RENEWAL ~ Terraced rice fields in Northern Thailand.
What an awe-inspiring sight. It had been a dream of mine for years to photograph one of the many terraced rice fields one can find in China, Thailand, and Japan among other countries. On my last visit to Thailand, I made my way from Bangkok to Chiang Mai and from there I hired a private guide to drive me into the mountains of Doi Inthanon National Park. I vividly recall the last few miles were quite muddy and I was glad we were in a 4-wheel drive vehicle. With precious little time to shoot in this very remote location, I quickly got to work looking for my composition. The leading lines created by the shallow pools soaking the rice seedlings made my choice easy. I loved how the clouds reflected off the water. May is the beginning of the rainy season and it had rained a good bit earlier in the day. I watched and waited for the clouds and sun to work their magic on the sky. When those majestic golden rays of light finally began to stream through the broken clouds, I was oh so ready for the moment. As I snapped the shutter on my camera and saw the image come up, I knew I had captured some real magic.
ARTIST STATEMENT: As though by a magnet, I’ve always felt the world pulling me, luring me to explore its mysteries and wonder. For a long time, I put my dreams on hold. Then one day in my practice as a radiologist, I met a patient whose journey would forever change my outlook.
In the Fall of 2006, a man came to me with a nagging discomfort in his chest. At 38 years old, he was so young that I thought surely it must be something benign or otherwise inconsequential. In a matter of a few short hours, his CT scan revealed that he was suffering from terminal lung cancer. His story is a reminder to us all that each day must be viewed as a very special gift.
I’ve witnessed hundreds of patients whose lives have been abruptly changed by a life-altering or life-ending diagnosis. At times we may convince ourselves that we are immortal, and that cancer or some other catastrophe only affects others, but we have no guarantees in this life. Time is too short to get lost in a blur of days, weeks, and months.
And so, I began to think more seriously about all those overseas adventures waiting for me, and soon enough, I grabbed my camera and voyaged to all 7 continents. I’ve observed Tibetan monks in prayer, hiked up the Virunga mountains of Rwanda to marvel at the Silverback gorillas in their natural habitat, and watched Bengal tigers cool off in a shallow lake to escape India’s searing heat.
I’ve met people, young and old, who have lived amazing yet ordinary lives. Along the way, I’ve spent several decades honing my craft as a portrait photographer. Whether I’m making candid images of women immersed in prayer in Abu Dhabi or portraits of television actors in my Venice Beach studio, I’ve continuously sought to capture life’s fragility and beauty.
There are no rewinds in life, so find the time to discover your inspiration, explore the extraordinary, create the unimaginable, and then leave nothing on the table.
~ Harv Greenberg, M.D.