What comes to mind when you think of “the most viewed photo in the world”? Eddie Adams’ split-second capture of the brutalism of the Vietnam war? A sailor kissing his girlfriend in Times Square? While these iconic photographs are known the world over, you might be surprised to learn that the most viewed photo of all time is actually a simple, unedited image of green grass and blue sky.
Charles “Chuck” O’Rear is an American photographer with over 25 years experience pointing, shooting, and capturing the world’s beauty in a snapshot. His work has been featured in no less than 25 National Geographic features. While O’Rear’s photographs have captured the wonder of Canada, Siberia, Silicon Valley, Indonesia, and the Mexican Riviera, his most successful image would be “Bliss”, bought by Microsoft in 2001 to be their default wallpaper. Years later, O’Rear’s “Bliss” was named the most viewed photo in the world. Culture Trip had the pleasure to interview Charles on his past works and see what could be coming next.
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Looking for an expert's perspective?Uncover my top 3 recommended places from each continent on the map.
1. GuatemalaAn express adventure for those with limited time off. Prepare yourself incredible experiences. You will hike a volcano, visit mayan temples and witness a ceremony and take in beautiful colonial Antigua.
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3. MexicoAn exciting mini trip exploring the lesser known colonial towns of central Mexico. This is hte perfect trip for someone with limited time off and still wants to turn on explorer mode and do something different.
1. EcuadorA remarkable 8 days adventure through the Andes and the Amazon rainforest. The best choice for adventure seekers wishing to visit the 2 most iconic areas of South America, in only 1 week and no flights.
2. PeruAn alternative itinerary to classic Peru, from Cusco to Arequipa. This itinerary is great combination of highlights Cusco and Machu Picchu with the lesser known Arequipa and Colca Canyon.
1. ItalyThe ultimate Italian experience from the vibrant streets of Naples to the breathtaking sceneries of the Amalfi Coast followed by Matera and down to Puglia with its golden beaches, intense flavours and fascinating destinations.
2. ScotlandEmbark on this great adventure starting from London all the way to Scotland with a true Scottish experience made of breathtaking sceneries, whisky tasting and ..lots of fun! Ideal for train lovers and explorers.
3. PortugalA wonderful train journey around Portugal, from the romantic city of Porto to the Douro Valley, to the beautiful Aveiro all the way to Lisbon and Sintra. The perfect trip to train, culinary and culture lovers.
1. South KoreaDiscover incredible temples, mountains and modern cities on this 10 day adventure. This trip is perfect for those seeking immersion in the cuisine, culture and natural wonders of South Korea.
2. ThailandFrom Bankgok to Angkor Wat to Ho Chi Minh City and everything in between - adventure through the heart of South-East Asia. Taste the delights, see history brought to life and unwind on a Mekong River cruise.
3. Sri LankaA fantastic adventure that showcases Sri Lanka's fantastic landscapes, wildlife and flavours. With 3 epic rail journeys, 3 UNESCO heritage sites and time to relax, this trip has loads to offer at a great price
1. MoroccoAn epic journey across Morocco: from Casablanca to Marrakech, through the blue city of Chefchaouen to the wonders of the desert and deep to the High Atlas Mountains - this trip has it all! Ideal for true explorers!
2. EgyptFrom Cairo to Aswan, this trip brings the land of the pharaohs to life. You'll visit the Pyramids, Valley of the Kings and Luxor Temple and cruise down the Nile in style. This is the perfect way to explore Egypt.
What made you want to pursue photography?
As a teenager I had interest in journalism, so during college I pursued photography and newspaper reporting. After college I became a reporter and photographer for the Kansas City Star (Missouri). After a stint with the Los Angeles Times I began freelance photography and, in 1971, produced my first story for National Geographic Magazine. I photographed for the magazine until 1995.
Why nature photography?
I find nature photography to be challenging and rewarding. Most often I prefer to not aim my cameras at people, rather scenery and or anything that doesn’t move, including people.
Can you tell us about the shooting of “Bliss”? What were you doing that day?
During most of my career I always carried a camera in my car, never knowing when I could see the perfect photo. Around 1995, I was driving north of San Francisco when I saw the bright green grass, blue sky and clouds. I stopped, photographed it, and the rest is history.
A sequel to “Bliss” has been a long time coming. What got the project finalized?
I was approached by a design firm representing Lufthansa Airlines. I agreed to travel through the American West and record striking images that could be used on smartphones.
What do you hope for your photographs to evoke in viewers?
When done well, nature photography can illustrate peace and quiet, such as “Bliss”. That is my goal.
How did your life change after “Bliss” was named the most viewed photo in the world?
The popularity of “Bliss” has been an exciting time. After 25 years photographing for National Geographic Magazine all over the world, future generations (and my tombstone) will remember “Bliss” before any of the work I did for this famous magazine!
While known best for blissful natural landscapes, O’Rear has also taken snapshots of the people he’s encountered on the way. See some examples below.
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