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 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.