This article is about an intervention or approach in mental health care that has been developed and conceived from hermeneutics, more specifically the hermeneutics of Ricoeur. The intervention we called the photo-instrument. In this intervention photography is used as a means to assist patients in a process of meaning making from experiences in their life world. It aims at empowerment and strengthening the agency of patients. It does so by facilitating storytelling. Mimesis, as interpreted by Ricoeur, was found to be a central concept with which we could explain the therapeutic working of the approach and legitimize its ethical claims of empowerment and recovery. Another aspect is the concordance between narrative and action, as described by Ricoeur, which has a pendant in the goal orientation of the photography intervention. At the same time it will be demonstrated that experiences from professional practice (nurses applying the intervention) feedback on the theory and enrich it with new insights, e.g. on iconic representation.Keywords: hermeneutics, recovery, metaphors, suffering, mental health care, mimesis, photography.