To a lot of travellers, working with National Geographic is the dream. Many of us read the esteemed magazine as kids, and paid extortionate amounts of money to watch the cable channel as adults. It is one of the pinnacles of success in the world of travel journalism and photography, and a standard to which we judge our own work.
Recently, a friend of mine landed the jackpot, and had the opportunity to work with “Nat Geo” as part of a new travel reality show. The show, Get Lost in Korea, is a one-off episode dedicated to exposing the fascinating dynamics of this country to the east. Greg Goodman, the lucky photographer and blogger in question, describes Get Lost in Korea as “telling a story of travel, photography, and friendship”.
“It has a mix of humour, adventure, tradition, and stunning imagery,” Greg says. “The show chronicles our [his and Canadian entertainer, Jesse Day’s] journey as I explore, photograph, discover, and blog about the hidden side of South Korea.”
Greg is a self-taught photographer, who, after years of hard work, was lucky enough to be contacted by Samsung in 2012, and requested to present his portfolio at Photokina – the world’s largest photo trade fair – in Germany. While there, he became friends with an employee of Nat Geo’s Korean channel. “She told me about a project she might be working on next year, and asked if I was interested,” Greg explains. With only that information, he immediately replied, “Of course! Whatever it is, I’m in.
“Nine months later, I arrived in Seoul to film Get Lost in Korea,” he says.
The filming process was intensive, and culminated with about 50 hours of footage – 20 hours of those with Greg and Jesse in the frame. “Even those Jesse and I were only ‘on’ for a few hours per day, those were really long days!” Greg explains. “All of Get Lost in Korea was improvised. Though, at times we received basic instructions on where to go and what to talk about.”
Unlike other travel reality shows, Get Lost in Korea has no challenges or competitive angle. Instead, Greg and Jesse spent one month wandering the countryside, interacting with locals, and saying “yes” to everything they encountered.
He claims this project with Nat Geo presented opportunities that ordinary solo travel never could. “Part of that is because I would never have known about the small fishing village holding an exorcism on a boat,” he says. “It would not have occurred to me to walk out into mud flats, talk to the men standing there, and learn how to catch – and eat! – a live octopus.
“With National Geographic leading the way, I had the opportunity to participate in these events and become a central part,” Greg says.
Naturally, local experiences played a huge role in the success of this show. “What I loved most [about this project] were all of the amazing local experiences,” Greg explains. “Every step of the way, we were greeted with smiles, compassion, and friendship. South Korean people were among the kindest, friendliest, and most helpful locals I’ve ever met.”
Of course, Get Lost in Korea is not just about the people, but the dynamics and intricacies of the country itself. Greg mentions the contrast between traditional and modern worlds – from the architecture, to the way locals interweave with everyday life. “Even in the most remote corners of the country, there’s a satellite on every bamboo rooftop, and a phone in every monk’s hand!” he says.
With filming all wrapped up, and the show having premiered on the 23rd November, 2013, Greg resumed his usual travel routine. Currently, he is travelling throughout South America, taking incredible photos of locals and getting left behind by boats. While he has no more upcoming projects with Nat Geo (yet!), he claims, “I live my life on the belief that if you follow your heart and do what you’re passionate about, opportunities will present themselves.
“So, stay tuned!”