Looking ahead.


I turned 28 the other day. For me every birthday since my 21st has brought mixed feelings. I rarely celebrate ‘getting older’ these days. It’s exciting to become an ‘adult’, but once you are one, well, the excitement pretty quickly wears off. Every birthday becomes a reminder that the clock is ticking, time isn’t standing still and your days on earth are limited. As if I wasn’t conscious of it all already, the death of that rather famous pop-icon was yet another reminder that we are all indeed mortal.

That sure is a morbid way of looking at things, especially for a young person, many of you will think. Hey, just stating a simple fact that no one can escape. I figure that since I realize this, I can at least try to make the most of what time I do have.

The life I’m currently living is the life I chose after finishing university. It’s the life I wanted. A 9-5 job just never appealed to me. I have done it (though not for long) hated it; and what’s the point of doing something we hate most of our lives?

I am very curious and I always feel the urge to express myself creatively, so, to put it simply, I chose to travel around the world, explore it, experience its different cultures and people and photograph some of what I see along the way.

It’s not a life for everyone and it’s not even entirely perfect for me, there’s the constant financial uncertainty that’s attached to this lifestyle and as I work on it, I have to compensate for months of fun with months of pretty full-on work in front of the computer, sorting out through images, emailing publications and agencies (something I don’t like so much) all that in hopes of getting rid of the financial uncertainty completely, some time in the not too distant future.

But the life I have is great, no complaints for most part :). There’s nothing better than the feeling of being alive, of being so present in the moment that you don’t need to reflect on the past or the future, just see/feel what’s in front and around you right now. That’s how it is most of the time, while I’m on the road. What’s even better is the fact that I share all my experiences with the one person that really matters – my wife Tanya.

What’s the point of all this? Why am I posting these thoughts on the blog? Well, I simply want to share a bit of my philosophy, it’s relevant to any people not doing what they want with their lives and it seems like there are a lot of you out there. We often say to ourselves – “Tomorrow”, but one day tomorrow becomes yesterday and you missed your chance.

Whether it’s a dream photography project you’ve been putting off for years or whatever else, the window of opportunity eventually closes. We have to seize the chance or regret things for eternity.

I’m going to seize my own chance, a chance to see some of my family members on the other side of the world this August. I haven’t seen my grandparents for far too long and they won’t be around forever, one grandfather has already gone and neither me nor my father had a chance to say good-bye . I wouldn’t really be going to Eastern Europe at this stage of my life and my career, if it wasn’t for my desire to spend time with them, but I will make the most of this time photographically. Hopefully I can scrape enough cash for a used car (reason I’m not getting a 5D MKII yet) and explore Belarus, Ukraine and perhaps Poland and Moldova, and of course photograph a few things along the way.

Though my mind wants to go to Africa, South America, some place new or at least back to the warmth and familiarity of Asia, my heart is telling me to go see my family and to take Tanya to see her family (they live in the same country). I guess sometimes, and this will sound very cheesy, you gotta follow your heart. I feel like spewing after using such clichéd phrases, but that’s the truth and there isn’t any better or simpler way of saying it.

Above is an image of a mother and daughter from the Palesie region of Belarus. The the mother was 93, the daughter 73 at the time the photo was taken. The region is quite famous for ‘producing’ people who live long and productive lives. Both, the daughter and the mother were still working in the garden, planting things and doing house chores. Palesie is one region which I want to revisit and explore in depth during this trip.


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22 Responses to “Looking ahead.”

  1. Tim Says:

    Inspirational post Mitchell, particularly as I also turn 28 tomorrow and am embarking on my own journey toward being a humanitarian photographer. It is daunting, but I can’t think of anything I want more. It calls to me.

    So, thanks. Happy birthday btw. Hope you had a good one.



  2. pixelatedimage Says:

    Happy birthday, Mitchell. Cliche or not, following your heart’s the way to go.

  3. Mitchell Says:

    Thanks guys.

  4. shekchilli Says:

    happy birthday mitchell! youve echoed in places stories of some of our lives (im still doing the 9-5 drill). thank you for sharing your thoughts.

  5. Cheryl Caron Says:

    I believe God instills the heart’s desires and gives the gifts to follow them.

  6. batdorffphotography Says:

    Happy Birthday! Mitchell your work is incredible and your talent is unmistakable. I enjoy your honesty and I’m a big believer that hard work pays off. I’m sure your hard work will lead you down the road to overwhelming success. Keep inspiring us!

