The iconic Windows wallpaper, named “Bliss” most of us have seen growing up is actually known to be – ‘World’s most recognized photograph”. It was the default desktop image for Windows XP and on at least one billion computers sold from the year 2001 onwards.
The image was taken by Charles O’Rear a professional photographer, with work featured in National Geographic and the Los Angeles Times. This photo was not taken as part of an assignment, but on a drive to visit his girlfriend near San Fransisco. He was so mesmerized by the hillside, he went back to Sanoma County to get some more shots later.
O’Rear uploaded unedited images of these hillsides to Corbis, a stock photo and image licensing site founded by Bill Gates. And then came the call.
O’Rear agreed to sell Microsoft all the rights to his photograph. He was unable to courier or mail the negatives to Microsoft because they valued the image so high that no shipping company could get the insurance to cover it. He ultimately had to drive down to Seattle and hand them over in person.
He was bound by an NDA to reveal the actual amount given to him for the image. But he did say was the most he’s ever been paid for an image. And it is the second-largest sum received by a living photographer for a single photograph, topped only by an image of Bill Clinton hugging Monica Lewinsky.
To date, 7% of the world’s computers run on Windows XP with this wallpaper as a default setting. And anyone across the world – be it you, we, or even the babu at the government office can instantly recognize this photograph.
Such is the bliss of capturing the right moment.
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