Interviewed by Noah Graff
Today’s Machining World Archives August 2010 Volume 06 Issue 06
In 2004, Greg Davis quit his desk job and sold his belongings to travel the world for 14 months. He used a $400 point-and-shoot Olympus camera to document his journey. After showing his photos to his girlfriend upon returning home, he realized he had a natural talent for photography. Many of Davis’s images have been recognized by the art community nationwide, and he has just signed a contract with National Geographic’s Image Collections.
Are your photos usually taken spontaneously, or do you spend a while setting up your shots?
GD: Ninety-nine percent of my work is a brief moment in a time. There’s the shot, and there it goes. I can’t ask the person to redo a situation that I saw but missed. The moment’s there. I’m either present or I don’t capture that image. I miss a lot of shots, and that’s okay. I wasn’t [supposed] to get that shot.
Are most of your photos portraits?
GD: I do like the portrait. There’s something about the people that I have captured. They captured me first. Whatever was in their spirit, their soul, their eyes, the way that they looked at me, the way they presented themselves to me, the way that they were open to me, allowed me to capture what it is that you see.
I read on your Web site about a woman in Vietnam who had a profound impact on you. Can you tell me about her?
GD: Nine months into my one-year trip my life was literally reborn the moment I crossed paths with the “The Blanket Weaver,” which is what I call the image of her. It’s an image of two hands—one green, one blue, colored by the dye from her work. I captured the image in the mountains of Vietnam on a remote trail outside of a village called Sapa. I took one photograph, smiled and walked on my way. I had no idea that that particular moment was going to define these last five years of my life.
Why was that photo so important?
GD: Because of the impact that it has on people who see it here in the States. I’ve done over 120 exhibitions in the last four years and I’ve seen a wide array of emotions this photograph has on people—I have had people stop dead in their tracks, I’ve seen people cry, I’ve seen people speechless. So in a sense, my fate lies in this woman’s hands. My intention is to eventually go back and find the Blanket Weaver in the mountains of Vietnam and write a book about the whole thing.
Do you enjoy exhibiting and selling your work at art festivals?
GD: The $500 [exhibitor fee] isn’t a lot of money considering the number of people that can see my work, meet me and hear my story. Now, is it grueling? Is it grinding? Is it easy? If it were easy, everybody would do it. Do I get tired? Of course. Did I get tired of sitting at a desk? Of course. But to share the story directly with the person who is moved by the image—what a great thing.
If you could be any machine, fictional or real, what would you be?
GD: The first thing that comes to mind is a camera. In one brief moment, in a blink of an eye, this machine has the ability to capture an emotion that I think is unlike anything else out there. It creates an emotion in the viewer and possibly even a spiritual connection with that brief moment. That’s an extremely powerful tool to convey a message.
You can view and purchase Greg Davis’s pieces online at www.gregdavisphotography.com.