Photographer Duncan Robb - a life behind the lens

Duncan Robb

Duncan Robb - Credit: Archant

Meet photographer Duncan Robb, who in finding a way to impart his skill and knowledge, has discovered the perfect work/life balance

Photography by Duncan Robb, Red Dog Photography

Photography by Duncan Robb, Red Dog Photography - Credit: Archant

Forty years ago Duncan Robb never thought he’d find himself living in the Peak District, training photographers to take better pictures and taking enthusiasts on photographic breaks. But he couldn’t be happier.

‘What’s not to love,’ he comments, ‘I live and work in beautiful countryside and help people discover their creativity.’

Originally from Hexham in Northumberland, Duncan started his working life as the sixth generation of a family department store and since then has enjoyed a varied and absorbing career, with photography at the core.

Duncan’s love of photography started at an early age and grew through teenage years and early twenties when he would spend weekends shooting rolls of film.

Peak District landscape by Duncan Robb, Red Dog Photography

Peak District landscape by Duncan Robb, Red Dog Photography - Credit: Archant

‘The subject matter was mostly motorbikes,’ Duncan recalls. ‘I would devote hours developing the negatives and producing prints in my darkroom, and the experience stood me in good stead for the future.’

When his family business was sold in the late 1980s, Duncan got hooked into the burgeoning sport of Triathlon as both competitor and event organiser and he ended up running the sport’s governing body before setting up an industry publication, 220 The Triathlon Magazine.

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‘My photographic abilities went through a steep learning curve as I needed to be able to capture the atmosphere and excitement of the sport,’ Duncan says. ‘It was also during that time I got to grips with the emerging technology of digital imaging.’

The magazine flourished and was bought out by one of the national distributors, where it continues today as one of the best-selling monthly publications for the sport. Duncan moved into event management and through working with media and PR firms, his camera skills were called upon again to supply promotional pictures and create a record of events.

Sunshine barn, the Osmaston base of Red Dog Photography

Sunshine barn, the Osmaston base of Red Dog Photography - Credit: Archant

Duncan’s long term dream to set up full time as a professional photographer eventually happened when a change in life circumstances and a move to the Midlands gave him the means to make it happen. Duncan became the official photographer for the British Chambers of Commerce and the British Association of Professional Conference Organisers. ‘My work meant I was covering events throughout the country and my pictures started to appear in national newspapers and magazines. I’ve “shot” several dozen senior politicians as well as many high profile business leaders,’ says Duncan, wryly.

Duncan established Red Dog Photography in 2004 and has recently started sharing his knowledge and enthusiasm for photography through training courses at his studios near Ashbourne and through the development of short photography breaks on locations throughout the Peak District. Based in converted farm buildings in the picturesque village of Osmaston, the training courses are aimed at all levels of ability from absolute beginners to those with a little more experience wanting some guidance on getting the best out of their camera.

The Peak District Photography Breaks bring together Duncan’s love of the region and his appetite for photography. ‘The short break packages combine tuition and guidance from some of the best landscape photographers in the country with accommodation in a selection of the finest hotels in the region,’ Duncan explains. ‘The breaks – either one or two days – give those with a love of the great outdoors and an interest in photography an unforgettable experience. What better subject matter for a photography break than the landscape of the Peak District?’

Looking back over his career to date, Duncan appreciates his good fortune in being able to follow his passion and build it into his working life. ‘When I was younger I just assumed I’d always be living and working in Hexham and photography was just a hobby. Now I feel part of Derbyshire and the Peak District and the photography has become so much more. I get huge satisfaction from seeing the delight on students’ faces as they discover what they can do with their camera with a little time and a few pointers.’ w

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