It’s been estimated that as many as 880 billion photos will be taken by the close of this year. I’m not quite sure how that statistic could ever be properly calculated, but I think it’s safe to say that with the rise of the digital medium, human beings are taking a shitload more pictures than ever before. With all those photos being taken, chances are you and I have at one point accidentally wandered into someone else’s frame. It’s likely, however, that you’ll never really know you’ve photo-bombed someone’s shot. That’s why I was surprised by a Twitter message that I received out of the blue from a photographer I’ve never met before named Anthony Kurtz, which I share below:
Varanasi, India is an epicenter for pilgrimages for people of many walks of life. Locals from all over the subcontinent make religious journeys to the ancient city; monks of a variety of religious beliefs seek refuge in the many temples along the Ganges River; and not to mention- photographers, travelers and tourists flock to the region to seek inspiration in what I consider one of the most photogenic places on Earth.
Looking at the photo from the tiny Twitter preview, it seemed like it could be me but how could I be certain? I’m not quite sure how Anthony recognized me, as we are only are aware of each other via social media. I asked him to send me the high-resolution version of the photo, and asked if he had any others taken in the batch. He then sent the following:
Above: Anthony spotted me in his photograph of Varanasi’s temples. Click to enlarge
After zooming in to the photo I found that without question it was me. Looking at Anthony’s image EXIF data, I saw the image was taken on October 18th, 2007. I am 24 years old now, so I was 17 in the photo. I also noticed in one of the photographs, it appears I am taking a photo of something. So, I looked through my own images captured that day, and found the exact exposure I had taken within seconds of his.
Above: I appear to be squatting taking a photograph of two women overlooking the Ganges River. Click to enlarge
Above: The actual photograph I was taking at the same time Anthony’s exposure was made. Click to enlarge
And… the big kicker- in the background of my picture there are the boats of people photographing from the river. Which one is Anthony?
When something like this happens, it’s hard not to evoke the tired cliché that the world is an incredibly small place. The world is shrinking even further with our growing level of interconnectedness on the internet and social media—and this occurrence is an example of that. I’m sure people have always been on paths that quietly and unknowingly intersect. Now, with people sharing their passions and experiences more than ever, we can be sure that we’ll meet yet again…or sometime in the future… whether we know it or not.
ADD A COMMENT (47)
Bazo // July 15, 2014 02:33
Wow, incredible story :)
Andrew // July 15, 2014 03:05
Great story! Reminds of this amazing article about of a couple who were unknowingly photographed together at Disney World 15 years before they met.
Jennifer Bates // July 15, 2014 03:07
That is fricken CRAZY! WOW!!! What made Anthony suspect that was you?? Are you guys friends? If that was my mom walking as you were I probably wouldn't even think "Hmm, that looks like my mom, I wonder if it's her." Crazy but super cool!! Thanks for sharing!
romel // July 15, 2014 05:18
awesome moments in time.
manuela // July 15, 2014 11:41
Cool story - and great photos!
Derek Anson // July 15, 2014 12:07
Quite an amazing story
Chris // July 15, 2014 14:13
That is so cool, how random that he happened to be looking at his old photos and stumbled across you!
ted // July 15, 2014 16:07
That is pretty amazing that this happened!
Darrin // July 15, 2014 18:33
Sergiu // July 15, 2014 19:32
that's crazy. not only that you documented your trip to Varanasi, but to get to see yourself from the lens of someone else? that's so awesome!
Jeff // July 15, 2014 19:33
This is so cool. Awesome post.
Sergiu // July 15, 2014 19:33
that's crazy. not only that you documented your trip to Varanasi, but to get to see yourself from the lens of someone else?
that tight hipster pants made me laugh
Bobby Wong // July 15, 2014 19:37
Joey, how true your reminisces. A friend returned to a remote place he photographed six years ago. There he met a lad who he thought was once a young boy in one of his photographs. The amazing thing was that the little boy remembered him too. Life.
Roy Esterhuysen // July 15, 2014 20:01
Very cool :) I think he's in the boat on the top right based on the angles
Sandy Sousa // July 15, 2014 20:30
I love this. Joey, despite your hipster pants, I always find you to speak maturely, truthfully and with great insight. ;) Lovely post.
Vishal // July 16, 2014 01:15
Thanks for sharing joey :)
Dknourek // July 16, 2014 02:07
Awesome story Joey! I'm sure there are a bajillion photos out there with you in them, I still have a couple of you from the hike in the Rockies when you came to Calgary :)
Elena Hernandez // July 16, 2014 02:56
Wow that was the same year i met you...or was it 2008? i do remember you were 17...lol i had to get your parent's permission to have you speak here in Dallas, Texas...i knew you were going to be famous one day...lol
indeed the world is a small place...
