Two blurbs

Today is about sharing two blurbs that caught my attention. I will not immediately comment on them as I prefer sitting with them for a little longer before offering my thoughts. Better yet, my thoughts can already be distilled from many of my previous Monologues, if you give it a good try.

The first quote is from Simon King:

There is little reason to care about a street photograph if all it does is pose questions, offering no resolution. Who are these interesting or mysterious characters? What are their stories? What can we learn from these ideas, often so beautifully presented? It’s all build-up, no payoff; all joke, no punch line. Little continuity, just themes, and iterations. This isn’t inherently a bad thing, but when looking for value in even the best examples of contemporary new wave street photography, it is fleeting at best.

There’s a chance that forty years from now there will be a nostalgic and historic value, which is what we find today in the work made in the 70s/80s, but that will only be true for a fraction of work being produced today; and again in reference to the new wave approach, will we really look back on silhouettes walking through beams of light with a nostalgic twinge? Will “timeless” work really be useful to history when it’s been made not as a documentary of the present but in the mindset of existing nostalgia?

Which ties into a quote from another piece of him, which is also worth the read:

If you are actively searching for anachronisms, then the ultimate body of work does not have the same potential to possess those nostalgic elements when looked back on in fifty years’ time. When classic street photographers worked, they simply looked at what was going on around them. The fashion sensibilities of the time were what they had to work with, not something that especially required being sought out.

I have a bit of a theory that when audiences see an iconic image taken many years ago, it is likely to have stood the test of time in some way or another, and represents something truly special. Images taken today which contain the aesthetic values but not much more have the appearance of having withstood those tests of time, but instead are superficial and empty beyond the aesthetic.

Finally, these few words by Craig Mod struck a nerve:

Do you know this feeling? The not wanting to emerge from the covers feeling? The feeling where so many things in the world are off by a degree here or a degree there and that on their own, each thing is not so bad, but in aggregate, as a whole, all of those degrees add up and conspire to make inside of the covers so much more attractive than the world outside? This is the kind of place I find myself when my mind has tilted ever so slightly. When the weight of life can press a body down.

Which concludes today’s Monologue. Little writing from me but still a recording of what keeps me busy at the moment.

Coming home

Dissipating sunshine makes way for thunderous clouds and vigorous winds. An already bleak light is slowly replaced by ominous darkness. What already was a dreary day is quickly turning into a perilous night. But that’s merely the weather.

The mood, oh my the mood. It could not be more relaxed. Not more sunny. Not a cloud in the sky. No dreariness or peril to be found. Everything is going great.

There’s control over the mind, body and energy. Is it the tunes coming out of my speaker? Or is it the long-overdue workout session from this afternoon? Perhaps it’s the extremely comfortable hoody I dressed myself in. Either way I’m levitating.

The wind is now steadily strengthening as the darkness falls upon the day. What’s that, lightning in de distance? Time to put the phone down. Turn the internet off. Raise the volume of the music. Drink one final beer. Then it’s off to bed. Fully satisfied and succeeded.

Reading through past Monologues

Reading through past Monologues, looking for patterns. Trying to see if any process has been made in the past 200+ days of writing. I’m sure there has, as I can already spot things I would do differently now. I’m not fixing it. The imperfections in my past work are part of the process and I must be glad I’m able to spot them now. I’ll fix a typo here and there of course, but nothing else. I do now know that this book will be a single copy again like the One Two One book. It’s a good collection of writings but it is also turning more and more into a public diary.

Monologue, and to an extent One Two One, are both projects to practice my skills. They aren’t my peak performance and should not be presented as such. Making books is a fun enough process but the true enjoyment comes from holding a physical project of your work. I know I’m repeating myself here but it will be such a joy to have a record of my progress to look at some day.

Staring at the Monologue book page design. That one’s a little more difficult to tackle still. Over the course of the year I’m writing many words but pouring those into a book shape isn’t so easy. Photography comes naturally to me and it’s improving almost automatically now. I just keep pushing to better myself without having to actively try. Writing can be daunting at times but as I’m keeping these Monologues swift and spontaneous, it’s not a task I fear.1

Book-designing is something I’m not at all familiar with. I’ve been paying attention to how others do it but that does not grant you the skills required to make something on your own. It’s also not easy to make these digital-first pieces suitable for print. I’m linking back and forth between pieces and I’m referring to other digital only sources that you just can’t do on a page. I guess I’ll have to find a way to deal with those as I go through it.

It takes a while, and occasionally some staring at a page design, but I’ll get there.

