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About Me

Museum and Heritage Photographer

Museum and Heritage Photographer Duncan Shields PhD

My name is Duncan Shields, and I’m addicted to photography. It’s been a life long passion and for over 20 years I’ve been taking, studying, collecting, and generally obsessing about photography.

I am both a photographer and a photographic historian.

As a photographer I am particularly interested in people and the places we inhabit.  I love being able to capture something of the subject’s personality, life story or character in a photograph, whether that is a person or a building.

Naturally, my photographic practice is informed by my academic studies. I have a BA in Art History from Leicester University (where I won the Willis Memorial prize for art history), an MA from the Courtauld Institute of Art and a PhD in photographic history from the British Museum and Photographic History Research Centre, Leicester under the expert supervision of Elizabeth Edwards (recently named one of 50 key thinkers on photography).  

My PhD research focused on how academic information (in this case Mesoamerican Mayan archaeological sites from the 1880's) is preserved, transmitted and interpreted through photography - namely how photography was, and can be, used to preserve a place and inform people about that place.

My academic practice also means I am an expert in photographic collection management and archive cataloguing, as well as photographic theory, historic processes and photographic curation.

I love to use film and alternative types of photography; such as the 19th century wet plate process. I do use digital cameras and modern technology but I am passionate about keeping these old photography techniques alive; there is something incredibly beautiful about the tone and look of film photography.

Perhaps it goes back to my childhood and getting my first camera (a second hand Yashica 35mm manual camera) for Christmas when I was 13 and running around my house taking photos of all my family. Having to wait three weeks for the pictures to come back was difficult, but the excitement is something I still enjoy today - although I now process all my own film so I don’t have to wait 3 weeks.

I have photographed commissions for charities and businesses, weddings, and portraits for a variety of clients. These days I concentrate on photographing heritage sites and museums. My academic practice has given me a unique insight into how photography can be used for the heritage and museum industry and my passion is to use my photographic skills to provide a comprehensive service that can cover all of the needs a museum, or historic building or place, requires, without breaking the bank. I would be delighted to hear how I can help you achieve the photography you need.

I also offer a consultancy, providing institutions advice regarding photographic archiving or specialised research into your photographic collection and the curatorial possibilities that could benefit you – For further details see the Photo History tab or get in touch.