Ken Duncan’s images of motherhood

By Natsumi Penberthy 10 April 2013
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Photographer Ken Duncan captures images of mothers and children in poor and remote areas.

WHEN PHOTOGRAPHER KEN DUNCAN visited Mildred’s Social Welfare Centre in Dhaka, Bangladesh in 1989, the health care program set up by World Vision was still in its infancy.

Ken was shooting stills for a book called Vision of Hope, put together by the chairty World Vision. One particular photograph was of two young girls.

“One… had contracted polio… the other was waiting for a life-saving operation to repair a hole in her heart,” says Ken in his follow-up book, almost a quarter of a century later.

Since Ken’s visit, the Mildred’s program has seen to the medical treatment of 20,000 patients. Seeing the fruits of similar projects in India prompted Ken to spearhead a second Vision of Hope book.

In this edition, Ken – along with photographers including Luke Peterson, Meg Hansen and Steve Fraser – aims to celebrate the universal bond between mother and child. Images of mothers and children supported by the chairty in poor and remote areas convey the sense of hope found in childhood and early life, as well as the forces that nurture it.

Families in poor and remote areas

At 21 years old, Luke Peterson is the youngest of the book’s four photographers. His contributions include intimate images in the remote communities of Jigalong and Newman in Western Australia’s Pilbara region.

Luke, who has been Ken’s assistant for three years, is married and, indeed, five months away from having his own child.

“For some reason, one of the mothers was convinced that Sarah and I were going to have a baby pretty young,” says Luke. “She told me I would have to call her if Sarah was pregnant. So, I still have to do that.”

Find Vision of Hope: Mother & Child online here. Ken Duncan was the principal photographer for the Australian Geographic panorama calendar in 2011. Join Ken on an AG photographic tour of China in 2014