“Nikon Camera Club” by David Douglas Duncan, Tokyo, Japan 1980
Photo credit: © WestLicht Photographica Auction

“Nikon Camera Club” by David Douglas Duncan, Tokyo, Japan 1980

Nikon and Leica, two of the most absurd camera brands after World War II. Their history is so intertwined with spy games and conspiracy that is to the point of ridiculousness. The asian companies are famous for copying european camera designs and its an old story, partially directed by the good old yankees. 

This photo was taken by David Douglas Duncan in Tokyo in 1980 and shows more than 3000 guests of the “Nikon Club” Picnic, their cameras, mostly Nikons, Canons, Olympuses, Pentaxes, all pointed at one single subject – David Douglas Duncan himself. The bizarre aspect of this “reversal role” is intensified further by the fact that Duncan photographed this cohort of Nikon photographers with his Leica M3-D. It is a pretty anecdote, which also ensured that the image was chosen for the cover of a coffee table book.

David Douglas Duncan was born in Kansas, USA in 1916. During his student days in Miami he began exploring photography more and more seriously. His evocative pictures from the Korean War brought him international renown. After his time with the US Navy Duncan worked for the Life magazine for twenty years, until an encounter with Pablo Picasso gave his life a new direction. Their blossoming friendship resulted in seven books over the course of the years, always with the artist and his dog Lump as their protagonists.

Signed, initialized and annotated extensively by the photographer in ink on the reverse, date stamp on the reverse, annotations reading “One Sunday Morning in a Japanese Rose Garden photo by DDD, David Douglas Duncan Tokyo: “Nikon Camera Club” Picnic 3,500 camera people photographing DDD, who was introduced as the first person to begin using Nikon lenses on his camera in 1950, during the Korean War when DDD was a Life photographer.” Photographed with Leica M3-D.