Man Who Took ‘Most Viewed Photo Ever’ Says He ‘Just Happened To Be There At The Right Moment’

Chuck O'Rear, the man who took the 'most viewed photo' in the world, has explained that he 'just happened to be there at the right moment'.
Credit: Shoot the Rabbit via YouTube

Chuck O’Rear, the man who took the ‘most viewed photo’ in the world, has explained that he ‘just happened to be there at the right moment’.

There’s one photograph out there that pretty much everybody has seen.

But it’s not a piece of art or an advertisement.

Nonetheless, you’ll be almost guaranteed to have seen it at one point in your life.

And now, the man behind the image has revealed the remarkable story behind how this photo was taken…

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The picture in question is called ‘Bliss’.

And if you were brought up around Windows computers, you’ll definitely have spied it as a desktop background.

It’s a common background on Microsoft computer screens and features stunning rolling green hills, and a blue sky complete with fluffy white clouds.

The picture is so perfect that you may have assumed it was created in some sort of digital way, but it was actually just a classic case of right place, right time.

And now, photographer, 82-year-old Chuck O’Rear, has opened up about the lucky circumstances that allowed him to capture the iconic image.

Chuck O'Rear
Chuck O’Rear is the man behind the ‘most viewed photo’ in the world. Credit: Shoot the Rabbit via YouTube

“I always carry a camera with me, because you just never know,” he tells People. “I used to pull over often to take photos. I think the scenery there was so beautiful.”

O’Rear snapped the image in January 1996, while driving from  St Helena, California to Marin County when on his way to visit his now-wife of 20 years, Daphne Larkin.

And as for whether the vibrant picture was Photoshopped?

Well, O’Rear has confirmed that the answer is a firm no.

“When it’s on film, what you see is what you get,” O’Rear explains in a video for Microsoft, shot by cameraman Bar Leferink and directed by Marcel Buunk under the company Shoot the Rabbit.

“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.”

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However, in spite of its enormous fame, O’Rear sees ‘Bliss’ as ‘just another picture’.

“I get emails maybe every week or two, something related to the ‘Bliss’ photograph,” O’Rear says. “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’.”

His wife Larkin jokes about her husband’s viral fame: “Twenty-five years at Geographic and nobody ever gives a damn about that.”

While Larkin adds: “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, aeroplanes, at airports.

“We were walking through the Chicago airport years ago and there it was.”

Chuck O’Rear has confirmed that ‘Bliss’ has not been Photoshopped. Credit: Microsoft Windows XP

He concludes: “I have a theory that anybody now from aged 15 on for the rest of their life will remember this photograph.”

And it appears that O’Rear’s photography skills have paid off.

Microsoft reportedly bought the image for over $100,000, as per Peta Pixel.

But this high pay rate didn’t become the norm, as Peter Burin received a measly $45 cut in comparison for the ‘Autumn’ wallpaper.

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Written by Annie Walton Doyle

Annie Walton Doyle is a content editor at IGV who specialises in trending, lifestyle and entertainment news. She graduated from Goldsmiths, University of London, with a degree in English Literature. Annie has previously worked with organisations such as The Huffington Post, The Guardian, The Telegraph, Harvard University, the Pulitzer Prize and 22 Words.