Jamie Duncan

22/11/2010 § Leave a comment

“He’s never shown his work in a gallery, doesn’t go to an art school, has no professional training, is pretty much entirely self taught and only posts his photos to his facebook page. He also lives in the suburbs and loves to party.” This is what I was told when I asked a friend if he knew any good photographers worth writing an article about. With the explanation I got, you can understand why I didn’t get my hopes up… but here I am, writing an article about a guy from the suburbs who takes photos and likes to party.

Jamie is 21 years old and was born, raised and lives in St. Catherines, Ontario. He’s a regular guy who does regular things but just happens to love to take photographs. It’s an oddly inspirational thing to come across someone who takes photographs purely for themselves. There’s no exterior influence, no emulating other peoples styles, no historical references, no studio lighting, just a collection of shots cataloguing the life of a normal person. He takes photos of anything and everything. Dinners at friends houses, crazy parties and the trees/cars/pop cans in between. After seeing countless facebook albums of his photos, I had to ask him some questions.

Why don’t we start with something simple: How long have you been taking photos for?

I’ve been taking photos as an active hobby for about 3 years now, starting off with disposable cameras and eventually with my 35 mm SLR.

You take photos a lot, it seems like you don’t go anywhere without your camera. What made you start taking photos so compulsively?

I’ve always been interested in using a camera, trying to display how I perceive images. I wanted to capture specific moments in my life that I may have forgotten. I remember meeting a special person out one afternoon and by taking their photo that memory has carried on and will carry on forever. It really came to my attention that I should carry around a disposable camera with me everywhere and eventually this turned me into an active photojournalist.

Since your work is photojournalistic, what is your favourite subject matter to document?

My subject matter is constantly changing, but as of late and more specifically, I enjoy capturing candid moments of suburban culture where different personalities meet different contexts. These photos are taken to display the activities and characteristics of youth culture. Capturing the environment is a big part of my subject matter because it further provides an understanding of the character context and the relationship I have with these people.

When you’re mainly working with people, I feel like it would always be interesting but could also get frustrating. What do love and hate about taking photos?

I’ll start with my least favourite thing about photography and that is being asked to take someone else’s picture. If I don’t have the right mindset or specific image that I want to churn out, I really don’t feel the need to take a photo, especially if it is being preached toward me. The best thing about photography for me is receiving ultimate satisfaction when my pictures get developed. The excitement of film always puts a genuine smile on my face after the immediate gratification of the prints that I was initially attempting to shoot.

I know you see photo as a hobby but you also consider yourself a photojournalist. I just want to know whether you see photo going anywhere for you or are you content just having it as a hobby?

Photography has always been a passion of mine, more than just a hobby I think. I can see an extreme improvement in my photographs and I don’t see backtracking in this area of work. I’ve finally started to work on my website and have put together the pictures I think go well together. Pursuing photography as a career is the ultimate goal, but the most important part for me is learning to enjoy what I’ve accomplished and how I’m going to be able to remain satisfied with my work.

There are 63 albums on Jamie’s facebook as of now and each album contains a roll or two of film. I’ve looked through a lot of these albums but my favourite part of Jamie’s work has to be his narratives with inanimate objects. He has entire albums dedicated to stories created with stuffed animals or other characters he creates. I saw a great one with a monkey at a festival in St. Catherines. Jamie took this toy monkey and had all sorts of people pose with him, got him a hat, a t-shirt and even a couple of beers. At the beginning of the album the monkey is just another toy but by the end he has become a sort of mascot for the festival. Though it seemed silly when I first looked at it and probably seems silly when described, the playful nature of the narrative really made me like the series a lot.

People tend to take photography very seriously, especially photo artists – which they should – but it’s nice to come across someone with a light hearted side to their work. There’s no posing and in some cases no reason but there is good framing, interesting compositions and great photographs. Jamie Duncan is a living reason to reconsider why we take photographs. If anything, he should inspire us to take more photos of the things we see in our everyday life, the things we enjoy, and the people we know.

Thanks, Jamie.

If you want to check out more of Jamie’s work or contact him, you can check out his blog Here


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