At 11 years old he spent 5 hours recreating Dover fairy port with Legos after a family holiday to France.
Hamish Duncan is a documentary photographer based in Edinburgh, Scotland.
Visualization has been key in Hamish's life, which is why he took photography. The vision is what drives him to create the photo, but in the moment he focuses on the shot, and it's in those moments that he adjusts and gets the shot.
He was always interested in nature and always involved in making dens in the forest and he loved observing things.
Flow With It
Hamish does a lot of thinking about how the picture should look beforehand and how it looks afterwards.
But he tries to leave it out when he’s taking photos; he tries to just relax and flow with it. “Especially with documentary, cause you’re trying to capture moments, you just gotta want to think about potential scenarios that might come out in certain situations that you might wana be interested to document. But you can’t fix those things or have fixed ideas in place for those things.”
Hamish's interests are quite broad, like plastics pollution, and anything related to the environment, but he always finds it easy to talk about projects he’s already done.
He says that it’s very easy to get distracted, especially these days.
As Covid took over, Hasmish couldn’t find a way to go out and document what is happening during the pandemic. So he chose to do some sketch work, and also work on his archive.
“I think you always have to be interested in research. I really like research… if I don’t know something, then I’ll go online and find it…”
A New Interest
Recently, he started being more interested in brutalist architecture; as his dad is an architect.
“Whilst you’re researching, you’re finding out and learning new things about the subject that actually you start to find these little intersections, and I think when you can get two little abstract ideas or words and put them together… something magic happens in the middle.”
By words he means two words that don’t go well together, and coming up with a creative idea.
How To Get Projects That You Care About
Hamish also finds writing very helpful; writing about photography, writing about what you’re seeing, writing about how you’re shooting it, and storyboarding, and having that kind of artistic approach to it really helps.
He likes the creative process, and he finds it exciting.
Hamish tells you to take risks and he thinks everybody finds it hard to email a company or an ngo on something that they really admire. As soon as you admire something you find it really hard to email and reach out. Though it’s a very different world now; we can just send an email and show interest in the work and offer your idea and collaboration.
Try to keep it in one concise email.
When they get that email, they will see that you’re interested, they will see that you’re inspired by what they’re doing, and they see that you’ve done the research, you’ve done the background, and you understand what you’re approaching them about, and that you’re really just in love with this idea.
If you work on those tips, you will get projects that you care about!
“It’s just ideas, and photos are ideas, really… ideas in their nature are kind of violent and there’s this kind of violent nature to the work where you kind of think about something and how you can make these contrasting ideas really snap and get people’s attention and create tension and I think there’s an interesting space there in documentary photography all the time and keeping your eyes open to what’s going on.”
“If you’re not finding the ideas, don’t keep trying to find the ideas, just stop thinking about it, go do something else… get in nature, I found nature is a huge learning tool… If I’m in a forest, I think much more about community and I much more think about how the trees are vying for position but also working together.”
For more of Hamish's interesting and informative talk, watch the video above to hear the full story.
Written by Angela Zoghbi