What does ‘going viral’ mean?

I don’t know what constitutes ‘going viral’ on the internet, but last Friday as i went out to get something out of my car I discovered some beautiful light and a light rain and thought there might be a rainbow about someplace. Sure enough, there it was hovering over Meadville, Pennsylvania, in all its glory.

I was told by others who also saw it that it was a double rainbow, but from where I was all I could see was the two sides of a single.

I have missed many a rainbow photo before by chasing them to find a perfect locale for just that right shot, so I’ve learned to make a picture were you are and find something to really connect with visually instead of missing the shot entirely.

So there was this beautiful late afternoon light coming across the buildings and I could see the light really hitting the cross on St. Agatha’s a couple blocks away. There were powerlines everywhere in the way but moving myself about 100 yards I found a hole to photograph through the chaos of lines and made this image.

I thought about Michael Williamson of the Washington Post who said he underexposes by 2 stops and knew that’s what I had to do here to expose nicely for the highlight of the cross. I also thought of Ansel Adams picture “Moonrise over Hernandez New Mexico 1941”, how light bounced off the crosses in that town.

Thinking of these great photographers made me feel like the image I made of the rainbow and cross was just an average photo and wished it was better. But I posted it anyway and thought I’d share with the readers of The Derrick and The News-Herald via Facebook. Since it wasn’t really an on the clock photo from our coverage, I wasn’t sure who would really care to see, but shared it anyway.

Well I’m not sure what happened but I’ve never had a picture do what this has done. In just 3 days its been shared by over 1,100 people and received more likes and comments than any other post I’ve ever made. Crazy.

I’m glad people like it and have been moved by the image, but I have to admit that now when I post something and it only gets a half-dozen likes, it’ll be a bit of a let down.

I also put it out on Instragram with an Instagram filter just to share it even more. It hasn’t gotten the same response on Instagram, but it still has been one of my more popular images.


So, not sure if there is a number that indicates going viral, I’m sure I haven’t reached it with this, but it’s closer than any other image I’ve ever made.