  1. This of course does not apply to larger texts, that require more thought and effort. Those can still be cumbersome and tasking. ↩︎

Hey you, De Lens Loves You too

The past few days I’ve been pondering on my reasoning behind De Lens Loves You. As I’ve mentioned before, there was never a specific plan beyond sharing my work and updating my website. Now that I’ve added some dad hats to the product catalog and have some more ideas on the shelf, I feel like I can turn it into it’s own little branch within my business. Nothing too serious, just something to have some fun with. Which means there’s still no proper plan but I did want to expand on my thoughts a bit.

I know there was something in the back of my mind when I came up with the name. I just haven’t bothered to give any proper words to it. You’ll find my first rough draft below. I’m not sure I’m fully behind all the things I’ve written and it will take a couple of read-throughs and some editing at a later time. For example, I jump into a sales pitch right after a piece about empowerment. It’s a little distasteful and a little cringe. Am I even in a position to say these things at all? I’m not sure yet. It’s also possible this is all nothing more than self-affirmation. Anyway, when I’m satisfied with my thoughts and the general story, it might end up on the productpages as a background story thing, or something like that. We’ll see how things go. Read below:

Hey you.

Yes, you.

I see you.

I see your worth.

You matter, you know that?

You look amazing.

Your ideas are great.

You have value.

Don’t shy away from a little attention ever now and then.

Don’t be afraid of the spotlight.

Don’t think you’re not worth it to be documented. Recorded. Remembered.

Embrace yourself.

Allow yourself to exist.

Take up the space that is you.

The camera loves you.

De Lens Loves You.

Yes, you.

Looking at yourself and appreciating your worth isn’t always easy. You stare at yourself in the mirror and see all your imperfections. All your shortcomings. All the things you wish to still change about your self. When is it enough? It’s not the same for everybody and we all deal with these thoughts to different extends. But let me tell you: even the most confident people have their insecurities.

As a photographer, I come across these things way too often and see it with many different people. Wether that’s hidden behind a smile and a joke or just straight up telling me they don’t like the way they look. There’s always a pronounced dislike for something about themselves. It’s a false believe that only you can control. Yes, you.

Aks yourself: is it the way you look on camera or is it just the way you look at yourself? Why is that? A camera doesn’t discriminate. It records exactly what it sees. There’s no purer form of registration. So don’t blame the camera; the camera loves you. And if you don’t love yourself then you can change that, of course you can. There are so many things you can change. But the most important thing you can change, is your attitude towards yourself.

Buying a De Lens Loves You product is telling yourself that you know you have worth. You know you are beautiful. You know you matter. As soon as you put on that garment, your days of self-doubt are over.

But why not De Lens Loves Me, then? Because it’s not about yourself anymore. You’re already there. It’s now time to spread that message. Tell the people around you they are as perfect as you are. Just the way they are. De Lens Loves You, yes, and the lens loves everybody around you.

Rain, wind, storm

I love the rain.
The way it pounds on the flat roof of the apartment.
The way it leaves spatters on the windows that fragment the light.
The way it obscures the vision of the tower into the distance from the balcony.

I love the wind.
The way it blows around the barren corners of the building.
The way it vigorously moves the trees with their summer foliage.
The way it pushes out the pressing humidity of the warm summer days and replaces it with a blanket of fresh petrichor.

I love a good storm.

I had a random thought this morning

I had a random thought this morning about the differences and similarities between photography and writing. As a matter of fact, I even had a point to make that I think is somewhat interesting! I jotted it down real quick in my ever growing Free Association note in the Notes app so I could return to it later. So when I returned home, I got to writing.

Quickly though, that random thought turned into something more refined and lengthy. Far beyond the scope of these Monologues. That story is now living as a draft in my Dialogue folder. I’ll give it some more time to marinade, perhaps do some research, and then give it a proper place to live.

So what does that mean for today’s update? Well, I’m basically saying that the interesting thing I had planned is not coming today and I’ve replaced it with this rather boring PSA. I’m not mad about it, I hope you aren’t as well. Perhaps it’s a good idea to plan a writing-day for myself sometime soon. Who knows, I might actually produce something valuable.

Sundays are resting days

Sundays are resting days. So nothing interesting has happened. Nor did I have any interesting thoughts to share here. Therefore, I’d like to divert once again to some game-photography. Even when I’m kicking back with a videogame, I still have to bring out the camera every time I catch a good view.

Here are a few of my favorites from Red Dead Redemption 2.

