Photography Hobby Gives Clinical Social Worker Purpose and Hope

Mar 28, 2023

man with white hair stands with mountains in background

By Alison Laurio

David LaPensee, MSW, ACSW, LICSW, LCSW, has traveled to 30 countries and 47 U.S. states. He said he has been taking photos for decades and always has his camera with him.

“If I went alone or with other people, I always had something to do in the present moment,” he said.

“It’s a meditative project. This is my passion, and it has given me a legacy that I can pass on to my family and my friends and my community. And now in the days of social media, it has helped me gain new friends as well.”

Why Photography?

LaPensee began taking photos in 1969, when he was living in Boston.

“I wanted to have something to focus on in my life,” he said. “I was drifting at the time. I was a young man working retail and felt I had no goal or purpose.”

He started taking photos and stuck with it because, “I was good at it and it gave me something to do,” said LaPensee, a clinical social worker in private practice in Tampa, Fla. “I was struck with a sense of creativity and fulfillment.”

LaPensee mainly takes nature and outdoor photos and now has hundreds of them—which another nature photographer told him “are on par with National Geographic Magazine.” Many of his photos are framed and hanging in his office, and he said his clients often comment on them.

“All the clients say they’re inspirational and they’re all about hope, and that’s the message I want to send,” LaPensee said. “Photography is a form of art. (It’s) a way to be in a present moment. I love to travel, and it coalesced with that. It’s been a source of pride for me, so I stick with it and will do it as long as I can. Photography is a quest.”

NASW members can read the full story in NASW Social Work Advocates magazine.