What exactly was the story behind the making of the most iconic photograph taken during the 2017 full solar eclipse?
Photographers Ted Hesser and Andrew Studer joined forces during the great American eclipse of 2017, which resulted in the dramatic story of the making of the most iconic photo of the year. The media immediately rushed to unravel their tale; the picture was so amazing, many suspected someone had photo-shopped the image.
Skeptics of the photo’s authenticity fell silent, however when Hesser and Studer produced footage that their team had taken during the epic shoot. It had taken a total of 4 days for Hesser, and his girlfriend Martine Tibell to scout out the perfect location, noting where the site of the eclipse would be most spectacular. Hesser and Tibell are also both avid rock climbers, so the idea was to include the silhouette of a climber in contrast to the celestial phenomenon.
Setting up an iconic photo shoot
31-year-old Hesser settled on setting up the photo shoot focussing on a famous landmark called Monkey Face. Monkey Face sits in Oregon’s Smith Rock State Park. Hesser claims he noticed how it would make the perfect location the day before, despite the climb to the top of the rock formation being arduous.
Hesser formed a team with fellow photographer Andrew Studer, Michael Shainblum, who captured the video footage, and Columbia Sportswear. The lucky climber posed in the image was Tommy Van Smith. They all set up camp in the State Park and rose extremely early to set up for what would be likely the most important photo taken during 2017.
The photographers poised themselves at the foot of Monkey Face, while Tibell and Smith climbed the formation to make sure they could put Smith in the most optimal position for the shot. Husser admits that they managed to stage the image with only minutes to spare before the eclipse began.
YOUTUBE Video (Columbia Sportswear):
Mystical silhouette of the climber set against the eclipse
Initially, Husser admits he was worried that his fantasy image would fall through. When the sun began its ascent in the sky, he worried if the rock formation would obscure the eclipse. However, his fears were allayed, and he and fellow photographer Studer were able to capture the mystical silhouette of Smith contrasted against this once in a life time sight of totality.
Hesser described how the creation of the image came together with perfection: “I was on adrenaline. I couldn’t at that moment believe it had so perfectly lined up.” He and Studer shot several frames. Meanwhile, Smith braved painful cramps as he held his iconic pose, surrounded by ethereal light.
Image goes viral
Immediately following the shoot, Hesser and Studer uploaded their images to Instagram, and followers inundated them with likes. The image went viral, propelling both the photographers to international fame.