When your Photograph Goes Viral

How I handled my viral Dutch landscape photo: From capturing the perfect shot to managing social media buzz, learn my strategies for dealing with sudden online fame.

When your Photograph Goes Viral
My Social Media Experiences with this Dutch Landscape Shot

Capturing the perfect moment

In early May, I captured a photograph of a typical Dutch landscape that went viral. The photo featured the soft colours of the spring leaves at sunset, creating an ethereal light from below.

I meticulously adjusted my position, stepping to the left and right until the disappearing lines of the scene aligned perfectly in the middle. This resulted in an optical illusion, dividing the image into four distinct quadrants.

The process of getting it right
The process of getting it right

Sharing the image

Excited by the result, I shared the photograph across multiple social media platforms. On X and Instagram, I tailored my posts: a pointy text in Dutch for X and a focus on the image for Instagram. I also shared it on Facebook, mainly for my friends, and, unusually, on LinkedIn.

As a Web Strategist, I typically reserve LinkedIn for professional updates, but I felt the image, which could be mistaken for AI-generated, was relevant. The response was overwhelmingly positive, garnering significant attention.

The image goes viral

The situation took an unexpected turn on Saturday when someone on X shared my image without credit. Fortunately, a vigilant follower alerted me. While initially dismayed, I chose a polite approach, claimed the photo, and the original sharer re-shared it, crediting me.

This act of recognition spurred further shares across platforms like BlueSky, Mastodon, and Reddit. The image gained traction rapidly, especially after being shared by Massimo, a prominent X account with over two million followers and howeverythingworks on Instagram (4,4M followers).

It specifically captured attention in Japan, with many users affirming the photo's authenticity and directing others to my original posts.

The photo on X, Instagram and Reddit.
The photo on X, Instagram and Reddit.

Balancing attention and personal life

The influx of attention was both exhilarating and challenging. My days were suddenly filled with managing social media interactions, directing traffic to my original posts on X and Instagram, and updating my blog.

Adding to the challenge, my second grandchild was born the previous Friday, requiring me to split my time between family and social media. It was a delicate balance, but ultimately rewarding.

There goes my organised structure. Time to play again.

Reflecting on the experience

Despite some teasing about the modest scale of my "viral" success compared to major influencers, I am thrilled with the outcome. The experience reinforced my view of social media as a valuable tool for content marketing and gaining recognition as a photographer.

Unlike full-time influencers who work tirelessly to stay on top, I view these moments as a way to connect with a broader audience and showcase my work.

The technique behind the photo

The magic of the photograph lies in precise technique. Ensuring the camera is perfectly level is crucial, as is aligning the disappearing lines centrally. I use an iPhone 12 mini, utilising its grid feature and HDR (High Dynamic Range) setting to balance the lighting.

While some might consider this editing, it is far from "photoshopping." HDR enhances the natural light through intelligent algorithms but does not fall into the realm of generative AI.

Here is a Google Streetview of the location where I was standing.

Someone wrote me and teased me that everyone seems to get more views on it while the make only gets a couple of thousand. It stung me first and then I understood that this is the result of a greedy mindset. That is not the way social media works. You need to be prepared to share because otherwise no one will amplify your product.

I also got poached to sell the rights under what I considered false pretences, so be warned.

Leveraging the attention

The viral moment has opened new doors and provided valuable insights into the dynamics of social media. Moving forward, I plan to continue leveraging such opportunities to blend my professional expertise with my passion for photography.

For those interested in seeing more of my work, here's another example of using optical illusions—a tunnel under Central Station in Amsterdam.

Split View it seems but it is really a single tunnel.

My personal conclusion

This unexpected journey has been both humbling and enlightening. The photograph not only highlighted the beauty of a Dutch landscape but also demonstrated the power of social media in connecting and engaging with a global audience. I'm grateful for the experience and look forward to more moments that blend creativity and strategy.

If you have any suggestions on leveraging this attention further, I'm all ears. Thank you for following along on this exciting adventure. And subscribe to my newsletter if you want to receive spam free updates.

The viral photo gave my online presence a firm boost.

I now also wrote an exclusive and free article on how I harvested the online attention and successfully restructured my digital footprint.

Leveraging a Viral Photo: A Journey in SEO and Digital Strategy
How to benefit from an online, viral event. On the short term, when it happens, and longer term to benefit from search traffic on multiple online places.


Sites around the world wrote about the photo, the discussion and my own article. Here are some examples.

This Unbelievable Optical Illusion is Just One Photo
People have claimed it’s Photoshop. It’s not.
Symmetrische Straße, Bäume und ein Kanal: Echt oder KI?
Ein atemberaubendes Foto, eine symmetrische Straße, Bäume und ein Kanal sorgte kürzlich im Internet für Aufsehen.
非 P 圖也不是 AI 生成!這張相片如何拍? - DCFever.com
社交媒體近日有張「奇怪」的相片被廣傳。這張相片看似是由 2 張(有人可能覺得是更多張)相片拼湊而成,但事實是,它是一張過拍攝的實景相片。構圖