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Duncan Davidson

Portland, OR, United States

TED Photographer

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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.

Stories by Duncan Davidson:


Setting up for TED2013: Backstage photosSetting up for TED2013: Backstage photos

Posted By Duncan Davidson

A monumental amount of effort goes into setting up for TED. This year’s iteration in Long Beach is no different. Construction of our stage started on Wednesday, and it wasn’t long before the entire Long Beach Performing Arts Center was full of the buzz of technicians, workers and artists getting ready for next week.   […]


Tech report: Thunderbolt in the Media CaveTech report: Thunderbolt in the Media Cave

Posted By Duncan Davidson

All photos by James Duncan Davidson, who writes: In the lower right photograph, there are twelve 12TB Pegasus R6 arrays. That’s 144TB total. It’s a tenth of a freaking petabyte of usable space. Backstory: During a TED conference, we create a lot of data — five days of high-res video from nine cameras, tens of […]


Lo-fi photos from TED2012Lo-fi photos from TED2012

Posted By Duncan Davidson

To document TED, the photo team uses every camera at hand. Big digital SLRs with huge lenses are perfect for photographing the stages, but some moments can simply sing when captured with an iPhone and processed with Instagram. Here are a few of my favorites from TED2012 that I collected while in between sessions. Duncan […]


Shooting the Full Spectrum speaker portraits

Posted By Duncan Davidson

Keeping with the spirit of the Full Spectrum Auditions earlier this week, TED photo editor Mike Femia and myself—photographer Duncan Davidson—decided to add something a bit new and different to our photo coverage of the event. The result is a set of speaker portraits that we made in the break between the afternoon rehearsals and […]

More lo-fi photography from TED2011

Posted By Duncan Davidson

In the middle of TED, I’m almost inseparable from my big Nikons. In the spirit of continuing my little lo-fi TED photography project, however, I kept snapped off a few frames every time I pulled out my iPhone to stay in touch with the rest of the media team during the event. Here’s a batch […]


Lo-fi photography at TED2011

Posted By Duncan Davidson

Usually when I’m photographing at TED, I’m using heavy digital SLRs with lots of lenses. This year, however, I’m also making a few fun photos with the most modest of cameras, my iPhone using the Instagram app. Here are a few of my favorites so far as the team gets the venue ready for TED. […]