A Lesser Photographer Manifesto by CJ Chilvers

Last week, CJ was very generous to provide me with an advance copy of his recently published manifesto for minimal photography entitled A Lesser Photographer: 10 Principles for Rediscovering What Matters.

As mentioned before, back in 2010, CJ Chilvers began a project where he completely minimized his photo gear to the bare essentials. The purpose was to discover if what he produced would be as meaningful as if he owned the latest of anything. My personal view on gear is that while it is important, it’s highly overvalued. Many newbies and I included myself in this group, viewed the purchase of expensive equipment as an obstacle that one needed to prevail over before one could think of breaking into this elitist world we perceive as real photography.

I’ll agree with you in that there may be some equipment you may need as a photographer but they are far less than marketing people want you to believe. It’s taken me a while to realize it but after reading CJ’s manifesto, I learned that simplicity does not mean there’s no purpose in what you do with your camera, it just means the purpose is very simple: It’s not what you photographed with that matters, it’s what you chose to photograph that’s going to ultimately convince people to wanna to see your work.

Content-wise, if you’re searching for an eBook that’s going to supply you with technical jargon on photography and camera equipment advice, this is not the eBook that’s going to do it for you which is a noteworthy trait because there’s a surplus of that everywhere on the web already. Writer’s block is a real beast and as far as the productive process of creating a photograph is involved, the most terrifying thing in the world for a photographer is not knowing what to photograph and so what’s encouraging about this manifesto is that it immediately zaps you with a totally revamped outlook on how to better approach this obsession you and I have with photography.

Back in college, I was only able to take 1 course in photography and I’m embarrassed to say that I hardly recall much of anything, perhaps because I wasn’t too inspired to retain much of what had been taught. Eventually I taught myself all the technical stuff of operating a camera but during those long hours we spent in the classroom, I would have much preferred to be supplied with a copy of CJ’s A Lesser Photographer Manifesto to get my mind working before my camera.

I highly recommend reading the manifesto. I don’t want to spoil all the great words of wisdom from the eBook but I’ll leave you with 2 of my many favorite:

  • No matter what area of photography offers the promise of more money or recognition; you will never be as prolific or creative in that area as in the area that naturally interests you.
  • Concentrate on making your images remarkable, instead of marketable. If you photograph what you love to photograph, without regard for money, you’ll create better images, which could lead to the possibility of money. Just don’t count on the money.