I find myself blessed in so many ways, not the least of which is for having developed an interest in a field, photography, where so many great men and women have blazed a path before me without restricting where I can go from here.
We lost a great one a couple days ago with the death of noted war photographer David Douglas Duncan. Duncan passed away at the age of 102 in Grasse, France, reportedly from complications from pneumonia.
Duncan served with the US Marine Corps during World War II and became a combat photographer. His experience guided him into photographing further conflicts such as the Korean War and Vietnam, focusing on the people on the front lines. In an inhumane environment, he captured humanity at its best, and at its worst. He tried to capture a sense of what those on the front lines were experiencing when nothing in their future was guaranteed.
Duncan also became a close friend of Pablo Picasso chronicling the painter’s career and was the only photographer allowed to photograph many of Picasso’s private works.
In 2017 Duncan was featured in a short video commissioned by Nikon as part of their 100th anniversary celebration, (https://youtu.be/UUvHAa1M7D4) and it was through this video that I first became fully aware of Duncan’s work and his efforts in promoting Nippon Kogaku (Nikon) in their development and growth in post-war Japan. The feature, which was created primarily with photos and video by Joe McNally and video by Drew Gurian reinforces McNally’s belief that those who practice photography today, have the photographers who came before them to thank for much that they are able to achieve. That we all stand on the shoulders of those who came before us is a philosophy that I strive to reinforce with my students.
Today, we have one less pair of shoulders to support us, but maybe those who learned and were inspired by people like David Douglas Duncan absorbed enough to continue to support all of those who rely on them for guidance and inspiration.
Rest in peace David, and thank you for everything you shared with us.