What I Have to Say: Elise Hanna



If you asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up, I’d have told you from a young age “interior designer.” I worked nights- waiting tables- until my arms ached to pay for art school so that I could create “home” for people.

I hit the real world and I skidded into a surprising reality: the home of your dreams can not be designed, it must be built. And I don’t mean in an architectural sense; I mean in a heart-and-soul, tears-and-laughter sense. A home is built when paths are worn in carpets and scuff-marks are dashed on walls. I began to believe in the discovery of spaces and not merely in the design of them, because those are the imperfect places that fall into the crevices of our memory and can’t be swept away.

It was only once I began to wear those paths in our own home, late at night with my own wide-eyed babies, that I began to see the light in our home and not just the space. And I photographed it. We’ve moved many times since then. I’ve met a lot of people from all around the world and I’ve visited many homes. Many are far from perfect, but we find the light in them all the same and wear our own paths until they eventually read simply as home.

In all my travels, the one thing that has remained consistent with my work has been the definition of home. From our current home in India, I continue to be most fascinated by how people live- not in how differently they live, but instead by how much the same home or family looks wherever we go. It’s filled with pride, the sharing of food and laughter. It isn’t always filled with furniture and, in fact, sometimes doesn’t even have walls. Home is flesh and the love that surrounds it.

Too many designers and photographers are hung up in creating and photographing perfect spaces, perfect people. Less is so much more. I’ve lived in three countries in four years and I’ve learned that no matter where you are in the world, a home is more than four walls and light can find beauty in unexpected places.

– Elise | Elise Hanna

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(Image of Elise by Meghan Boyer)

Our “What I Have to Say” Wednesday series features established photographers and artists with messages they just can’t keep inside. Authentically and honestly, our writers share words of wisdom to challenge, encourage, and inspire.


One thought on “What I Have to Say: Elise Hanna

  1. Wow! So poetic. I love the begining where she talks about what she thought that she wanted to be but through learned and soul searching discovering the world in an opposite way creating so much meaning and depth in her life.

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