For 2016, The HodgePodge Lifestyle decided to have a section for profiles of people who are worth featuring to share with us their successes in their chosen fields. It’s to inspire people to pursue their dreams in their chosen careers.
Photo courtesy of Carlos Restrepo
Meet Joel Duncan, 35, a talented photographer based in Medellin, Colombia. We chose Joel as our first person for our profile feature section for The HodgePodge Lifestyle as his work is utterly admirable. His forte are travel, people and wedding photography.
Carnaval in Baranquilla, Colombia
What’s your passion in life?
Many people seem to narrow down their passion to one activity. They say, x is the thing that they would do even if someone didn’t pay them to do it. Others say that your passion is your ‘why’. Why you do what you do and what drives you to do that thing. So passion then isn’t really for me a specific activity but the why I do things.
I would have to say that my passion is ‘experiencing & sharing a fun life. I do several activities to experience life and have fun doing it. My philosophy is to do as much of whatever makes me feel good and makes others feel good. For the past 5 years that thing has been predominantly photography. I get to experience many things, see beautiful places, and meet interesting people with my camera. I also get to share all of those things with people who I know and strangers who come across my work.
How did you began in the industry you chose?
I began photographing because I started to do freelance travel writing and I started my own blog. It was clear that in order to sell more articles to magazines, I needed to have good photos to go along with the words. My sister happens to be a professional portrait photographer and gave me her old Nikon D70 camera to use on my trips. For me it was one of those cliche love stories–love at first click. Being able to share some of the cool things that I saw and tell entire stories with one image really excited me.
Secondly, since childhood I had an obsession with art–mainly drawing and painting. After high school, I stopped drawing [and] shifted entirely to studying for my bachelors degree at university. I chose to leave art behind and study something that I figured would pay me more money in the future. So, I studied management and economics. Once I picked the camera up, it was like a return to my past. A return to what I loved to do growing up–creating images.
San Miguel de Allende in Guanajuato, México
What are the obstacles you encountered before reaching your success?
I have had several obstacles along the way. I had successes but I still don’t think that I have reached my ‘success’. I continue to improve everyday and I face new obstacles with every rising of the sun. One of the biggest obstacles was trying to establish myself in a new country (Colombia) with little to no money, no contacts, and a foreign language. In the business of photography, having a good network and portfolio is very important. When I arrived in Medellin, where I wanted to stay and live, I had neither of the two. To overcome this obstacle, I had to put in a lot of work. Meaning, I had to photograph more and other photographers, improve faster, and get my work seen and recognized by more people.
What are the accomplishments in your life that you’re proud of?
I am proud of many things in my life. I am proud that I can honestly say that if I am disciplined I can achieve anything that I want to. Whether it is fast tracking through high school, improving from a C- student to an A student in University, being promoted 3 times in two years while working in Marketing … and the list goes on. However, what I am really proud of and I mentioned, is being able to change my life when it needs to be changed and accomplishing that I set out to do. The latest thing of pride is being able to relocate to Colombia and start a new life as a photographer and entrepreneur after working in the corporate world in Canada.
A man in India
Who inspired you to pursue your passion in life?
My parents have always encouraged me to do what I want to do but to do it to the best of my abilities. However, most of my inspiration came about 6 years ago from 2 books: The Secret and The 4-hour Work Week. So for me it is more ‘what’ inspired me. These two books helped me to change the way I saw myself and my ability to control the outcome of my life.
What can kind of advice would you give to your younger self?
Take more risks and eliminate fear of all types from your life.
How many years did it took until you can say you’ve made it?
I still haven’t made it. I am making it every day. I am not sure I will ever say that I have made it but if that day comes, I will answer this question.
A dog from O.R.C.A. (Organización por el Cuidado y el Respeto Animal)
Where can we see your craft?
You can see my work on my website www.joelduncanphotography.com and my Facebook and Instagram accounts. Although I haven’t had work in a gallery for a few years now, I am sure that I will have some sort of show in the next year. There are different online and print magazines that use my photos of Colombia and Medellin.
What else do you want to achieve with your passion or craft?
So many things. I would love to be published all over the world and be recognized as one of the best in my craft. My work is slowly being seen in more places–magazines, billboards, bus stops, websites, TV, etc. However, I always want more. I want to be on the pages of [the] National Geographic, Conde Naste, and other big names.
I want to make books and collaborate with great artists and writers on game changing projects. I want people in and out of the industry to see something unique and different in my work. I want people to see that ‘passion’ for living and life in my photos. I want to begin to hear that my work somehow changed and influenced others in a positive way.
A wedding in India
What advice can you give to people who are still starting or trying to make it big?
The same as I would give say to my younger self: Take Risks. Nothing risked is nothing gained. I would also tell them to stop making excuses and start doing. The most important thing is to start. Take the first step. If you want to be a writer, start with a page. Don’t start with a book … start by writing a work, then a paragraph, then a chapter, then a book. I think that most people who are just starting up never go too far because they get afraid and stop what they are doing. Another thing is to do the best damn job that you can do. Don’t take short cuts.
The Cinnamon Bey Resort in Sri Lanka
For more of Joel Duncan’s Photography, please visit his following online accounts at: