Duncan Raban

They say the best things come then you least expect them. I was happy enough to experience it myself. I am going to tell you a story then I decided to take another route on my way home and ended up meeting the most inspiring person I ever knew so far.


My usually trip back home begins at Angel underground station. However, that particular day I decided to walk down Farrington Road. On my way there, I’ve noticed a strange square on top of the Clerkenwell Green hill so I figured I should check it up. On top of the hill, I have noticed a café/hair salon named Lily Meila so I could not resist to a cup of coffee. Then I entered, three men were sitting at a single table covered in children drawings just on the woody top. While I was waiting for my cup, one man invited me to see the studio at the back of the salon. I entered the room and watched the walls covered with photographs. One picture represented a young boy with eye disability. I returned and asked if there was a charity situated at the back of the salon. “Have a seat” - suggested Guven, the owner, “I will call the man, who will explain it”.


I took a seat holding my yellow cup and waited for the other gentleman to come. “My name is Duncan Raban” – he said. “I am Ieva” – I replied. He asked me to tell about myself. I have started my story, beginning with my passion to marketing and the first memory I had about this subject. I them I became interested in the subject after I seeing an ad on McDonalds “Fresh Salads”. I explained the billboard was made of real bushes, real green plants and this was what inspired me the most. Later I started working as an intern at one real estate firm for the two summers. The next summer, I practiced in a telecommunication company. Finally, I came to this summer’s stories. I have told them I wanted to find a job on my own this time, without any previous requests or connections of any kind. I shared my failures with ad agencies, which did not want to employ a youngster with high-school diploma. They were looking for a full-time intern, a potential employee who did not run away to London after three months of summer internship in Lithuania. I told them about my short internship in a magazine, where I participated in three photo shoots taking backstage pictures. Later, I worked in an internet media group selling banner ads, calling up and organizing meetings with potential clients. “After a while, I came interested with designer’s job in that department” – I said. Once I have finished my one-month internship, I got bored and applied for another one. “I wrote them on Facebook after 30 minutes of the launch as a company”. They invited me for an interview and offered a free-of-charge job, which I was happy to take. I told Duncan about my current passion to marketing, my website, desire to take pictures and joy to make jackets out of Vintage clothes. I realized I told my story without knowing anything about this man. “What about yourself?” – I asked.


“I’m just a photographer” – he said. Duncan started the story saying he liked to take pictures of the people without their mask on. He tries to capture “the sparkle in people’s heart” and “their smiles”. The photographer began his career taking football match pictures, and then he got into celebrities photography. He worked with singers such Tina Turner and Michael Jackson. He even photographed Princess Diana. I was already amazed by the man and could not believe I was fortunate to meet him just like that. Duncan also worked in advertising for a few years, later he created a business, until one day everything changed. He realized this did not give any joy. He figured real people did not have a chance to appear as celebrities. He thinks “they are bigger celebrities than those smiley faces on the red carpet”. So he started to make photos of ordinary people. “Look at those people walking down the street” – he said. “Every person is a celebrity, we just need to lay down a red carpet and tell them to walk on it”.


His other creative activities involve creating characters for toys and take pictures of them doing ordinary things. For example: he would capture three pink sheep going out for grocery shopping. They were place in these small pink carriages, trying to pass the river which in reality was a little puddle. After some time, he showed me his dinosaur Ron which was born just this morning. “He is going to become a promoter of this book called “Empathy”. The author was writing it of ten years, it is brilliant but nobody knows about it. He deserves some help”. After these words, the dinosaur was placed in a plastic lawn with four boiled eggs from Pret-a-Manger, written “Empathy” on them (this was the name of the book). I was holding the background, which were the covers of two books. Duncan also shared his secret of a very special character named Viktor Romance (find the picture of this cool guy). The details will be released together with short videos. The photographer is currently working on this project.


I was also taking pictures of people in the streets. I showed him my online album, following my brand new website. “I am impressed” – he said. “You are only 19 and you do so many things”. I said I was just lucky because I have this opportunity to study in London, to meet those inspiring people, to see this global world. “That is not true” – he said. “You take your camera, go out there and take pictures. You also put effort to create your own website. This is not luck”. I realized he was right. He believed I was going to reach my goals because I am doing everything I can to receive what I wish for. This was such an encouragement. Thank you very much for that, Duncan.


I finally left the place after three hours of endless conversations about the beauty of ordinary people, desire to promote them so they could get an opportunity to shine and be celebrated, about the hard work and reaching your goals and the most important of all – doing what you truly love. Sometimes the idea may appear to be silly, but if you believe in it and are passionate enough, it might come true. You just need not to be afraid to ask and be confident enough to try.

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