Francis (Frank) Duncan was born in Missouri in 1878. As a child, he and his parents lived in California and Texas. After the death of his parents, Duncan returned to Missouri to live with his grandparents. Duncan trained as a photographer, returned to Texas to work and then decided to "go up into Canada fishing."
Duncan arrived in Salmon Arm in 1913 and opened a photography studio above the Kualt store. He was a widower at the time and sent for his daughter, Kathleen. Neighbours, the Reilly family, took care of the young girl at Tappen, while Duncan tried to make a living. To supplement his studio work, Duncan sold subscriptions to the Observer and bartered exchanges for his catches of fish. The Salmon Arm Observer notes that Duncan was an experienced photographer when he arrived in the area. He specialized in railroad and newspaper photography, and had worked throughout Canada, the United States and Mexico. The Salmon Arm Observer commissioned Duncan to take photographs of all parts of the Shuswap. Interestingly, on June 18, 1914 the editors note that Mr. Duncan had a hydroplane that he used on Shuswap Lake.
Duncan later worked in Klamath Falls, Oregon before moving to Texas. He made homes in Presidio, Terlingua and, finally, Marfa in 1916. According to The Big Bend Sentinel, Duncan considered himself primarily a prospector, with photographic skills. He approached ranchers in Texas, asking to prospect, but was usually denied access to their land. Then, as a back up, Duncan offered to take portraits of the ranchers' families and landscapes of their ranches.
The Marfa Presidio County Museum houses 2,200 of Duncan's glass and film negatives from the region. Duncan loved hunting, fishing and the outdoors. Frank Duncan died in July 1970 at Big Bend, Texas at the age of 91.