Photography is the gathering of light. Collected and focused through a lens, the light of our three-dimensional world is captured on a two-dimensional surface where it becomes something else: a memory, a call to action, a snapshot of history, a political gesture, an ironic comment. On rare occasions this gathering of light becomes something else again, a vision of time and place. This is what Michael Kenna does. He offers a vision – his vision – of time and place. Often photographing in near darkness, Michael does not simply illustrate or record the world as he finds it. His imagination produces images that combine a sense of grace and dark emotion. These images are not closed off, protected by velvet ropes from the viewer’s own experiences of the world. Instead, they are invitations to reflect or remember.
Traveling and photographing are two of my passions, and during the last three years HSBC has, from time to time, kindly sent me off to photograph in various countries around the world. It would be misleading to say that all has been wine and roses. There have been a few uncomfortable situations enroute. For example, I have been chased by flying cockroaches, eaten by swarms of hungry mosquitoes, sucked on by bloodthirsty leeches, cleansed by intestinal bugs, and frozen, baked, drenched and sleep deprived into submission, often while precariously hanging off extremely high buildings. Such incidents only serve to contrast with the many incredible adventures I have experienced. I think of the parting clouds on the peak of the Huangshan Mountains, the first rays of sunlight on Monument Valley, boat trips along the Li River and through Ha Long Bay, balmy nights in Jaipur, and the stunning skylines of Dubai, Hong Kong, New York and Shanghai. The photographs collected in this book have been made in eighteen countries on numerous trips. I feel extremely fortunate and appreciative to have had these opportunities.