Man who took ‘most viewed photo ever’ was paid so much the image had to be hand-delivered
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The man behind the 'most viewed photo in the world' has opened up about the staggering lengths he had to go to deliver it after it landed in the lap of a very famous buyer.
There's no doubt you've seen the infamous image 81-year-old Chuck O'Rear snapped back in 1996 during a routine journey through California.
It was a simple case of right place right time, with the photographer having no clue what was in store for the photo that was 'just another picture' for him.
In an interview with People, O'Rear explained: "I always carry a camera with me, because you just never know.
"I used to pull over often to take photos. I think the scenery there was so beautiful."
The picture in question - titled Bliss - was shot during a pitstop on his way to meet his future wife Daphne Larkin in Marin County, California, which makes the whole story even more wholesome, if you ask me.
You might not have thought about it since, but the image will likely ring a bell for any Windows computer users out there.
That's right, O'Rear's casual snapshot was later snagged by Microsoft after Bill Gates' Corbis group bought Westlight stock photo agency in 1998, with the pic going on to become the iconic default desktop image on Windows XP - an image we were all greeted with after school waiting for MSN to load.
Can't lie, I was convinced the image was either computer generated or at least photoshopped, but shockingly that's not the case.
"When it's on film, what you see is what you get," O'Rear said, explaining he took the image using a Mamiya RZ67 camera with colour Fuji Film and a tripod.
"There was nothing unusual. I used a film that had more brilliant colours, the Fuji Film at that time, and the lenses of the RZ67 were just remarkable.
"The size of the camera and film together made the difference and I think helped the Bliss photograph stand out even more. I think if I had shot it with 35 millimetre, it would not have nearly the same effect."
Of course, with a buyer as large as Microsoft, you would expect a handsome sum in return - and that's certainly what O'Rear bagged.
The exact figure is unknown, but what we do know is that Bliss was bought by the tech giant for a 'low six-figure' sum of over $100,000.
However, the transaction wasn't exactly straightforward.
O'Rear was paid such a high sum for the image that FedEx 'wouldn't touch it' because of how hefty the insurance would be. This meant O'Rear had to hop on a plane and hand deliver the original snap to Microsoft's Seattle office in person.
While it was worth it for the paycheque and free plane ride, O'Rear actually ended up getting paid more than another photographer whose image also ended up being used by Microsoft.
Peter Burin received a $45 cut in comparison for the 'Autumn' wallpaper. You've got to admit, you'd be pretty gutted, wouldn't you?
Anyway, while O'Rear spent over two decades as a photographer at National Geographic, there's no doubt Bliss is the most famous image he's captured - and it still follows him to this day.
"I get emails maybe every week or two, something related to the 'Bliss' photograph," he said.
"The image is everywhere as we all know. [...] The picture, no matter where we've been in the world - India, Thailand, Greece - that picture is always there, either on some old computer in an upscale hotel that hasn't been updated in 30 years in the lobby the people are checking you in on, or, we saw that picture in billboards, airplanes, at airports.
"I have a theory that anybody now from aged 15 on for the rest of their life will remember this photograph."