Navdeep // July 16, 2014 09:25
It is so interesting to go down the memory lane with a diff perspective :)
James Brocklehurst // July 16, 2014 16:37
Reminds me a bit of the closing moments of 'Shooting the Past' by Stephen Poliakoff - well worth seeing if you haven't done so already.
B. Cox // July 16, 2014 21:41
You look really young
Carmen and Ingi // July 17, 2014 02:45
We love stories like this. And Varanasi looks like it is a magic place for that. 2009 we met an Australian guy who arrived in the same bus. A couple of days later we became friends and shared some photos from our trip through India. Turned out that we visited Taj Mahal at the same time a week before and he was on our photos and we both on his selfies in the background :-)
Here is to more like this!
Keep traveling! All the best.
Carmen und Ingo
Liz // July 17, 2014 05:27
Those figures are so tiny. I can see how you might be able to identify yourself, recognizing the clothes or who you were talking to, but for a stranger to pick you out of all of the thousands of people who visit this site? Very strange.
I Was Hidden on This Guyâ€™s Hard Drive for Over 6 Y... - Thej Live // July 17, 2014 11:42
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Chris Renton // July 17, 2014 14:04
Great story - what a spot! Varanasi is still on my wish list.
Joseba // July 25, 2014 22:14
Awesome. A beautiful story and a coincidence that neither will forget.
Varanasi, a city that never should have lost in my visit to india.
Maybe another time.
Arthur Rosa // July 29, 2014 20:44
God. It's amazing. Awsome story!
Stefan W. Wolf // July 30, 2014 11:51
Thank you for sharing this incredible story!
Stefan W. Wolf Fotografie & Gestaltung | http://www.stefan-w-wolf.de
Adam Cavanagh // July 30, 2014 12:46
Very cool photobomb. Awesome story!
Laura Krueger // July 31, 2014 05:34
I actually have a similar experience! I was on a trip in Europe while I was in high school with a bunch of my friends (this was several years ago). Several years pass, we all go to different colleges and universities, and one of my friends who was on this trip started dating someone at school. She (my friend) happened to be looking through some of her new boyfriend's photos from his Europe trip in high school, and saw me standing in the background of one of his photos! They had been at the same place (somewhere in Paris, I believe), at the same time, several years before. It's uncanny when things like that happen.
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[…] I Was Hidden on This Guy's Hard Drive for Over 6 Years […]
Michelle // August 10, 2014 09:22
There are only a handful of places in the world that I haven't been interested in visiting and India is one of them. Your photos have made me curious and might have changed my mind - for a minute :)
That's so cool that you got to see these photos 7 years later.
Ricardo // August 30, 2014 03:01
I love the way each of you are so differently looking at the same part of the world. ItÂ´s crazy, like a 3D snapshot of a moment in time...
Jonathan Ross // September 04, 2014 20:42
Love this story.
Cat Betz // September 24, 2014 13:11
Abbey // October 30, 2014 16:29
Hah.What's the big deal.
Shakyra Canchaney // November 02, 2014 00:41
That is just insane! Love the story!
Tara // November 15, 2014 20:10
I love when that happens!
Fantastic work, Joeyâ€¦.truly inspiring!
Chip // November 18, 2014 19:20
fotografo de boda en malaga // November 23, 2014 14:56
incredible shoots, i love yours portrait, congratulations
avan // December 05, 2014 22:23
beautiful stuff as always!
Brooke Pennington // July 06, 2015 23:54
Your work has always amazed me, but the added insight you bring to your work is always just as appealing. Crazy story for sure.
Amar B Patel // May 03, 2016 05:03
Fantastic perspective and story :)
Danielle // May 10, 2016 00:41
Wow i love this stuff ! to be at the same remote place unknown to each other, yet a future meeting though a photo is super cool :)
India tour packages // May 21, 2018 00:40
Nice post. This was really helpful post, thanks!
Kesari // May 21, 2018 00:42
John G Evans // July 02, 2018 12:16
Well, all I know Joey is there must be a ton of people who aspire to be like yourself, and not for the revenue, either. I simply cannot say how awesome your work, manner, directing, teaching, etc,. hell, the list can go on and on is. Me I check you out on your site now and then and clearly see I've not met another photographer who can create like you can. Keep up the wonderful work. I want to be like you, but I am camera shy around people. Best,
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