Mitchel Lensink Red Dead Redemption 2 photography
Mitchel Lensink Red Dead Redemption 2 photography
Mitchel Lensink Red Dead Redemption 2 photography
Mitchel Lensink Red Dead Redemption 2 photography
Mitchel Lensink Red Dead Redemption 2 photography
Mitchel Lensink Red Dead Redemption 2 photography
Mitchel Lensink Red Dead Redemption 2 photography

Full days

Another full day.

Woke up to a headache. But it didn’t take too long to get my head straight.

Shot some product photos for my De Lens Loves You vintage dad caps.

Went to pick up a package. Then bought an LP at the last local recordshop.

Texted my mother to check in. Followed that up with a visit.

Rushed to the station to grab a train. Happened to catch my mate at on the way.

Pulled up to the spot where said mate and another one had to spin some records. I kicked back and shot some photos.

Come 7PM and we rush to the station to be in time for a dinner date. The direct train is cancelled.

We find a pasta for dinner and wait for the next option. A stop train with a stop bus that takes about 45 minutes what would otherwise have taken 18.

We deal with the consequences and don’t let our head down.

I cycle to my final destination of the day. I grab a few beers.

Another full day.

My mans

My mans. How is it going? Are you well? I am doing extraordinarily well. Thanks for asking! I uhhmm, I have done quite a few things the past day. Many of them I can’t even remember. Oh, I started work on a new edition of Dialogue. My infrequent newsletter about photography, personal growth, philosophy and more photography. I also shot a photo in a skate park. That was pretty cool. I worked on my photography archive. More on that in said newsletter. What more… ah! I went out for dinner. Caught sunset at the water. Very nice stuff.

Now I’m trying to catch some sleep so I can bring the flames again tomorrow. I’m excited already so I’m not sure if sleeping will work. Though it kinda has to, to make tomorrow work anyway. Well see what happens. Either way I’m out for now. See you guys tomorrow.

A desk was never really your thing anyway

Falling asleep in the afternoon. It’s never the plan. It overtakes you. One moment you’re happily editing photos on your iPhone, the next moment you feel your eyes becoming heavier and heavier until you can’t do anything but close them. Just for a second. That won’t hurt, won’t it? Then, two and a half hours later, you’re back to happily editing on your iPhone.

It’s a strange occurrence; not one you’ve had to deal with much before. Lately though, things have been a little different. To be fair, you used to edit photos on the computer behind your desk but ever since that pesky pain in your shoulder you feel when using a computer mouse too long, you try to stay clear of that. The syncing between Lightroom Classic CC and Lightroom Mobile is pretty good as well so why not use the iPhone to move some work away from the desk. A desk was never really your thing anyway.

The problems begin when you choose other less than ideal spots to edit photos on your phone. At first, you sit down in a chair at the dinner table. Another active position to do active work. You then transport yourself to the sofa; why wouldn’t you make yourself comfortable as well? Then you slowly start to default to sitting upright in the bed, the comfiest of places in your home. Which quickly turns to laying down in your bed.

Well then, you’ve did this all to yourself, haven’t you? It might not be the plan but you shouldn’t be surprised when you’re falling asleep in the afternoon.

The postwoman

I walk out the door with my bike in hand when the postwoman arrives in her van. ‘Good morning!’, I yell at her. ‘You don’t need to be at my place, don’t you?’

‘Good morning! No, I don’t think I have to!’ she yells back. I set off on my bike and hear a faint ‘hopefully…’ coming from her direction as she opens the back of the van. I guess I’ll have to wait and see if there’s a “we missed you!” card in the mailbox when I return home.

201 days of uninterrupted daily writing and still going strong

Continuing the trend from yesterday, which was day 200(!) in this Monologue series by the way, we enjoy the day as much as we can again. That this means you leave your house at 19:15 for the first time does not bother you that much. In fact, you’ve enjoyed the office day from home a lot. The weekend has brought many social interactions and as a proper introvert, you need some time to recharge.

And recharging you will. The camera is a constant factor and it will remain that so when you set off, it’s to take a photo. You are blessed enough to have a local newspaper willingly accepting your work. You use that opportunity to build up a proper report and to further your notoriety so that, hopefully one day, you can say that word, notoriety, without secretly feeling like a poser. You take the shot swiftly but surely. It’s one of your better ones in the series.

You pack up your gear, kick your bike into its highest and speed off. Time to catch sunset at a friend’s house. Upon arrival you pretty much immediately unpack your camera again and blast off an unreasonable amount of shots in the direction of the young cat present. Yes, that’s right, you find yourself at the same friend’s as yesterday. This time though, she’s making burgers and fries so it’s a whole different energy again.

