Behind the Photo: Hani Terraces
The Hani Terraces is one of Thierry Bornier’s most iconic landscape photos of China. It was also the image that jumpstarted his career as a professional photographer.
In the mid-2000’s, Thierry was relocated to Shanghai from New York for his work in fashion. After some time in his new city, he decided to take a year off to discover the country he has now grown to love. It was during these travels that he took this photograph – in February 2010.
Thierry has been particularly taken to the Yunnan Province of China. This province is home to the Honghe Hani Rice Terraces, an intricate system of channels and terraces were originally created by the Hani people over 1,200 years ago and have since been adopted by a number of ethic groups inhabiting the area. They are an engineering masterpiece and have become an icon of the region.
“The fusion of man and nature creates awe-inspiring beauty…I love the patterns and the diversity of each site.” Thierry Bornier
The photograph perfectly encompasses the majesty of southern China. Thierry understands that in order to get a great photo, it’s all about having the right angle. For him, the right angle meant scaling the local hills to get the perfect areal view. At the time the photo was taken, it wasn’t as simple as following a road since the region had yet to be named a UNESCO World Heritage site and natural reserve. It meant that instead of following an easily navigable path, Thierry had make his way through the intricate system of canals and vegetation to find just the right angle. It was all worth it when he was able to get the perfect shot.
When it was taken he had no idea it would become the icon it is today. He used his amateur photography skills to frame to desired area with the patterns and colors that he found most appealing. Once he had the frame balanced it was just a matter of a CLICK to capture the life lines of the region.
This image was the tipping point that enabled Thierry to become a professional photographer. After being featured as a National Geographic Photo of the Day he made the decision to leave his high profile CFO position to focus on his creative side and follow his passion to become a professional photographer.
His incredible photo has since gone on to win multiple awards including the Lens Culture Earth Awards and has earned international attention for his skills as a landscape photographer.