  7. Julien Dorol Says:

    Well, I’m 29, and as I get older, I feel more and more alive. Traveling the world with my camera is part of that feeling.

    Happy birthday and keep going, ’cause you do it well !
    Thanks for this picture 🙂

  8. Mitchell Says:

    Thanks shekchilli, John and Julien 🙂

  9. Ashley Says:

    I don’t think your thinking is morbid at all, actually. I’m 23 and I think about those things all the time. Honestly, I feel by thinking of these things, it keeps our mind/hearts in perspective in what reality is. Sometimes I still feel invincible because I am young and “think” I have 80+ years left of my life, but, you never know. That’s why you should live life to the fullest by filling your life with the “best” things and not 100 good things. It’s hard to do this, because you have to figure out what is best, but, it is worth it. I want to do something that is worth my life.

    Great post.

  10. Diego Lorenzo Jose Says:

    A very happy (belated) birthday to you Mitchell. Thanks for the inspiring words and photos. I’m a few years younger and I’m pretty much set on a similar path as yours -> following my heart, hating 9-5 jobs and wanting to take photographs for a living.

    Wish me luck and best of luck to you at your trip with Tanya! 🙂

  11. Ankur Says:

    Hi Mitchell, wish you a belated very Happy B’day!

    The difficulties apart, you can be rest assured that you are living a life that most of us aspire to. I am 30 and still living within the confines of a 9-5 schedule!

    It is a good idea – traveling around eastern European regions that you mentioned. I certainly believe that that they are quite interesting and you will find numerous photo-ops. I had lived on the shores of Lake Geneva for the last 18 months and had enjoyed the fantastic natural beauty – but there were not enough human stories there to photograph.

    By the way, I have recently moved to the city of Krakow in Poland and it would be great to catch up and have a beer in the old town square. Do drop me a line if you are here.

  12. Nancy Says:

    Mitchell, I never realized how young you are! You’re doing amazingly well…I’m a couple years older and I still feel like I’m trying to figure out what I REALLY want to be when I grow up.

    Have a wonderful time in Europe. Africa & Asia aren’t going to change overnight while you’re away :).

  13. Ken Says:

    Belated birthday wishes from someone who’s been doing the 9-5 thing for over 31 years. At 18 I thought about photography as a career but didn’t have the courage or perhaps the support and so took a different path. I turned 50 last November and you know, there’s no regrets nor do I think my time here is getting too short. I’m looking forward to retiring from my desk job and starting something new soon. I’ve rediscovered my love for photography and I’m busy learning the digital way. It’s great that you’re able to pursue a lifestyle that’s important to you. Take it as far as you can but don’t worry so much about getting older. You’ve got a lot of years ahead of you – time for lots of mistakes and successes. I enjoy your work.

  14. Mitchell Says:

    Thanks for the “belated” birthday wishes 🙂 and the insightful comments. It’s interesting to see how others view things.

  15. fatih Says:

    following your heart ? that’s a cliche just because it has to be repeated millions of times. and among all the other times i heard this sentence, this one is the one which impressed me the most.

    thanks for this -probably temporary- encouragement. happy birthday.

  16. Murali Rama Varma Says:

    Belated birthday wishes!

    You are indeed far too young to go philosophical!

    I greatly appreciate your resolve in choosing a career you wanted. I also notice that you enjoy it immensely which is what i really wanted in life.

    In Hindu philosophy, we say that life has to be lived from moment to moment, living completely in the present. However, most people do not follow this.

    You appear to have great perseverence too which shall keep you in good stead as you grow older and richer!

    kind regards,

  17. łukasz kruk Says:

    hey, how come you don’t have a couchsurfing account (or do you…?) – i tihnk that would help you a LOT in your travels. speaking of which, drop me a line if you do get around to visit poland, i’ll show you around 😛

  18. Saffron Says:

    Hi Mitchell,

    Thank you for your blog. It’s very inspirational from someone your age.
    It’s nice that you are living your life at the moment no matter how much
    difficulties you face. Right sacrifices are needed when one choose to follow
    his/her heart. You will do well and I wish you the very best of luck.

  19. JLL Says:

    Hey Mitchell,

    I know this is an older post but I’ve been reading through your archives and had to comment since you briefly touched upon the subject of my blog — staying alive indefinitely long. Check it out if life extension interests you.

    Anyhow, I’m enjoying your blog so far, both the writing and the pictures. Glad to hear you’re enjoying your lifestyle!

    – JLL

  20. Andrei Baciu Says:

    Happy birthday, Mitchell!

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