Little is known about Lewis before he went to work in Indonesia for the Armenian firm, Onnes Kurkdjian, in 1896. His work there was divided between fine, industrial and topographic photography. He returned to Britain in 1917 during the height of the Great War. Although too old for active service, Lewis was keen to assist in the war effort and was assigned to photograph activity on the Home Front. It is for the some 1,300 photographs he took in the following eighteen months that he is most remembered. Lewis was one of only sixteen official British photographers who documented the war, which was the first major conflict to have contemporary photographic iconography.