ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Greg Davis’ photographic vision emerged from a time period that could substitute for a country/western song.
He’d lost $100,000 in a bad investment, been badly beaten by a gang, lost six relatives to death and had his heart shattered by a cheating girlfriend.
The Austin, Texas-based photographer quit his job, grabbed a $400 camera and headed around the world.
“I was in a lot of pain,” he said in a telephone interview while traveling through the mountains of southern Wyoming. “I jumped off the cliff. I surrendered.”
That precipice turned him into a National Geographic Image Collection photographer who worked his way from local festivals to international exhibitions.
Davis’ work will be available at the Rio Grande Arts and Crafts Festival during the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta from Oct. 4-6 and Oct. 11-13 in front of the Sandia Resort and Casino. Two hundred artists from 27 states will converge on the big white tent showing paintings, sculpture, pottery, photography, jewelry and more.
This will mark Davis’ first time at the event, where he plans to bring from 12-25 images. During what he calls his “chicken coop days,” he sold his work from a small tent at an Austin art market. In 2013, the Midland, Texas-based Museum of the Southwest commissioned him to shoot a theme based on myth and legend. He chose to follow a religious pilgrimage in India.
Located at the confluence of the three holiest rivers in the country, the 55-day Maha Kumbh Mela draws as many as 120 million Hindu pilgrims to break the cycle of reincarnation by bathing in and drinking the waters, known as the nectar of immortality.
“It’s the largest in the world,” Davis said.
One photograph shows a man sipping the water like a sacrament; another shows a pilgrim kneeling in prayer, his knees soaked in the river.
“This is the man who said, ‘The sky is my roof, the land is my room,’ ” Davis said.
“It’s a beautiful sentiment from someone who has chosen the whole contemplation of God.”
A photograph of the dye-dusted hands of a Vietnamese blanket weaver became his signature piece. The encounter occurred nine months into his journey.
“Our trails converged,” Davis said. “I tapped her on the shoulder. I pointed at her and said, ‘What is on your hands?’ She made a weaving motion and she dunked her hands and she look at me like I was crazy.”
He shot the cigar roller of “Santeria Sass, Cuba” in 2009.
“It’s great, it’s fun, it’s be yourself, it’s confident, it’s Cuba,” he said. “Her name is Esperanza, which means hope.”
Someday Davis hopes to relocate the Vietnamese weaver who provided his trademark image; he’s working on a film about the journey.