018 | I am a pet photographer

Mitchel Lensink
Jan 18, 2021
2 min read

I posted this tweet yesterday that got me thinking:

because I imply that the end goal for me as a photographer should be to document and report on deep rooted social issues. I’m not sure if that’s true but this is something I’m thinking about more and more lately.

How can I use my work to add something to the world? How can I bring some good?

I’m pretty sure I want to focus on documentary photography as I enjoy it’s raw and unpolished spirit. It fits my style of photography and me as a person. [1]

The logical next step then could be to photograph and tell the untold stories of the world. Many great documentary photographers made books and articles about social issues that mattered to them. Should I do the same? I mean, it would make sense with my degree in social sciences so there’s definitely some synergy there.

Is that want I want to do though? And if it is, am I ready to do it now? Or should I evolve a little before I dare to touch such delicate topics?

At the same time, I’m perfectly happy photographing streets and landscapes. Capture them in their current time. Leave them free of judgement or analysis. In a sense that’s a very pure form of documentary photography.

What good does that bring to the world though?

The only way to tell is years into the future when you are able to determine if those shots hold any cultural relevance. Until that happens, they are nothing but pretty pictures. You could argue those also have their purposes but I don’t think that’s enough. At least not for me.

I don’t want to be some shallow image maker. I need it to be more meaningful than that.

Let me sit with these thoughts a little more. I notice that writing them down has brought more clarity. I should report back when I have another step to take.

Until then, I’m a pet photographer.

  1. Yes, I’m basically referring to myself as raw and unpolished but that’s besides the point here and a whole different thought experiment. ↩︎

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