The Photographer



We think that we select our obsessions, that we are in control of what we do.

But maybe not. Maybe our obsessions choose us.

The first time I had a camera in my hands and an idea to make photographs I set out to wander. I instinctively sought out the subject matter that I still chase today.  I had no experience, no knowledge of how to truly operate the camera, no sense of anything, really except that there was something out there that I could photograph that would convey what was in my heart.

My mother was a news junkie so Life and Look magazines were always in the house when I was a kid. I grew up studying news photographs and photo essays by the premier photographers of the day.  I had never heard of Gordon Parks, Douglas Kirkland, Bill Eppridge or any of the dozens of people making images of the news  but I was certainly moved by their work.  Larry Burrows’ photographs from Vietnam in particular were then and are now absolutely riveting.  I can still remember the moment I saw the Bill Eppridge photo of Senator Robert Kennedy shot and dying on the cement floor of the kitchen pantry in The Ambassador Hotel. 


So while I understood the power of photography,  I had no desire to actually BE a photographer until I was in my early 30’s.   I bought a Nikon SLR and wandered again, learning as much as I could as fast as I could about the technical aspects of photography.  I also took a good hard look at the work of other photographers and the history of photography.  To be a photographer and not know Alfred Stieglitz is exactly like being a baseball player and not knowing Babe Ruth.

And somewhere along the line there I actually became a photographer.  Thanks for taking a look at my work.  I am proud of the photographs I have made and I am more enthusiastic then I have ever been about the photographs I WILL make.   There are endless highways out there and I plan to drive every single one before I am through.

                                                                                                                                                                                          Chris Hensel

                                                                                                                                                                                          Media, Pennsylvania