Odyssey to National Geographic Photo Contest- Best of World : Final 15 Contributor

I’m one of the Top 15 Final Contributors of a National Geographic Photo Contest!!!

Hoooraaay!  I never thought that an amateur photographer like me will be chosen  for not just an international competition but it’s NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC! wahhh!

This is worth posting, so let me share my journey on this:

Last Sept 10, I was on twitter and saw a post about this contest. I can’t remember if it’s from someone who also joined the contest or from the official Nat Geo account. Nevertheless, I was interested so I clicked the link.

I’m completely unaware that Nat Geo holds an online contest like this. It is where photographers around the world (Amateurs and Pros) can simply create a profile, upload a photo and contribute in different Themed Assignments. In every assignments, the curators are National Geographic Editors, Photographers and Officials. After a period they will choose their top photos for the Final Story- meaning the WINNERS.

The assignment that I entered was Best of World and ran from Sept 1- 22 2015. This is one Special Assignment too because aside from the theme, the contest is about selecting the next Cover Photo for the Nat Geo Traveler Magazine that will be feature on their December/ January issue. Actually, I didn’t gave too much attention to the “Next Cover Photo” idea because all I want to do is upload a photo just like the others and maybe some Pros would appreciate my shots and give me some tips to improve my skills. It was my first time to join too.

The requirements are:  A photo of Best Place; It should demonstrate a strong sense of place, Should be in a vertical positions since it will be considered as a cover with the Nat Geo Traveler logo on top; Must be taken within 5 years and of course it should make the readers wish they are in the picture.

I entered my one and only uploaded shot from my recent trip to Japan last February. Actually I’ve posted it here in my previous blog but due to this contest, I decided to remove it for rights concerns. You can check my shot on my Profile. I chose this because this is my only vertical image that time, all others are shot horizontally. Also, I felt that there’s something amazing the way I shot it that it suits well to be entered in the assignment.

After minutes of posting, I was notified by the number of favorites for my shot. This time, I was satisfied because for me Its feels good if strangers appreciate your work not just your family and friends. Also, my shot wasn’t edited well (because I’m not good at it) like the others so for me it’s an achievement already.

Days passed and I see few more notifications of likes but that’s just it. I’m not expecting more since the submitted photos reached 34,000.  But then I got an email last Sept 25, when a Nat Geo Editor – Leigh Borghesani liked my shot. Wah!

nat_geo like

From the 3 Curators of the assignment, one of them liked my shot!  Wohoo! I’m in the office, silently giggling about the email. Although I’m to excited to share it right away, I decided not to because I’m quite shy and I don’t want my workmates to be intrigued and ask me about it.

Then on Oct 4, around 9 PM PHT, I remembered how the previous email made me happy so I shared the screenshot to all my social media accounts. I was a little proud of myself and good thing my friends were happy too.

I was about to sleep but for some reason I wanted to read the email again, then I saw a follow up unread email from Nat Geo:

first notif


“the following image is being considered for publication in the final story…”  OMG! Is this for Real?!!!  I was hyped specially when I saw that the deadline of submission for the material the requested was Oct 4. IT WAS OCT 4 THAT DAY!  Good thing, I’m on the eastern side of the world so there’s still enough time to submit their request.  Whew! I don’t have a RAW file but still I gave my unedited shot and my most passionate additional caption they needed. Though I’m not expecting anything more after this notification because for me it’s already enough to be CONSIDERED out of the 34K entries to choose from. Of course with these news I couldn’t stop myself sharing it again to my friends. Sorry for the spam, I was just too happy. 🙂


Then the next day, I received another email:



One of your images has been included in the FINAL STORY For the National Geographic Your shot ” Best of World” Assignment … O_O Goosebumps!!!  As what I replied to Brad, This was the BEST EMAIL I’VE EVER RECEIVED SO FAR!


FINALIST? Really?Me? an amateur?!!! If only I could jump out of my seat and scream while in the office, I would do it. But I don’t want my workmates to freak out, so I calm myself down with all but a grin on my face. I submitted the additional requirements/forms they need right away in order to proceed with the competition. Signing forms made me realize that It was really a serious competition.

Brad, was so nice that after I sent my requirements and gratitude for recognizing my shot he replied that I should feel honored of being selected and  He also to congratulated me for getting that far in the contest. I’m really am! When I got home, I post this wonderful news to all my social media accounts because I’m really thankful and I’m a little proud of myself for getting this far. Again, I’m not expecting. I’m already contented. I’m a finalist already. Yiiii 🙂

The last email from Brad was a cliffhanger, because I was on a waiting mode for succeeding update. During the week, they are already curating all the images to be chosen in the final cut. then on Oct 9th, this notification came in:



I didn’t share this anymore because this would be a spam and it might make me anticipate more if I really get in. I checked the site and it was said that the publishing of photos will be announced on Oct 10th.


Then on OCT 10th: 

Final 15 Contributors

WAHHH! *Tears of Joy*


See my avatar as one of the TOP 15 Featured Contributors?!!! 

top 15




When your only uploaded photo got the  blue seal of being published   *Selected for Best of World Story*  🙂


During the announcement my shot top trended out of 52 millions shots! 🙂

trending out of 5million photos



From 34, 386 photo submission –> 505 Editors Favorites –> Final Top 15 Contributor. What a great achievement!!!


I’m really overwhelmed at this point and I’m so thankful to to Nat Geo Community for this opportunity and most specially the Curators for choosing my photo. Really an UNEXPECTED ACHIEVEMENT.  Now I prove to myself that sometimes you just need to try and give yourself a chance to do what you really want in life. Ever since I really wanted to be a landscape and Nature Photographer professionally but didn’t have the guts to pursue it. Through this recognition from a notable organization in Photography and Exploration was given to me, Now, I’m more inspired to take that challenge and maybe someday I could be part of this organization too.

From Oct 10 until Mid November, they were releasing teasers for the announcement of the chosen cover photo, so here are some of those screenshots I took:


Twitter Annoucement



Instagram Announcement



Website Teaser


Last Nov 19, the chosen photo for the Cover of the Magazine has been announced and it wasn’t me.  Sad? A little. But seeing the other 14 final contributors, I know I don’t have chance in winning. I even bet on their photos not mine. Haha!  To be chosen with these professionals is a great privilege already.

So here’s the closer look of my mock cover:


Photograph by Jenilyn Fabian! YEAH!


This is a very unforgettable experience. Definitely One for the books!  I Hope this wouldn’t be my last. Who knows? If I pursue this career, I may put one of my shots in a real magazine.


Thank you Nat Geo and Thank you God for the unexpected Blessing  🙂


***Credits to National Geographic Social Media Accounts for the screeshots.

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