That Starting Wallpaper On Your Device? Meet The Photographer Who Takes Them All

Who knew, right? One look at any of those familiar desktop wallpapers, and automatically you end up wondering: are they real? They don’t look real!

Oh, but they are. They were taken by a rather famous 75-year-old who still holds the record for the most-viewed photo ever. His name is Charles O’Rear.

You might recognize this one shot of his from a typical Windows XP desktop:


1. Remember The Wallpaper “Bliss”?

Charles O’Rear

Yes. You’re looking at a real photo O’Rear took while traveling to visit his girlfriend in Sonoma County, California. He ended up uploading the image to Bill Gates’ stock photo agency “Corbis.”

Microsoft was so impressed that they actually flew him to the Washington headquarters just to get a good copy of that photo from him. It was then his 36-year career was set in motion.


2. Well, Not Really. Truthfully, O’Rear Has Been A Photographer For A VERY LONG TIME.


Who knew at the age of 10 this guy named “Chuck” was going to pick up the iconic “Brownie” camera, one of the first cameras ever invented back in February of 1900? That’s how O’Rear began his journey as a world-renowned photographer. With a very basic cardboard box camera.


3. When He Was 20, He Technically Became A “Professional”

Max Pixel

That love for photography continued to grow as he joined the daily newspaper, the Emporia Gazette, as a photographer back in 1961. The very next year, he signed on as a reporter-photographer for The Kansas City Star; and in 1966, he moved to L.A., working for the prestigious Los Angeles Times. Yes, you guessed it: to shoot photographs for a living.


4. His Notoriety Didn’t Stop There, As “National Geographic” Also Wanted His Work


Back in 1971, the magazine actually hired him specifically to document the lives of Russian villagers in Alaska. Those villagers called themselves “Old Believers” who followed the Eastern Orthodox Church. It was almost like a live, pop-up time capsule, and O’Rear captured it stunningly.

Talk about a career milestone. While he was still with NatGeo, his interests shifted.

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