At the end of 2018, Andrey Revyakin from Ekaterinburg, Russia won the National Geographic Photo Award for his pieces “Russian Wild Nature” and “Urban Jungle.” We asked Andrey to tell us about how he achieved this victory. Frankly, his story surprised us a little bit. Andrey told us not only about his victory, but also about trials in his life. Here is what he shared. I’ve been taking pictures as an amateur for a long time. It was an opportunity to spice up my life, to make it bright and interesting. In October I had a panic attack at work and fell down. My chest was constricted, my arm went numb, and it became hard to breath. I became dizzy. It is difficult to explain all my feelings. I don’t want to experience it again. I saw a doctor and he said that my nervous system gave way. It was my first panic attack. It was triggered by worries about my family, job and spiritual life. This situation helped me to value people near me. I began to enjoy each moment in my life and tried to turn my thoughts to something positive. I began to pray consistently, to ease the dizziness and all my worries. I realized that it was better for me not to focus on getting rid of the disease, but to learn how to live with it. While I am sick, I am afraid to leave God. While I am sick, I am afraid to hurt my family and I seek to purify my heart.

At the beginning of my diagnosis, I saw the photography contest by National Geographic. I decided to send my photos. Frankly, I didn’t believe in my success. My photos didn’t have many viewers and responses. As my disease progressed, it lead me to different thoughts and worries. One day I had a panic attack. I was on my way home and was upset because of my powerlessness. I prayed to God and cried out that I couldn’t be a leader in my family, my children didn’t obey me and I was a bad father. I felt useless in the church and felt nobody cared about my photos. At that moment I received a letter from National Geographic stating I had won two nominations. It was an answer from God, that he believes in me! I thought that nobody liked my photos. But I received a lot of compliments for my works. I used to think that I am a bad husband, father, but God has another view. I need to learn to think about myself from a godly perspective. It is a miracle for me. Now I have a desire to praise God through all opportunities he gives me in my life. I want to say thank you to God because he believes in me and he loves me like nobody else in the world.