Snapshot: Duncan Walker

Duncan Walker is soon to turn 50 and hopes to prove that age is just a number when he leaves behind a successful career as an IT Technician in order to pursue his lifelong-dream of becoming a professional photographer. Duncan is always on the hunt for new subjects to test his skills and visited Winterbourne for the first time in September.

“I’ve lived in Birmingham for over 13 years, but my roots are from ‘up North’ as they say. I’m a born and bred Maltby man. For those who don’t know, that’s part of Rotherham, South Yorkshire. I grew up in what was a small mining village at the time. That said, we were surrounded by a great deal of countryside, and I’ve always been a lover of the ‘great outdoors’ and getting back to nature.”

Cardoons in the Walled Garden, photograph by Duncan Walker, Snapshot, Winterbourne House and Garden, Digging for Dirt

Cardoons in the Walled Garden, photograph by Duncan Walker

“When I was a teenager I’d say I was quite an introverted type, sociable, but just lacking in confidence. So I often used to go on walks out into the countryside, to sit on a hill top and just contemplate life in general. From that point you start to see the things that others might overlook; the light falling on a nearby tree, a weird and wonderful plant growing close by, or even a small insect that normally you’d have walked straight past.”

Verbena bonariensis in the Walled Garden, photograph by Duncan Walker, Snapshot, Winterbourne House and Garden, Digging for Dirt

Verbena bonariensis in the Walled Garden, photograph by Duncan Walker

“As I noticed the world around me I just felt the urge to record it, almost a, ‘hey world, look at this’. I ‘people watch’ a lot, not because I’m nosey, more because I love to see human interaction. I’m developing my Street photography skills but much prefer to photograph British wildlife. I guess I should have really become a wildlife reporter of some sort.”

Chard in the Walled Garden, photograph by Duncan Walker, Snapshot, Winterbourne House and Garden, Digging for Dirt

Chard in the Walled Garden, photograph by Duncan Walker

“You’d usually find me with my hands inside a computer, unjamming a printer and many other general jobs that an IT Technician would perform these days. I hope the future holds many opportunities and a clear path to working as a full-time photographer. Making such a leap of faith at my age is far more daunting than it would have been, say twenty years ago. I do wish I’d listened to my younger self and made that push a lot sooner.”

Squash in the Walled Garden, photograph by Duncan Walker, Snapshot, Winterbourne House and Garden, Digging for Dirt

Squash in the Walled Garden, photograph by Duncan Walker

“My general style of photography has become far simpler over the years. I have realised that less is often far more. A simple smile on a person’s face can say more than a whole crowd of people, or a single flower can seem more beautiful than a whole bunch. You can’t force creativity. I don’t want to be a slave to my camera, life isn’t always there to be photographed, it’s there to be enjoyed as well.”

Cosmos in the Walled Garden, photograph by Duncan Walker, Snapshot, Winterbourne House and Garden, Digging for Dirt

Cosmos in the Walled Garden, photograph by Duncan Walker

“Sharing photographs on social media such as Instagram can be a double-edged sword. It can boost your confidence or it can have the opposite effect when you see an incredible photograph from someone else. My advice is never to compare yourself to others, be inspired by a great photo, not disheartened. Would you compare your seedling to a fully-grown tree and feel you’d failed? What you know in six months’ time will be more than you know now.”

The Plot Exhibition in the 'Old Boiler Room', photograph by Duncan Walker, Snapshot, Winterbourne House and Garden, Digging for Dirt

The Plot Exhibition in the ‘Old Boiler Room’, photograph by Duncan Walker

“I stumbled across Winterbourne while searching for places to go just to get out and about and maybe take some photographs. After looking at the website it certainly sparked my interest and I was eager to visit before the beauty of the gardens had faded and Autumn had set in. I’d assumed that in such a populated area, a hidden gem such as Winterbourne was the last thing I’d find. I was totally wrong and happy to be so!”

The Book Shop and Walled Garden, photograph by Duncan Walker, Snapshot, Winterbourne House and Garden, Digging for Dirt

The Book Shop and Walled Garden, photograph by Duncan Walker

“My main regret is that I would have loved a great shot of the house from the outside, with gardens and a wonderful looking sky to finish it off. The day itself was overcast. This meant any shots of the house from the outside, ended up with a blown-out sky, or an underexposed house. I’m sure the experts out there will offer up alternatives to fix that, but I didn’t bring my tripod and I’m not a fan of compositing in fake skies.”

The Printing Press, photograph by Duncan Walker

The Printing Press, photograph by Duncan Walker

“Although I’d mainly gone to look at the gardens, I was lucky to be there on a day when the Printing Press was open. As with the gardens, café and house, the people there were wonderfully inviting and very knowledgeable. I think I spent as much time in those two small rooms discussing and photographing old printing presses as I did in the whole garden. I came away with some photos that I was very pleased with.”

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