Upon arrival at your home you sit down behind your computer to upload the photos from today to Adobe’s Creative Cloud, allowing you to edit the shots on the go on your phone at a later time. You then rest your still weary body on your bed. On top of the blankets, because it’s not time to sleep yet. You still need to complete today’s story. And with that, we conclude 201 days of Monologues.

A first person view of what a Sunday should be

You wake up a little crusty after a good night of entertainment. You shake it off with the help of a good breakfast of bagels with cream cheese but keep your profile low for a few more hours. Watch a couple of travel vlogs on YouTube. Observe the sky from the balcony. Shoot cute videos of the cats hunting after small insects.

You then ponder any further planning as the morning slowest transforms into an early afternoon. A friend reaches out for afternoon drinks and bites. Of course you accept that invitation. You hesitate on which camera to bring as neither of them can be called a favorite. You love them equally as you would with your children. The Fujifilm X-Pro3 you recently acquired wins the battle this time.

You freely spread yourself at the friend’s balcony and indulge with the finer goods of life. You spot a kitten in the corner and bless your earlier decision to bring the X-Pro3 with the 35mm f2 attached. A wonderful combination to document the early days of this little cat. The little kitten doesn’t object to your presence and let’s itself be photographed abundantly.

Another friend calls and asks if you and your company are up to grab some pizzas. Off you go again. Pizza restaurant Bombari is calling. Once arrived, you down a few regular sized beers while others drink S-sized pints. The evening is still young and the sun hasn’t fully left the day yet. There is just one final stop to make. the New City Terrace that’s the hippest thing currently available in the city. It’s not that hip but the choices are limited regarding new initiatives. You take what you can get.

Upon arrival you notice that the ambiance is super mellow. Just what you’re after. You sit yourself down in a comfortable spot and let the rest of the day pass by while sinking into a slow satisfaction.

Many levels of meta

Sometimes when there aren’t any particular events of interest in a day, one has no choice but to go meta. In those occasions, the result is mostly along the lines of a general thought. An idea. A philosophy, even? It’s always a surprise. Even for the writer.

In this case, one has so little to mention that the story itself is so meta that it talkes about the meta-ness of writing. How much more meta can we go? That even in a story that explains the process behind writing a meta story, one acknowledges that’s a meta practice to begin with.

How many levels of meta are we now looking at? Maybe not so many and one is simply pushing an idea too hard right now. Despite that, one feels accomplished in that this story could be written from a sunny terrace slowest sipping on a cold brew.1

  1. A beer, not the hipster coffee. Don’t get it twisted. I’m not that hipstery-fied. ↩︎

A little TLC for myself

Without any particular reason, I was a little out of it today. Things were either taking too long or going by too fast. Everything was going fine but nothing really succeeded. None of it matters that much but it’s a nuisance when things don’t get checked off. That was my general feeling today.

The second I gained a little of in-between-time the idea hit me to just take a quick stroll with my camera. Photography has been, will be and therefore still is, a form of therapy for me. It calms my nerves and makes me forget about all those pseudo-important things I so desperately want to do. Every day is a treasure, I’ve said it before, and should be treated as such.

A little while later, I found myself in a part of town that’s recently been renewed that I haven’t visited after the renovations. It made me wonder if I have any images from the situation before all the new buildings. A registration of the situation that will never be again. Nevertheless, shooting photos in the new neighborhood might be just as significant. Nothing in a city changes more than an area that’s recently started to be inhabited by its first people.

The still small trees and bushes will grow tall and dominant. The leftover-from-the-construction sand in the streets will find a way between the cracks of the freshly laid pavement. The uniformity of the buildings will slowly take on the character of its owners. A soulless congregation of bricks and carefully planned out fauna will form itself into the molds the collective will determine over time. It took a while to realize but I now no longer feel aimless when I walk these streets. Everything I see will be recorded and everything recorded will be archived. I’m pondering a little restructuring of my archives and having them serve a purpose other than merely storage. More on that thought later.

It’s not much but it’s honest work.

I tried to formulate a mission statement

Today marks the day where I tried to properly formulate a mission statement for the first time. An idea I’ve been playing with in the back of my head for a while now but haven’t really set my mind to. It’s not easy to capture the essence of your being in a single sentence. Of course it isn’t. “The essence of your being”, that’s such a weighty concept to define. How could you ever?

