Chuck O'Rear was driving to visit his girlfriend when he was struck by the beauty of the rolling vineyards. Many people would have carried on without bothering to stop
and take a photograph. But the former National Geographic magazine photographer was so entranced by the green of the grass and the white clouds in the perfectly blue California sky that he pulled over and got out his camera. Never for a moment did he think
the shot would become the most viewed image on the planet.
When it comes to famous photographs, a computer desktop image is unlikely to be the first thought on most people’s minds. But more than a billion people around the world have seen O’Rear’s photo of the countryside near his Napa Valley home. Most of them don't
even realise they have been looking at it. For it was chosen by Microsoft engineers as the desktop image for their Windows XP background, Daily Mail reports.
Although the 69-year-old photographer signed a confidentiality agreement so he can't say how much he got paid — it is reportedly the second most expensive photo licence ever purchased. “I drove the same route between Napa and San Francisco a couple of times
a week in 2002 or 2003 but this was January when the grass is the most brilliant green here so I jumped out and took a couple of shots and then carried on my way,” said O’Rear.
He didn’t give much more thought to the picture after picking up girlfriend Daphne Larkin, who he married shortly after. It was only when he got a call from his agent with the Corbis photo archive telling him that Microsoft wanted the original of the picture
that he discovered he’d hit the jackpot. “I had no idea when I took the photograph that anything like that could happen. It is probably the most recognised photo on the planet. If you took it to some village in Bangladesh they might recognise it or you could
stop somebody walking down the street in China and they may know what it is,” he said.