Man who took ‘Most Viewed Photo Ever’ Says He ‘Just Happened to be there at the Right Moment’


    The acclaimed photographer behind the world’s ‘most viewed photo ever’ recently shared the story of how he captured this iconic image.

    You might expect that achieving such a milestone would involve extensive preparation and practice, but for Chuck O’Rear, it all came down to being in the right place at the right time.

    At the age of 81, O’Rear revealed his insights into the creation of the world-famous photo and the overwhelming response it received since its release. In a candid interview with People magazine, O’Rear mentioned that he always carries a camera with him because he believes in capturing unexpected moments that could turn into something remarkable. “I used to stop frequently to take photos. The scenery was simply breathtaking,” he recalled.

    The photograph that earned O’Rear global recognition was taken in January 1996 during a trip to visit his now-wife, Daphne Larkin, in Marin County. As he was driving from his home in St Helena, California, he encountered a mesmerizing landscape that would later be known as ‘Bliss.’

    If you’ve ever used a Microsoft computer, you’re likely familiar with this captivating image—lush, green hills blending harmoniously with a serene blue sky adorned with fluffy white clouds. It was a picture-perfect moment that made opening up your computer a joyous experience.

    Many people wondered if such a captivating scene had been photoshopped or digitally enhanced, but O’Rear assured that the image was authentic, captured on film using a Mamiya RZ67 camera with color Fuji Film and a sturdy tripod. The combination of the camera and film produced brilliant colors, enhancing the beauty of the photograph significantly. In a video produced by Microsoft, O’Rear credited the size of the camera and film for setting the ‘Bliss’ photograph apart from the rest.

    Surprisingly, the image that would later define O’Rear’s career started as just another picture for him. His wife humorously recalls that during his 25 years with National Geographic, no one ever paid much attention to it. However, after ‘Bliss’ ended up in the hands of Bill Gates through Microsoft’s acquisition of the Westlight stock photo agency, everything changed.

    Microsoft acquired ‘Bliss’ for a substantial six-figure sum, though the exact amount remains undisclosed. The transaction encountered a hiccup as O’Rear had to personally deliver the original photograph to Microsoft’s Seattle office due to insurance issues. Despite the logistical challenges, the payment and adventure were well worth it for O’Rear.

    Since then, ‘Bliss’ has followed the photographer wherever he goes. From India and Thailand to Greece and beyond, O’Rear has encountered his image in various unexpected places, from hotel lobbies to airport billboards and even on computers in secondary schools. He firmly believes that this photograph will remain etched in the memories of people worldwide, becoming an enduring symbol of natural beauty.

    In conclusion, Chuck O’Rear’s ‘Bliss’ photograph is an extraordinary example of capturing the perfect moment by simply being at the right place at the right time. The world will forever remember this captivating image, and O’Rear’s legacy as the ‘Photographer of Bliss’ is cemented in history.


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