Awe of God Informs the Heart

Video / Produced by partner of TOW

Ken Duncan lives in awe of God. You can see it on his face and in his work. Mr. Duncan is one of the world’s most important photographers and here he tells how God directed him to his passion.


HATTIE: It is beautiful. (Voiceover) Through the years, Ken Duncan has shown so much to so many. He takes us to places we may not be able to go ourselves.

Starting with the landscape of his own country, we learn from these pictures that the continent of Australia is spectacular.

KEN (Voiceover): It's the land that links us. You know, we've got to wake up. We've got to realize we're on a journey together. And we can have the adventure of a lifetime if we start to realize we're all on the same boat.

(Voiceover) Waterways remind me of God's love for us. Pure, freely given, unconditional, utterly life-giving. Our lives are truly small compared with the vast world around us. We are linked with this land. If we take the time to enjoy it, it will nourish our souls. Waterways remind me of God's love for us: pure, freely given, unconditional, utterly life-giving. To get this shot, we camped for two days on the top of Mt. Amos waiting for a break in the light. When it finally came, we were rewarded with this awesome view of Tasmania's Freycinet Peninsula and surrounding sea. Patience is all about relaxing and enjoying the moment, entering into the rhythm of what's happening around you.

HATTIE: So, Ken, when was the first time you realized that you could take a picture?

KEN: Well, when I was young, my dad used to take so long taking photographs that if someone didn't do something, we would have spent our whole life behind the camera all going, 'Come on, Dad,' you know, like--so my lovely dad, but ... photography just was not his calling. So I sort of commandeered the family camera to get the thing over and done with quicker.

So that's how I started. About 16, I really found out more about photography and I fell in love with photography. And after that, to the detriment of my schoolwork, I just loved taking photos. I was shy when I was a kid. I loved it with a camera, because with a camera, you could go right up to a girl and look right into her eyes or into any person or situation.

You always had a reason to be there. No one ever questioned what you're doing there. So you get to see life far grander than just seeing it from one little perspective.

HATTIE: When was the first time someone actually bought a picture?

KEN: Well, I had to start at a very early age because my mom and dad -- they were lovely people but they weren't well-off, and they said, 'Son, if you're wanting to do this photography, you're going to have to make it pay because we can't afford all of this stuff.' I wasn't brought up in a family with rejection. I had a mother who always said, 'You can do anything you want to,' and, you know, I was stupid enough to believe it. So that was one of the things that really helped me. You see, a lot of people don't succeed because they take things too personally. A lot of photographers, they're too scared to go and show people their work because they're scared that people might say, 'I don't like it.'

When I left school, my teacher said to me, `You are the least likely person to succeed.' After I left school, I thought, 'Well, I'll show you attitude,' and so I went off trying to pursue the great Australian Dream, which is probably very close to the great American Dream, of having a house, you know, possessions, fast cars, money and all this sort of stuff, and a wife and 2.5 children. Now I had all the rest, but I wasn't very happy and I wasn't prepared to go for the wife and 2.5 children because, you know, the rest wasn't working, so I...

HATTIE: OK, so you had the car, the house, the successful business.

KEN: Well, I was selling photography. I was selling equipment, you know, high-end photographic equipment. So I turned my love into a means of making money. And the trouble with that is, you know, if you turn your passion into just a stream of making money, you can lose your passion. And I began to lose my passion. I was talking photography rather than taking photography. I took this camera that we had imported from overseas, a panoramic camera, and I took it over to Bali on a surfing holiday.

HATTIE: ... so you were a surfer?

KEN: Yeah, I love to surf, you know. And we were over there for some big waves.

And one day when I was out in the water, I saw this big mountain called Mt. Agung, and I thought, 'Man, I've got to climb that thing, you know.' And the mountain was, like, 10,500 feet high, so it was quite a mountain. It was quite an adventure. We got up there for sunrise and we shot--it was just clear all the way down this island, and I took this photograph with this camera.

And I said, 'Well, God, if you're real, you know, it'd be really good to get a bit of help because this money thing's not really doing it for me.'

This video serves as an illustration of developing character in "What Do the Proverbs Have to do With Work?" in Proverbs and Work at