SERENGETI SUNRISE ~ Tanzania
On my first African safari, I opted for the Hemmingway variety, sleeping in pitched tents throughout Tanzania. Sometime during the adventure, our guide told us about a couple who had been on a similar safari many years previously and had forgotten to zip up their tent at night. During the early morning hours, a couple of lion cubs wandered in and started quarreling. Soon thereafter, the mother entered the tent to see what the commotion was about and ultimately killed the travelers. With this scenario reverberating in my head, on the 2nd to last evening of the safari, I zipped up my tent and turned in for the night. Sometime after midnight, I heard an animal knock over the wooden chair in front of my tent. He then proceeded to circle the tent, poking at the canvas at various points, presumably looking for an easy way to enter. Over and over again he relentlessly circled my tent. At one point, it seemed like he was attempting to dig a trench beneath my tent and somehow lifted up the canvas floor, barely grazing the underside of my cot. While I’m not the religious sort, I promised God if I survived this ordeal in the Serengeti, I would give up medicine and become a rabbi. After 3 or 4 hours, the sun finally came up, the animal wandered away and while I never became a rabbi, I’ve never felt closer to God than I did that evening. This sunrise captured over the Serengeti campsite was shot the morning after this once in a lifetime encounter. And for those of you who are curious, it was a hyena who spent the evening stalking my tent.
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.