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Last Update: Wednesday June 23, 2021

Key Idea: Get Up Early

Ken Duncan says that there is no substitute for long hours.  Often he heads out to take pictures before the sun comes up.   Here he was leaving an early session on the Sydney Harbor.     More...

Key Question:


Beat your competition to the punch.  While Ken Duncan literally does get up early, we suggest this is more about a way of thinking than it is about setting the alarm for 5 am.  Always be looking at perfecting your product, your processes, and people!

Why is Ken Duncan a great example of a business owner who follows this advice?

A:  Ken Duncan says he gets up early to get great photos. He also advises that if others want to get great photos that they get up early to be ready for what might turn out to be a spectacular light show as the sun rises. However, Ken Duncan also teaches us that being first to offer super-wide, high-quality pictures has been a brilliant business idea. A search of our library would produce many successful small business owners who were first to market with an exceptional product or service. Getting up early then can mean that your business is in the lead.

If you decide to be first to market, you must prepare for a long-term ramp up to profitability. Ken kept expenses low and prepared himself to live simply because taking pictures was more important to him that making a lot of money. Fortunately, Ken has ended up making more money than he ever dreamed he would and he has grown his company way beyond his startup expectations.

  Business is about making money. If you don't make money, you're offering goods and services to people who may pay you but what you collect doesn't generate profits after all the bills are paid. In fact, if you don't make money you're not running a business, you're running a charity. What is the difference between earning profits and greed?

A:  We have seen incredible greed exposed in the ENRON, WorldCom, Tyco and HealthSouth cases which are all publicly traded companies. Over-the-top excess flaunted by CEOs has made those of us who love capitalism sad. How could these bright, creative, energetic leaders abuse their investors and employees? We have always said here that people have a, "Sliver of Genius." This means that someone who is brilliant at hiding losses can be completely stupid at dealing with people.

Big company CEOs must spend all of their time with spreadsheets and isolate themselves from the people on their payroll. They couldn't possibly know people who come in everyday and work hard and treat them with such disdain.

Greed is rooted in fear and solipsism. The thinking that proceeds action has to be about, "I may not have enough for myself so I better take it while it is here." Or, "I am the beginning and the end of this company. Every other person is simply doing what flows from my direction. Therefore, I get all the goodies."

The difference between earning profits and greed is a sense of fairness. All businesses have a life cycle. If you invent something it is possible you will earn huge profits until others copy you and drive the price down. You are not greedy in this situation, you are enjoying your fair, first-to-market advantage.

Michael Novak has written at least 25 books about capitalism and if you read him you will learn that his theory is, leaders must have a moral compass. There are too many day-to-day decisions being made in running a business to have a rule for every situation.

Q: Can greed work over the long haul?

A:  We don't think so. If you are greedy you may have more cash and toys than another person, but so what? You can't build a strong business that will out live you and be greedy at the same time. Excess cash must be invested in people, real estate, technology and the best equipment available.

Capitalism is the only proven system that can lift people out of poverty. The new Americans prove it to us everyday. Capitalism, and therefore business, is not about greed, it's about creating value. We see greedy people running businesses and they spoil the game for those of us who love helping everyone around us to be prosperous.

Think about it

How do you stay competitive?

Is your company first in it's field?
Are you working on launching a "first-to-market" product or service?
Could you? Should you?

Clip from: Ken Duncan Photography

Siesta Beach, Florida, a picture from America Wide: In God We Trust

Sydney, Australia:   Meet a man whose goal in life is to capture perfect moments and translate them into some of the most beautiful photography you'll ever see.

He carved out a niche by automating his art. Meet Ken Duncan; he truly sees the magnificence of all of creation around us and he would like us all to stop  and take it in.  Art is life, and art has staying power.  Perhaps if we do, we might also make our business as a work of art as well.

If you want to create a great business, focus on perfecting the products and services. In the struggle to make the processes just a little better, you will be creating something of even greater value. You can do it. Yes, you can.  And, as you do, you'll make our world a better place.   Ken should inspire you on your way.

Ken Duncan Galleries

Ken Duncan, Founder

Shop 14, Hunter Valley Gardens Village
Broke Rd

61 2 4367 7744

Visit our web site:

Office: 61 2 4367 7744

Business Classification:
Photography, retail

Year Founded: 1988

Get Up Early

HATTIE : (In the Studio) Hi, I'm Hattie Bryant. Business is not about greed; it's about value and value creation.

And this show is always looking for people who create products and services that inculcate the highest values of humanity.

So much of small business is about food, clothing and shelter. But the big future for us is not in these highly competitive markets, often the domain of big business. Our future is in the individuation market: uniqueness, higher perfections, the best of the best, aesthetics, making it more beautiful than was thought possible to be.

Today, we enter into the future of small business, and it may surprise you that at the front edge are artists: people who see what cannot be seen; people who hear what has never been heard before; people who think not just outside the box, but about new boxes. There is a deep-seated interiority where the boxes are tetrahedrons and octahedrons and where simplicity meets complexity and where we see our world and ourselves in new ways.

Ken Duncan started taking pictures to feed our souls, so maybe his business is about food.

HATTIE: (Voiceover) Let's go just north of Sydney, Australia, to meet a prolific photographer who will teach us about the art of business and the business of art.

KEN:  Well art to me is capturing the beauty of God’s creation, that’s to me.  Something outside of you that you tap into.   Time tells what true art is.  True art transcends time.  How could you be stressed about life when you’re sitting there seeing this.

HATTIE:  Ken Duncan is founder of what today includes five galleries and a profitable Web site that sell his amazing photography, a custom framing house,  a publishing house and one of the most modern printing laboratories in the world.  The art can be purchased as very large limited edition prints, or in breath-taking collections published in book form or on DVD.

With a team of 54 employees, he and his wife Pam love working in and on the business they started in 1980.

KEN:  Our vision statement is to show the beauty of God’s creation.  That’s it.  I want to open people up to the potential of bigger pictures.  All I’m trying to say is, hey look.  There’s something out there bigger than us.  When you’re out in these wonderful places the less of you the more you can sense God’s awesome creation and his anointing.  Now not every photo of mine has that anointing but every now and then God gives me these little gifts, you know.  Just to humble me.

HATTIE:  Give our viewers who like to take pictures a little  photography lesson.

KEN:  Well, the best photography lesson is, get out of bed.

HATTIE: You mean, because it's the morning?

KEN: Yeah, not many people are out there at sunrise, you know. If you want to take photos, it's the best time, because most people are still thinking, `Well, maybe one day I'll get out of bed and take a photo.' And hopefully, as the sun comes up, the weather's going to be awesome. Praise God.

HATTIE: (Voiceover) Let's try to understand how Mr. Duncan achieves his distinctive look. It's low-tech in the field. He shoots film, big film. He coined and trademarked the word `panograph,' which is a panoramic photograph by Ken Duncan; a wide shot capturing the essence of a place at a particular point in time. Mr. Duncan reflects back to the late '70s.

KEN: Well, in those days, no one was doing wide because they said, `It doesn't fit in a book. It doesn't fit on a television,' you know. Well, I thought, `Well, why can't they change the book, you know? We need to get the book wider,' you know, because I love the format, because that's the way we see. We see in panorama.

HATTIE: (Voiceover) Ken's main camera is a Lindhof 617-3S, with three interchangeable lenses: 180mm, 90mm and 72mm.

KEN: One thousand, 2,000...

HATTIE: (Voiceover) It uses 120-roll film and gives four shots to a roll, with an image size of 6-by-17 centimeters. He prefers Hitech filters, a Sekonic light meter and Fuji film.

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