Caught in the blizzard of virality: The ups and downs of making a viral photograph


posted Friday, July 29, 2016 at 9:00 AM EST


Street and architectural photographer Michele Palazzo captured one of the most iconic images from the massive blizzard, Winter Storm Jonas, that dropped heaps of snow along the mid-Atlantic coast in the United States this past January. In a talk for B&H, Palazzo discussed the image itself and what it was like to have taken a viral photograph. Palazzo was born in Italy and moved to New York City five years ago after working as a consultant in Italy for many years. Despite having a master's degree in architecture, he never worked as an architect. However, his understanding of and passion for architecture show through in his photography.

On the morning that Jonas hit the Big Apple, Palazzo was excited for the extreme conditions and after bundling up, headed out into the storm with his Ricoh GR. He hoped to photograph people near the iconic Flatiron Building but there were unfortunately no people around, as he was one of the few willing to brave the inclement weather. Once he'd finished capturing his images, he trekked home. 

After posting his image to Instagram, 500px and EyeEm, his now well-known shot went viral. He says that using hashtags in social media is very important if you want your images to get more views and likes. What are factors that influence whether or not an image goes viral? It has to be a really nice image, obviously, but there's more to it than that. An advantage that Palazzo's photo has is that it captures a very special moment, a situation that is unlike any other and it is relatable to the tens of millions of people who experienced this particular storm (or other severe storms like it). There's a downside to an image going viral, however, as you'll hear in the video below.

To see more of Michele Palazzo's work, visit his website and follow him on Instagram. To see more talks like Michele's above, visit B&H's YouTube channel

(Seen via ISO 1200)