Up until fairly recently I referred to myself as a “Photographer”, now though, if I am asked I will invariably say I am an “Image Maker”. We live in a world which is increasingly digital orientated, he print format is rapidly being superseded by digital content. Magazines are read on tablets, smartphones and computers, so along with still images, I am making fashion film too.
When I began my journey at the start of the 90’s it was on a multimedia course at Oxford College of Arts. It was focused on filmmaking and the music industry. If I wanted to do any photography, then it was down to me to find out how. I started to shoot film, teach myself how to process it and then head into the dark room and make prints. I won’t lie, the subjects were uninteresting and the prints were atrocious, but we all have to start somewhere. Despite this, I got the bug, I fell in love with the process of creating an image.
Leaving Oxford my life in photography really began, I studied under the tutelage of a wonderful man named Roger Hickman. Sadly Roger is no longer with us, but he said the most inspiring and true words to me, they have stayed with me, and guided me ever since. It was when I was leaving the college and we had our final meeting, we were looking at my work and he turned to me and said “Duncan, you have a style that is unique to yourself and that will be your greatest strength in the future.”
I began working in a professional photographic lab in London. I could shoot as much film as I liked, for me it was mostly Provia as I really liked to cross process, Provia really lets you push and experiment with what is possible. I still shoot film on occasion and my go to roll is always Provia. I also worked as an assistant, as I began to spend more time on photoshop than in the darkroom, it was obvious the digital revolution was here.
I got a commission to shoot some studio work, and borrowed a Nikon D1 (I was shooting on a Nikon F4s at the time), it was a real wake up call, digital was the future. I invested in Nikon, and gradually moved up the ladder. Yes the shots are lovely, but they never had the same feel as film. For me it is like the difference between CD and Vinyl (I still buy Vinyl), this changed when I got a Fujifilm X100 in my hands.
As an introduction to Fujifilm, the X100 was like opening my eyes to photography again, it’s a real gem. Fujifilm developing their XTrans Sensor has been the strongest selling point for me, it feels closer to film than any other digital camera I have ever shot on, for me that is very important. Having a fixed 35mm (equivalent) lens, in full rangefinder mode it really brings it back to what photography is about, telling a story, composition and exposure.
I have left the UK and now live in Taiwan, I am a full time professional photographer shooting Commercial and Editorial work throughout Asia and the rest of the world. I also shoot assignments for National Geographic Traveller (NGT), last year I was looking for something light and versatile with my travel work in mind. I looked around and decided the Fujifilm XE2 would be a good choice, it has the XTrans sensor I love, so I knew it would be
great in all light conditions, it is light (very important if you have to carry a camera all day in hot countries) and uses Fujinon glass. It has been with me ever since, every image in my latest work for NGT was shot on my XE2 around Singapore. I refer to it as my petite powerhouse.
A few weeks ago I got my Fujifilm XPro2, it is awesome, not only in a traditional street environment that you would find rangefinders users in, but I love it in the studio too. Since I got it, I have shot a fashion shoot and a portrait in the studio, and a location fashion shoot, as well as having it with me every time I leave the house. It has all the best features of my XE2 and X100 combined with plenty extra added, I am really enjoying working with this well built and sturdy camera. At the heart of course is the XTrans sensor, which for me has put the organic feeling back into my images that I used to feel from film.