How to make a $900,000 shot

If you don’t have time to watch the video that explains how one photo has, to-date, earned its makers $900,000, here’s the whole story in two paragraphs. This now-famous shot of an iceberg has earned its creators $900,000 since it was first made in 1998. The money shot, pun intended, is not a pure, single image, but rather the resulting composite of a number of shots that were taken at different locations around the world. Here’s what one of the creators had to say about the shot:

All of my composite work is done so you don’t really think about that it’s a composite. So, I’m trying to recreate things that I’ve seen or that I want to see that I can’t photograph — doesn’t exist — the technology, can’t do it with lenses or whatever it is. But more importantly, it’s coming up with the idea, the concept, of how to make a composite real for people, rather than just a montage of a bunch of different pictures put together, you know, and so I think you have to get past the technology. People have to look at it and go, “Gosh, it’s absolutely beautiful. I saw it that way, but I’ve never seen a picture like that.

My 2¢: That’s likely one of the most honest and enlightened explanations of a modern photographer’s craft I’ve heard. The distance between the press of a shutter and a money-shot masterpiece has always been a lot greater than most people would believe. Or, as Michelangelo put it, “If people knew how hard I worked to get my mastery, it wouldn’t seem so wonderful at all.”