The Story behind “The Anapji Shot”


Every time you take a good picture, regardless of your standing in the photographic world, you will have somebody say “This photo should be in National Geographic!” It is a common statement as in the West as we regard National Geographic as the standard of excellence in photography. Never in my wildest dreams did I ever think that I would get an email requesting one of my photos to be used in a National Geographic book.

It happened sometime ago and I kept it quiet for the reason that I pretty much couldn’t believe the situation. Soon after I sent the image and got confirmation there was a long silence. Finally, I check the National Geographic site to see that the book was on pre-order for the beginning of October (it is now for sale here). Again, I kept it on the down-low because I was sure that they would have put this in the back somewhere with a label like “amateur photographer” or not even have printed it at all.

I took the chance and ordered the book directly from National Geographic. It came and I was shaking when I opened it. There spread across 2 pages between Michael Yamashita and Steve Winter (both awesome National Geographic Photographers) was my shot of Anapji Pond. I was weak in the knees. It was true, NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC PRINTED ONE OF MY PHOTOS!

So how did I get this photo? Impulse is the only way to describe it.

It was a Sunday afternoon and I was getting restless. I was bored and wanted to get some shots of Bulguksa. So I raced to the temple on my CB 400 motorcycle only to find that it was closed. The light was fading and I was still itching for something. I thought that I would return to a location that I visited earlier when I practiced my first ever HDR shots. I was lucky because I got there at just the right time.

I had no idea what I was walking into. It was an over cast day and the water in the pond was still despite the huge performance going on. I walked around and snapped off a few shots. I also got some great shots of the tradition performers too. When I got home I was impressed with the results and posted them around.

So how did National Geographic find my shot? Through “My Shot”

Like millions of others, I created a “My Shot” portfolio on the Nat Geo site hoping to get that magical email. I had sort of forgoten about the site for a long time as I was preoccupied with Flickr and my own website. Suffice to say that after getting that email, I have increased my submissions.

My Shot has also revamped their site and it looks really good compared to their old one. I would suggest anyone who is interested in National Geographic to create a page. The assignments that they challenge you with are exciting and they also offer the chance Β to get reviewed and published.

So how did you handle all of the fame and fortune? Um… still waiting

The biggest lesson from this is that although it was a dream come true for me, it doesn’t change much. I still have to push myself to do better. I still have to educate myself of photographic styles and composition. I still have to become a better photographer. This isn’t the magic door to a place where gold flows like water but it is a start. If anything it give me confidence when I start to get worried about how good other photographers shots are and how many likes they get on facebook.

So What’s Next?

I have to be a better photographer. While I this made me extremely happy, I have to push on. I want my photos to be better. I want to look at my shots and know that I have done my best. So that means hitting the books and the street/rooftops/wherever.


  1. Steve Miller Reply

    Congratulations man!

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