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Photo: Megan Chapman

Ben Chislett

Ben Chislett grew up in Spain and studied Experimental Psychology at University of Bristol. His personal pictures are inspired by everyday people, telling their stories using classical documentary imagery. He also plies his trade as a freelance commercial photographer, using his skills to supply businesses with their photographic needs, as effectively and efficiently as possible. Goal-oriented thinking influences his teaching style and approach to photography.

“The purpose of gaining as much technical knowledge as possible is to make it subconscious. That way you can concentrate on the far more interesting task of making pictures.”

As a general non-conformist and having worked for a few NGOs, Ben Chislett became disillusioned with the aging-white-male and western-dominated, poverty-porn addicted, sensationalist and colonialist, agenda-driven, stereotype-confirming approach that is intrinsic to the documentary photography world, where a photographers’ work is so often the equivalent of a one-night-stand to a crisis that can last generations.

Despite this, Ben Chislett still believes in photography as a means of exploring the world we don’t know, connecting us with people and situations we would otherwise never have known, making us witnesses to life, and as a way of rediscovering the world around us on a deeper level, a way of stealing instances of our time from the abyss.

As a freelance commercial photographer, Ben currently prefers the simpler money-driven-world to the moral complexities and responsibilities of pretenting or trying to photograph a reality. He feels this mindset makes him especially apt to teach skills and techniques involved in the highly subjective form of narrative that is photography.

Since 2014 he has been a lecturer of Photographic Techniques and Practical Photography at Neue Schule für Fotografie. Developing a pragmatic approach to photography plays a central role in his teaching, whereby students are challenged to produce goal-oriented projects, and where open feedback should be expected, digested and incorporated.

The two deepest pleasures Ben can think of in photography are that feeling when you know you have captured a special moment, and the feeling when you have finally managed to make a print that does it justice.