Jan van der Greef was born in the Netherlands in 1952 and grew up peacefully, until a life-changing event happened. A polio virus hit him when he was four years old, leaving him fully paralysed. Blessed with a strong mind, he learned to walk again, step by step.

His nature oriented voyage of discovery started in his childhood. His imagination and dreams were vividly guided by nature books such as The Wonderful Adventures of Nils Holgersson by Selma Lagerlöf and Walt Disney’s Worlds of Nature: A Treasury Of True-Life Adventures.

“From those early days I remember a repetitive dream in which I was an eagle, soaring high in the sky, feeling as light as a feather and looking at the world below … experiencing a sense of overview, peace, safety, deep understanding, absence of time, connectivity and the ultimate freedom …. a feeling of Oneness.”


Jan and his father captured by his mother.


This dream and the wonder of nature guided him to remote places all over the world, despite being dependent on his wheelchair. This created a dualistic feeling: searching for freedom and oneness while being constrained. However, feelings of resistance invited him to explore his inner self. The images were reflections of his inner self and they guided him on the path of life both in science and photography. New perspectives were born on the inner and outer world.