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Monday, 11 March 2013


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"Next, think of all the ways he could continue to leverage the photo's popularity if he wanted to."

Well, more like if he's *able* to - the viral world is fickle as hell and the wave can vanish as quickly as it rose. Making riding this wave even more difficult is the fact that virtually all the viewers just want to see the hit, and having done so... they move on.

MIke - interesting thoughts.

I'm curious to know how you feel about your own ability to create a hit, or at least to influence the possibility. Or maybe whether you don't think you have that ability. Like you say, you get lots of entreaties to publicise, and you get to decide whether you do or not. I think it's fair to say that if you feature an image, it will get exposure, at the very least, which is often the starting point that a photo needs to be a hit, irrespective of its intrinsic qualities.

Many questions spring to mind.

Since it's one of those images that impress by the presumed "luck" of all the elements falling into place, where the photographer was presumably standing "at the right place, at the right time", wouldn't most photographers have "seen" the "same" shot, had they been standing next to him? There are so many people with cameras in their hands nowadays, there is bound to be hits like this happening, just as a matter of statistics.

I do not wish to diminish the credit due to the photographer. Perhaps he waited for the shot for an hour à la HCB. Perhaps he had been standing there countless times before, preempted the potential of this point of view and planned to go back after a snowfall, etc.

What I am wondering is, if it was indeed luck, what are the odds that the photographer will be able to produce such good work in the future, with a certain consistency? (Are "hits", by definition, mostly a matter of luck?)

Also... Sure, nobody has to care how easy or hard an image was to make, the image stands on its own. But what would happen if it was discovered that the image was manipulated (either by being somewhat setup and/or being "cleaned up" in Photoshop)? Would people still love the image just as much? Would the photographer lose a degree of fame/respect?

This photo will make him famous not only for the perfect moment he nailed the shot but for one of the most stolen pics ever. Did you try a google image search? Do it!

Make sure your name is associated with it as often as possible. It doesn't count if the picture becomes famous but no one knows who took it.

Funny, I knew the song but had never ever heard of Thunderclap Newman. Now I know and can amaze and wow my wife with yet more inane trivia about rock music! Can't wait.

[You can add that Pete Townshend of the Who played bass on the song, credited under the alias "Bijou Drains." --Mike]

Thanks for connecting all the strands of these three threads into a teaching moment. Once they're all laid out in front of us, it's clear how it can work. Now, to replicate the steps: that will take some doing.

I sure could have used this post when you featured me in "Random Excellence" a couple of years ago!

As Larry pointed out, it's all clear in hindsight, except that first moment when that spotlight first hits you.


Instead of wasting all that time wondering, you could just read The Guardian article and find out how he did it.

"The professional is the guy who can do it twice" - attributed to Dizzy Gillespie by Pete Hamill in "Why Sinatra Matters".





in my opinion your analysis perfectly describes how important luck and many auxiliary activities are in getting and remaining "noticed" ...

Having looked through Gerald Kingma's website, I can see why he may be a bit peeved by the moniker "jumping lamb guy", because the portfolio as a whole is pretty strong. The fact that one shot catches the eye of a judge, or has immediate commercial appeal, seldom means that it's typical of the artists general intent or message.

Most people remember the accessible stuff, which is galling when you are trying to say something profound, but such is the price of fame (and the risk of typecasting).

It's probably the same problem Patrick Stewart has trying to do Shakespeare :-)On the other hand, Star Trek probably paid for a very comfortable retirement and allows him to take on theatre roles for fun, not money.

Being an artist, being famous and being a professional are all different things. Which corner of the triangle you gravitate towards generally says much more about your personality than your ability, but overall the most "successful" in the conventional sense are the ones who manage to keep all three factors in sight.

You never know what might happen. Gerard took a gambol and it paid off. (sorry)

Apropos Will Frostmill's comment about the appeal of things that so fit into the created world that their 'meaning' is inescapable..

There is a chapter in Charles Duhigg's very readable book 'Habit' (how they are made and how to change them) on that very subject.

I learned for example, that the music industry is engaged in the science of introducing new songs - interleaving them with other established ones on the radio - to take advantage of that appeal..

Curse you, Mike! The "Something in the Air" reference compelled me to find it on You Tube, and now I have that song rolling around my brain. The song itself is decent, but the John Lennon impression by the lead singer is not. At least that's how it looks from my vantage point nearly 45 years downstream. Back in the 60s, almost everyone was imitating the Beatles.

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