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Last Update: Wednesday June 23, 2021

Key Idea: Control Your Processes

Ken Duncan tired of trusting others with his art.  He decided to invest big bucks in the technology and machines needed to take his work from the camera to the customer.     More...

Key Question:


Own the supply chain.

Q:  What has Ken Duncan done along the way to make sure customers can buy a picture that has the "WOW" factor?

A: He took over the processing of his pictures and the publishing of his books.

Q: Why would an artist want employees and expensive equipment?

A: It might seem strange to see an artist fooling with employees and expensive processing equipment. We tend to think that artists are moody and private. But, they are driven to achieve perfection.

Artists can see in their mind's eye what they want and when vendors failed to match up to his expectations, Ken convinced Pam, his wife and business partner, that they should spend a half a million dollars to outfit a world-class photography lab. When we compromise we suffer from a dumbing-down effect.

Compromise does irreparable psyche damage to ourselves and to everyone in the enterprise. When we all know our product/service could be better but keep doing the things that are easy, we become smaller than we could be. We miss huge opportunity to tap the genius of employees. We end up being price rather than quality driven.

Think about it

What parts of your supply chain are weak? What can you do to make them perfect?

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

Control Your Processes

KEN: (Voiceover) Dominated by its famous Harbour Bridge and Opera House, Sydney is without doubt one of the most beautiful cities in the world.

As the day dawns, Sydney slowly shakes the slumber of night. The harbor has had minimal traffic throughout the night, and its mirrored surface reflects the glory of the coming day.

KEN: It's fun when you're taking photographs because it's like a play happening before you. It's just sitting there and just things are happening. And the clouds are floating by, the moon's changing position, the light's changing.

The reason most people don't get some of the good pictures is because they're just not prepared to wait. Everybody wants it here and now.

HATTIE: (Voiceover) Spending hours and hours to set up and sometimes days waiting for the right conditions, today Ken does not put his work in the hands of others.

KEN: I was disappointed when I did my first book with the way the publishers did it. I felt the result wasn't good. Everybody else seemed to be happy with it, but I wasn't, and their attitude was, `Well, people don't really know what quality is, you know. It's all about price.' And I thought, `Wrong! People do know what quality's about, and I don't want to be associated with just quality at a price. I want to do the best.' And they said, `Oh, well, you know,' and in the end, I thought, `I'm going to do it myself.'

(Voiceover) So I thought, `We'll publish books.'

HATTIE: (Voiceover) Taking control of the publishing was important, but even more critical to the quality was to take control of the film.

KEN: Yeah, we're going to take you down to see where we make all these things. Yeah, it's fun.

HATTIE: (Voiceover) At his own lab that does work for other photographers as well, Ken is like a proud father.

KEN: Natasha runs a great team down here. She's been with us for a long time. She's putting the transparency or the original chrome--or slides, some people call them--onto a drum so that it can be scanned and turned into digital information. And she's done that from using oil to oil-mounted it so that you get a really smooth surface and you get a very good high-end scan that really shows your highlights and also your shadow detail. Using flatbed scanners, you won't get the same sort of detail that you'll get in a high-end drum scan. Also, you'll get much better sharpness. With the other scanners, they tend to sort of try and re-create the sharpness by using electronic means, whereas it's best to get it as sharp as you can so you get every bit of quality out of it you can.

Not many labs do this because they don't want to spend the time oil-mounting or doing high-end files. They want to try and give a client the quickest result, and they think that people don't care about quality. But for us, we want the best. And you've got to be very careful when you put them on the drum, because that transparency can be worth a couple of hundred thousand dollars.

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