James Duncan Davidson is a photographer, author, and software developer. Duncan has been a photographer for TED since 2009, was the photographer for Mission Blue, and led the TEDxOilSpill Expedition.
Before concentrating on photography professionally, Duncan worked for a decade as a software developer. In the mid 1990's before finishing up a degree in architecture, he parlayed an interest in Mosaic and the World Wide Web into a job with a technology startup that created the some of the very first e-commerce websites, including the first few versions of the Hilton Hotels website—one of the first to feature real time reservations of hotel rooms. It's commonplace now, but at the time, it was fairly unique.
In 1997, Duncan went to work at JavaSoft, part of Sun Microsystems. His first assignment was as an engineer on the Java Web Server. Later on, he took on the task of formalizing the Java Servlet specification and writing a reference implementation. The reference implementation was originally called the Java Servlet Web Development Kit, but was later known by it’s true name, Tomcat, after being donated by Sun to the Apache Software Foundation. Duncan also was the original creator of Ant, the software build tool of choice for Java programmers. If you've ever worked on Java-based software, you or your toolchain has most likely used Ant.
After leaving Sun in 2001, Duncan became an independent consultant and author. He has authored and contributed to many books on Mac OS X, Cocoa, and Ruby on Rails. His dream is to continue to walk the line between technology and photography and see where it takes him.
Photography, people, technology, and the connection between all of them.
Photography, people, technology. I'm interested in anything that involves an intersection of these three things.
Being able to follow hunches to answers. It made going through the American public education system a nightmare, but has served me well ever since.
I've wanted to attend TED since I first heard of it in the late 1990s. Over the years, I've been happy to see its visibility rise and the ideas shared at it get broader recognition. Several years ago when I started photographing events professionally, I asked myself what one event did I absolutely aspire to shoot. What one event would I be most proud to bring my skills and my visual creativity to. The answer: TED.
In 2007, I got the chance to meet June Cohen at the Web 2.0 Summit in San Francisco. During an excellent and wide ranging conversation, I every so gently mentioned that if there ever was an opportunity to photograph at TED, I would be there and left it at that. No hard sell. Just a hope that I could have the opportunity someday. Two years later, I was a photographer at TED2009 in Long Beach. Then TED called me back for TEDGlobal 2009 in the UK and then TEDIndia a few months later. I've since photographed every major TED event since.
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