“The greatest tools any photographer can have”

I wanted to show my Press & Editorial students down here at Falmouth the wonderful work of Jim Mortram this morning. Take some time to explore that link, to learn from Jim and to read what he has to say.

I asked Jim late last night whether he had any words for the students. Even though he is a very busy man, he found the time to come back to me straight away. I am very grateful to him for that. His work and his words went down a storm with the students, it has given them a great start to the week, and made them think about how they don’t necessarily have to chase half way around the world to find a story. His words have really helped reinforce some of the fundamental tenets of being an effective editorial, press and documentary photographer..namely respect, communication and empathy.

I hope you find his words useful and inspiring too. Thanks Jim.



I’d love to be with you, instead I’m being read out to you, kind of strange but then, the world can be!. 

It is however a good example of communication and communicating. 

Communicating gives life to those things within you that matter, that which you’ve a passion for, that you’ve a need to share, that which you have to report. Communicating with you this fairly strange way just serves to prove rules are there to be bent and where there’s a will, there’s a way. 

The most important idea I’d like to share with you is this. Don’t underestimate anything. Ever. Be it yourself, the community around you or your peers. It’s easy to fall back on sayings like ‘From small acorns’… but there’s always a seed of truth in such gestures. If you have a need to find a truth, no matter what obstacles there are, you’ll find a path to uncover them, to report them and ultimately to be able to share them. To communicate them.

Everyone has a story. You spend 10 minutes, ask the right questions and listen more than you talk. Everyone’s had an amazing life. Do not underestimate anyone. Ever. You can be in a room of strangers and in an hour have the making of a community. This may sound idealistic but ask questions, listen, listen harder and through the exchange trust flourishes, bonds knit and fuse together, common ground is discovered. These are the very building blocks of a community. At least, that’s the community I want to be a part of!.

These actions of enquiring, asking, listening, not judging, showing and sharing empathy and a genuine interest in those around you will always be the greatest tools any photographer can have. Without communicating, without asking questions & without listening… you may as well leave your lens cap on. 

Make your interest in the person you are photographing more visible than your camera, this will render your camera invisible. If you render your camera invisible, you can take all the images, in any circumstance you require to best communicate them and their story. 

Be genuine to yourselves. Go for stories that you care for. No matter what confronts you, you’ll find a way past it. 

Lastly and the most important part of the equation is always whom you’re pointing your camera at. Those whom you ask questions of, those whom you photograph… without those people in front of you and their trust and selflessness you’re forever all alone with nothing to photograph and nothing to communicate. Never underestimate anyone.’

Keep well! All the best, Jim

Discussion (3 Comments)

  1. justin leighton says:

    I’ve printed this out and placed it were i can see it from my desk… this bloke humbles me… more and more

  2. Candice says:

    Thank you so much for sharing this.

    It actually made me realize some important things and some “important mistakes” that I believe could make me a better photographer.

    Thank you, David. Thank you for the inspiration, Jim.

    I’ll always keep those words in mind.

  3. J A Mortram says:

    Mr L, Candice and all at Duck… Thank you!

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