thoughts

Camera Gear You Should Never Buy Used

I previously wrote an article on some of the gear that photographers can buy used and how I saved $15,000 doing so. It feels wrong for me to buy any new gear -- like I'm burning money when doing so. That said, here are a few photography things that even bargain-hunters like me buy new.

I Stopped Trying to Impress Other Photographers, and I’ve Never Been Happier

My name is Jordan McChesney, and I'm a photographer based in Japan. Let me start by saying that I am not a professional photographer, and I’m well aware that my movement towards success is an ongoing process that is (hopefully) in the early stages of even bigger things to come. That being said, I think it’s a good idea to reflect on my last year or so of growth.

Thoughts on a Framework for Photo Ethics

Ethics in photography is a topic that just keeps popping up. Whether it’s the latest dish on Magnum, or an argument about photographing the homeless, some days it seems you can’t turn around without stumbling across another disagreement.

The Little Camera That Can: Pocketing the Fuji X70

I bought a used Fujifilm X70 online last year during the UK lockdown. For quite a while I’d been wanting a camera that I could pocket. No case, no fluff, just pocket.

My Considerations Photographing the Military in Washington DC

While on assignment in Washington, D.C. in late January earlier this year, I had to think very carefully about the situation I was documenting. The events around the Inauguration of Joe Biden had swung the global spotlight around, and I knew that there would be scrutiny of any historical artifact that was produced in this space at this time.

The Existential Argument for the Photographic Print

When I die I will no longer have active control over my archive. My will will outline that my negatives are left to any archive that may want them -- depending on whether my career looks anything like I’d want it to, this may be one or two, or none. The main responsibility falls to me to do what I can while alive if I’m to enjoy being represented in the photography community by work that legitimizes me.

Regarding Photographs: And In Conclusion…

This is the end of my essay series on how we see and think about photographs. While I could certainly ramble on more or less forever, this is a good place to stop.

Regarding Photographs: On the Ethics of Photography II

In the previous essay I set aside a category of ethical issues around photographs. Specifically, the issues that arise from the very existence of the photo, rather than from the meaning of it. Issues around consent, and around extraction (who gets paid.)

For Nikon Shooters With Sony Paranoia…

Sony's non-surprising Alpha 1 announcement this week seems to have set a few Nikon shooters into panic again. More disinformation and clickbait headlines are also proliferating. The common theme seems to be "Nikon can't/won't keep up and will fail."

Regarding Photographs: On the Ethics of Photography I

In the ongoing spirit of applying my new(?) model of thinking about photographs to old questions, let’s take a pass through “ethics” to see if anything interesting shows up.

Regarding Photographs: On the Truth of a Photo

I’ve been writing for a while now on this single idea: that photographs transport you, in a sense, to the scene of the photograph; that you therefore react to photographs as if you were there, viscerally; that you react specifically by imagining the world around the photo; and finally that this imaginative reaction, this meaning you make, is of central importance in understanding a photograph.

Regarding Photographs: Photo Criticism — An Example

If you’ve been following along for any length of time, you might be starting to wonder if the author here even owns a camera, and if so, whether he can work it at all. I can! I really do, and I can! I mean, kinda, anyways.

Regarding Photographs: Photo Criticism

The previous essays in this series have tried to develop some ideas about what happens when people look at photos. The realism, that mass of realistic detail, causes (I claim) a visceral reaction: we feel, we react, we think, a little as if we were transported by the photograph into the scene itself.

What a New, Budget-Friendly Leica M 35mm Camera Might Be Like

In the eyes of many, 35mm film photography was snuffed out in the early 2000s. But a small, dedicated fan base has continued to smolder. For all intents and purposes, Leica launched the 35mm camera. And it seems that nearly a century later, they are still committed to fanning the flames that they themselves ignited.

Matter Deconstructed: The Observer Effect and Photography

Photographs are omnipresent in our daily lives. From social media and advertising to family photos hanging on your wall. Images are used for identification and as evidence, as well as informing us at a cultural level about who we are.

Regarding Photographs: Reading Photos II

In the previous essay, I introduced a couple of imaginary photographs. The first, an old woman celebrating her birthday with family and friends; the second a photograph of a man seated in a chair, attentive to something out of frame.

Regarding Photographs: Reading Photos I

This is the third essay in this series, and it begins a smaller sequence of notes running over the ways we as viewers make sense of pictures. We spend, I think, too much time thinking about what happens before and during the making of a picture, but not enough on what happens when someone actually looks at it. For most of us, for most pictures, surely this is the most interesting time?

When Bokeh Isn’t Best: Appreciating a Deeper Depth of Field

Recently, the more I study my photographs, the more I feel that bokeh is cheating me out of a more substantial image. I really like photographs with a lot of visual complexity -- well presented, not chaotic, but a clear arrangement of multiple elements.