Man who took 'most viewed photo ever' says he ‘just happened to be there at the right moment’
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The photographer behind the world's 'most viewed photo ever' has opened up about the circumstances surrounding when he took it.
If you took what is widely regarded as being the world's 'most viewed photo ever' you think you'd probably have spent a lot of time preparing and practising for the shot, but for photographer Chuck O'Rear, he says he was simply in the right place at the right time.
The 81-year-old has opened up about how he took the world's 'most viewed photo' and the response it's had since it was released.
In an interview with People, O'Rear explained he 'always' carries a camera around with him because 'you just never know'.
He adds: "I used to pull over often to take photos. I think the scenery there was so beautiful."
O'Rear took what is considered to be the world's 'most viewed photo' in January 1996 when on his way to visit his now-wife of 20 years, Daphne Larkin, driving from his house in St Helena, California to hers in Marin County.
The image? It's called 'Bliss'.
Luscious, green gentle hills flowing into one another accompanied by a rolling blue sky spotted with perfect, fluffy, white clouds - the picturesque image made opening up the computer to do touch typing lessons worth it.
But surely the image of a Wizard of Oz-like beautiful world must have been photoshopped? Such heaven can't really exist?
Well, it wasn't. "When it's on film, what you see is what you get," O'Rear explains - the photographer taking 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," O'Rear says in a video for Microsoft, shot by cameraman Bar Leferink and directed by Marcel Buunk under company Shoot the Rabbit.
While the image was 'just another picture for Chuck', it's become the photographer's most famous.
"Twenty-five years at Geographic and nobody ever gives a damn about that," wife Larkin jokes.
O'Rear explains: "I get emails maybe every week or two, something related to the 'Bliss' photograph.
"When I die, although I won't be buried, Daphne has said, on your tombstone, we're not going to say National Geographic, we're going to say 'Photographer of Bliss'."
O'Rears' image ended up in the lap of Microsoft's Bill Gates, after Gates' Corbis group bought Westlight stock photo agency in 1998 - Westlight the agency the photographer originally submitted 'Bliss' to.
'Bliss' was bought by Microsoft for a 'low six-figure' sum of over $100,000 - the exact amount unknown - and it became the Windows XP desktop image we all know, love and have nonchalantly stared at wishing we could transport to where the image was taken.
However, the transaction didn't go as smoothly as planned. O'Rear paid such a high sum for the image that Fed Ex '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 photograph to Microsoft's Seattle office himself, as per St Helena Star.
Although, it was worth it for a six-figure sum and free plane ride, O'Rear certainly ended up getting paid more than another photographer who's image ended up being used by Microsoft, Peter Burin, receiving a measly $45 cut in comparison for the 'Autumn' wallpaper, as per PetaPixel.
'Bliss' is ultimately the image that has followed the photographer to this day - no matter where he's travelled around the world he can't escape it.
"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," O'Rear reflects. "We were walking through the Chicago airport years ago and there it was."
He resolves: "I have a theory that anybody now from aged 15 on for the rest of their life will remember this photograph.
"So now I'm in secondary school, I'm 15 years old, I was on my computer in school and I go onto college and I go on into the work world and now I'm 50 years old, 70 years old and I see that image somewhere. I won't remember where I saw it, but I will remember it."