Nat Geo photo prize winner inspires #pianolove

Nat Geo photo prize winner inspires #pianolove

Thanks to a really nice article on Demilked today, we learned that a National Geographic Travel Photography prize winning image features a soulful musician pouring out his heart to the landscape and his transported young listener.

Moved by the image, and sensing some #pianolove was taking place, we investigated the story… which turns out to involve personal connection through the medium of music, and a piano on wheels! It’s a story of genuinely heartfelt connection as we shall now explain…

Croatian photographer Nikola Smernic, captured this image in Queenstown, New Zealand:


It seems that the occasion of winning the Nat Geo prize, mixed with a good dollop of socially-enabled-mingle-space-magic, has sparked a new connection between the photographer and the subjects of his prize winning image… a Belgian piano man called Mathias and a girl called Jemma.


Nikola’s partner Martina recalls the moment when the shot was taken in her personal account of the events on their blog posting: This is why we travel

We left the scene not knowing who the man and the girl were, and just remembering that beautiful and absolutely brilliant music… Yes, that was *the moment*, the one that passed and the one we continued to think about long after it passed … when suddenly Nikola found the photo that captured him immediately. I remember looking at it with him and going back straight to that moment in my mind when I told him that the only thing missing in this photo was the sound we heard then. It was the only thing missing! Everything else was in that picture. Nikola comforted me by saying that maybe one day we’ll get the chance to go back there and, who knows, maybe that pianist will still be there …”

… As it turned out later, Nikola’s awarded picture was big news in New Zealand. And we heard this from a man who contacted us a few days later. It was our pianist. :) …”


… If there was a way to describe simply yet effectively what we felt when we received his message, I’d burst with happiness. He was so very happy with the picture and the award, and with his note, we received – the sound”.

So, musical data formats and framed prints were exchanged and the pair met and became firm friends. Mathias even played at Nikola and Martina’s wedding! Ahhh.


And it wasn’t long until the mother of the girl listener also featured in the image popped up too, so the three would now like to be reunited in Queenstown.


We dropped Nikola a line to tell him we loved the story and would like to do this article about his photograph. He’s clearly a man who feels blessed, what with the prize, the internet response and all these positive things that keep happening because of this brief inspired moment:

Everything that happened right after that became the most amazing series of events, better than the award itself. I can’t believe all these events really happened”.

Sounds like a clear case of #pianolove to us.

We found this very uplifting and we want to find more stories like it, so tell us:

  • Do you perform outdoors for the sheer love of self expression in nature or delighting travellers and impromptu audiences?
  • What unusual creative or personal connections have you made though a meeting with an artist from a different discipline?
  • What’s the most impressive landscape you’ve performed in?
  • What’s the best image captured of you doing your thing?

Share your stories in the comments below. Video responses are particularly welcomed!