Duncan McKenzie, surf shots aside, he was exceptional at capturing candid portraits of people of all ages enjoying the beach. Pic: Brian Asher

Monday, 31 July 2017

A big-hearted human, a fine photographer, and a friend to so many: Over the past few days we’ve had many emails from Southern Californian surfers, fellow photographers, and friends of all ages, shattered by the loss of Duncan McKenzie.

If you’ve followed the daily PLB Hot Shots on our website and social media you’ll have seen many of Duncan’s beautiful photos up there over the past few years. We also ran some of his photos in print, and first became aware of Duncan when he emailed a bunch of great surf shots accompanied by a note saying that he didn’t want to be paid, and that he just loved shooting all sorts of people and he enjoyed giving them a buzz when they saw their photo out and about. For Duncan that was the reward. And he would send everyone he could their own copy. His motivation was that pure.

Unfortunately I never got to meet Duncan but we exchanged many emails and a friendly banter over the years. I loved seeing his emails land in the In Box. Great photos aside, he always wrote some witty and generous note about the people in the surf shots – which were always handy for the caption btw.

Beyond his sense of humour you got the feeling that here was a deep thinker, and when I asked what he did for a living he said he was a psychologist who’d written a couple of books, but he was quite modest about that. I googled and those books were the profound and highly regarded preterist tomes “The Antichrist and the Second Coming: A Preterist Examination, Vol I and Vol II”. (Available through Amazon by the way.)

If you’d liked to see just how much Duncan is missed by the surfers and beach lovers of Malibu, Leo Carillo, Rincon and spots between, go to his Facebook page (link below) and see all the re-posted photos and heart-felt notes from his friends and admirers.

It’s interesting to see that surfing aside, he snapped everybody of all ages just being themselves on the beach and in the carpark, and in every one of those portraits the subjects are beaming back at him – that’s how he made people feel.

We’ll miss you here at PLB too Duncan. Rest in Peace
  - John Brasen


Just a few samples:

Jen Bel:
I woke up yesterday to the news that my close friend Duncan is no longer with us physically. It makes me really sad, I talked with him a lot over the past couple of years, he used to send me photos almost daily. He was so happy when he started meeting everyone that he'd been shooting at Malibu, I remember talking about what shooting meant to him and how good it feels to gift someone a great photo of themselves. He was so generous with his time to be there every day he had off and spend countless hours editing photos of all of us. The camera I've used almost every day for 2 years is one that he gave me and he always would check and see what I was shooting with and I know it made him happy to know I was still using his camera. He loved everyone at Malibu and was happy to be part of that family. Every photo of myself shooting surf is from him, he knew how much I dislike my photo taken so he'd sneak and take it and then send me the photos and tell me what he liked about each photo, I have a folder full of them. I hope he knows how much we appreciated him and how much we will miss him.

Alexis Seely:
Dear Duncan… your photographs were always a delight... whether of beautiful sights to behold and/or great moments in time... I was always so thrilled to come home to not only your wonderful photos of my favorite surfers but the kind and thoughtful words that you wrote to go along with the captures of the day...and then there was your great smile and love for the sea. You were a friend to my gal Frankie and our family and we will hold you forever in our hearts along with the priceless memories you gave us. You and your always smiling face will be missed
RIP Duncan McKenzie

Jeff Ransenberg:
Last night when I heard about Duncan McKenzie passing away an indescribable sadness came over me. All those who knew him will understand the feeling. He brought happiness to all that were touched by him in some way. He freely shared his love of photography with all of us. The mark of a great photographer is one that can bring the photograh to life and he had an amazing knack for doing that in everyone of his pictures. I made a point of visiting with him every time I saw him at the beach. His gentle demeanor and happiness that he exuded was magnetic. He gave so many of us amazing memories by freezing special moments in time that will never be lost. He took the attached picture of me on one of the most magical days I have ever had at Malibu in over 50 years of surfing there. Everything was perfect that day and I was fortunate to have it captured by him and preserved forever. I have always been grateful for that and now his gift to me will have so much more meaning. But nothing will ever replace the loss of this truly special man who has been so generous to so many of us. It will be hard to go to the beach and not see him there shooting away. But we will never forget this true gentleman.

A tribute.
A stencil at Leo Carillo.
Portriat by Brian Asher


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