for days. One year later, I started taking photographs & I remember always doing a little cinema in my head. I liked taking shots & after having them developed, looking at them & starting a film in my imagination. Today it is quite similar, but now I often see the film in my mind first, then I take the picture & then maybe I continue with my cinematic thing while looking at the picture.
In our prior dialogue you named some particular favorites- “Stanley Kubrick, esp. 2001 – A Space Odyssey, Full Metal Jacket, Barry Lyndon, Eyes Wide Shut, Ridley Scott, esp. Blade Runner, Alien, Black Rain & of course … The Matrix !!!” It’s interesting as a fellow photographer to look at your list & revisit memories of viewing some of these films & remember the visual impacts as thread with the story line. Eyes Wide Shut, for example, is a film I have seen numerous times & each time provides a very engaging & even complex visual experience (as do others on your list). What is it about these particular films you have named that left such an impression?
I watched Kubrick’s “2001 – A Space Odyssey” the first time at the age of 15 or 16 & I must confess that I didn’t really understand it. But I was so deeply impressed by the visual power & purity, combined with this congenial music, that I went out of the cinema & couldn’t get my mouth closed. Since then, I’ve seen this film many times & even now I don’t understand it completely. But what I understood is that that’s alright. A film is not made to give you answers. No, a good film gives you questions & makes you think about it every now & then, for a long time. “2001” changed my approach completely. It’s quite the same with Ridley Scott’s “The Blade Runner.” At the end it leaves me with a bunch of questions & nobody but me can answer them. Because everyone has different, individual answers. Kubrick’s “Barry Lyndon” I love because of its visual beauty, nearly every frame is like a Turner painting. And, of course, just like in most of Kubrick’s films, its perfect symmetry. That is a thing that indeed has had a great influence on my photographic work, although I’m not doing pictures only with symmetry.
I can’t help but think of Kubrick specifically on your list, as we embark on this interview on Halloween & my favorite film of his is “The Shining.” I find myself completely immersed in the subtle & eerie 1st portion of the film but then disengaged towards the chaotic & more “horror like” latter part of the film. Still, I can recognize the value of every segment in the entire story & film’s construction. I would say some other films on your list have a certain surreal & jarring aspect.
Well, “The Shining” isn’t my favourite Kubrick film, but of course I’ve watched it & it has all the elements I described before, that are distinctive for Kubrick’s work. Yes indeed, there are some films on my list with a surreal or jarring aspect. Things get out of (the symmetrical) control in many Kubrick films, like in “2001,” “Full Metal Jacket,” “A Clockwork Orange” or in “Eyes Wide Shut.” I believe it is just like in real life. Nothing in real life always goes straight and symmetrical, there’s always a portion of chaos & horror. And a lot of unanswered questions.
Aesthetics, atmosphere & location are central aspects in many story lines. Do you find yourself “unwinding a story” in the process of creating the photo or well before you begin shooting?
As I said before, I mostly unwind a story in my photography. But I never restrict myself in the method how to do that. Sometimes I have ideas and stories in my head before shooting, but if I haven’t, then I just wait until shooting the picture & hope that the story will then appear. And if it doesn’t, well, better luck next time!