A Lesser Photographer

I've recently been enthralled by the work of photographer CJ Chilvers, who runs the blog A Lesser Photographer. His minimal approach to photography is one of thoughtfulness and creativity, rather than focusing on expensive gear or "professional" methods.

His blog is full of fantastic posts, but I recommend starting with the A Lesser Photographer Manifesto, which is a free-to-read PDF ebook (look at me staying on-topic today!) that encapsulates his views on photography.

A couple of choice quotes:

"Every new, professional grade camera aims to remove the photographer another step from the mechanical processes of the camera to “focus on the image.”

This has the opposite effect.

Creativity is always enhanced by a constraint. This is true in filmmaking, music, painting, writing and even photography.

How many times has one of your favorite bands, whose best album was produced in days using half-borrowed equipment, gone on to spend a year in the studio on their next album, only to produce a mediocre (at best) result?

How many times has a talented filmmaker been given unlimited funds and technical possibilities only to produce a Jar Jar Binks?

A lesser camera makes you think. Thought is better than automation in art. Automation leads to commoditization. Your art becomes easily replaceable or worse, forgettable."


"For years, photographers have been wisely imploring writers to learn to create compelling images to enhance their storytelling. The same argument must be made in reverse. Photographers must learn to write to enhance their storytelling, or find a writer to collaborate with. The two skills are inescapably linked now.

This is why it makes no sense for a photographer, with no professional mandate, to keep a portfolio section on their website. Viewers would be better served, and in turn photographers would be better served, by telling stories. Those stories are better served with great writing. A picture may be worth a thousand words, but the worth of a great story is incalculable."

CJ has inspired me to reflect on my own approach to photography and I recommend checking out his work. Be sure to subscribe.