It is exactly for that reason that I never bothered to find the words. I always felt like the moment I used proper language to define my actions, I’d be limited to the box I just put myself in. A scary thought: “If I write this down now, I better mean it and I better show the world I mean it. There is no room for errors here”. This sentiment stuck with me until I had an important realization.

I realized that even the essence of your being can be a fluid concept. The things that drive me most today don’t have to be the same tomorrow. Now, it could be possible that I was just looking for excuses to not having to put words to what I’m doing. Because while it’s okay to change your mission statement, you can’t be fickle about it. If you commit to a certain mission, you do have to mean it at least at that particular time and the foreseeable future. That still is a scary process. It involves stripping out all the unnecessary clutter and fluff and just writing down the bare minimum. You have to be brutally honest to yourself.

So that’s what I tried to do. I looked up a few things online on how to tackle writing a mission statement and found a general trend that you should focus on your What, your How and your Why. Most online sources refer to this in a business context but I think it applies to people like myself as well. I am my own business and even if I wasn’t, I’d still think it a healthy exercise to find some direction.

Because that’s exactly what you are doing. By actively using language to formulate a mission statement, you have to think about the things you want to put in there and the things you want to leave out. By making it as short as possible, you just write down what you do, how you do it and why you do it. These three things can be many different ones, as long as you stick to these variables. So where it is true that giving words to a thing can limit you, that’s actually a good thing. As having a sense of direction inherently requires limiting your options. Only then can you move with purpose and intent, as you now know if something aligns with your mission statement or when it doesn’t. Having this information about yourself and your work makes it easier to say no to things you aren’t sure about as well as finding the things you should be putting energy in.

So with that being said, my mission statement as of July 14th, 2021 is:

I document life as it happens in photographic and written form to preserve the present for the future.

I don’t think I’ll stick with this forever, as I still find it a bit… pretentious? But this is the best thing I could come up with today. The reason I decided to immediately proceed to making it public is to make myself accountable to stick to is as well as to update it whenever I feel like it doesn’t fit me anymore. At the same time, it’s always nice to have a record1 of how these things evolve over time and I’m sure it will. Which means you can see the old ones in my Milestones section on the about page, right below the Mission statement section right above it.

I would elaborate a little more on why I’ve specifically chosen this mission statement but I think I’ll save that for a separate blog post. That will allow me to dive into a little more and perhaps do some more internal digging why this is what I wrote today. Who knows, I might be only a few insights away from the first update. For now though, I’m perfectly happy as it stands.

  1. You see how I’m already putting in practice what I preach in my newly formed mission statement? I’m documenting everything! ↩︎

An interesting congregation of vegetation

What now? Another ‘About The Photo’ today? That makes two in a row. Is that even allowed? Well, if you are scrambling for topics to talk about for your daily updates and you enjoy writing these little dissections, then it sure is allowed.

I also really enjoy looking closely at my own pictures and finding words for the things my eyes were first drawn to when I came across a scene. Seemingly uninteresting things can hide amazing stories if you allow yourself to see them.

And without the furthest sight of an ado, here are my thoughts:

That’s… an interesting congregation of vegetation.

I mean, those hedges make sense. They belong there. In fact, they can be found practically everywhere. That bamboo though… and those big palmy leaves. Nah, that’s definitely something alien. Definitely not a common sight in The Netherlands. Then, glancing over at the curb at the bottom of the photo, it appears all this flora grows on the same property as well. I guess somebody likes their environments as eclectic as possible.

Talking about eclecticity,1 this photo homes quite a few different textures. First the blue sky with those puffy clouds, indicating that this is definitely taken on a warm summer day. Secondly, of course, those rampant bamboo sprouts taking up a solid section of the composition. Nicely balancing next to those fanning palm leaves.

Then, suddenly, that sign sticking its head(?) up from behind the hedge. Why is that fence on that person’s property? Why isn’t it in the public domain like it’s supposed to? If it was, we would’ve been able to see the pole it rests on. Instead, it’s hidden in the bush, merely revealing the essentials. A warning for the viewer. For what though?

As we move our eyes down the hedge we’ve referenced quite a bit by now, our vision rests on the neatly placed bricks on the ground. Ah! This must be some kind of parking space then. Or at least it was, before the sign specifically forbade it. And it counts for both ways as well. A very rigorous sign this is. Oh, what if, and I’m guessing here, this person wanted to reserve that parking space for themselves? Simply placing a sign at the edge of their property, warning any possible takers that this parking space is not for the public. I’m not sure this is the case but in my head, it could be true. That’s good enough for me.

  1. Another word I just now made up. ↩︎

Mitchel Lensink The Silence Around Fine Art Print
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