How an Elementary School Teacher Took the Most Popular Viral GoPro Photo To Date

How an Elementary School Teacher Took the Most Popular Viral GoPro Photo To Date

Elementary school teacher turned shark tour intern, Amanda Brewer, recently took a photo of a great white shark emerging from the depths with her GoPro. After sharing the image with GoPro on Instagram and it being published as their Photo of the Day, the image has received international press coverage, amassed over 360K likes, and already been commissioned for a billboard near the port at which it was taken. In this interview with Jared Polin, of Fro Knows Photo, Amanda tells the story of how the photo was taken and, in Jared's words, "What to do when your photo goes viral, real bleeping viral."

For anyone who doesn't want to sit through the interview here's the TL;DW version:

Amanda interned with an Eco-Tourism company in Mossel Bay, South Africa called White Shark Africa during the summer of ’14. Her work with the company involved work with scientists and conservation experts as well as helping on shark-spotting trips. During one such trip Amanda was in a shark cage with her GoPro. Everything happened pretty quickly, when they’d attracted a shark it all came down to good timing and luck. According to Amanda, “[a] shark popped out of the water, I caught it in a burst, and the rest is history.”

Following her epic capture, Amanda submitted the image to GoPro’s Photo of the Day page, after a week or so of waiting it was published on the GoPro's Instagram feed (see embed below) where it got an outrageous amount of attention.

Since then, Amanda has had the photo and story behind it run in publications such as Time and made the morning news circuit including the Today Show and Good Morning America.

Of course in cases of viral images, not all the news is positive. It sounds like Amanda has run up against several challenges with regards to image rights. As an employee at White Shark Africa, she signed a document giving the company (partial) rights to any images generated (though she seemed to be very unclear on the details). Furthermore, by submitting the image to GoPro she further reduced her rights to the image. She has since made a six-month arrangement with a media outlet who manages licensing and syndicating her image.

Amanda is using her newfound publicity to bring awareness to her passion, namely shark preservation, and bringing positive attention to White Shark Africa.

Below is the Raw Talk podcast that includes the interview which begins at 51:35.

Here's the image as run by GoPro on their Instagram.


Photo of the Day! Say cheese! Amazing image from @ab_roo, who is working to promote shark conservation in South Africa.

View on Instagram


You can keep up with Amanda at her Instagram and be sure to check out the work of White Shark Africa.

[Via Jared Polin @ Fro Knows Photo]

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Austin Rogers joined Fstoppers in 2014. Austin is a Columbus, OH editorial and lifestyle photographer, menswear aficionado, pseudo-bohemian, and semi-luddite. To keep up with him be sure to check out his profile on Fstoppers, website, drop him a line on Facebook, or throw him a follow on his fledgling Instagram account.

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Great post and recap of the interview...I was able to make it through about 5 seconds of the video interview.

That's a hell of a legal dept GoPro has. It sounds like they can use content you captured with their camera for ANYTHING they want for as long as they want and not give you anything except maybe a camera and/or some coupons. Since Amanda isn't a photographer, that might not mean much to her. And she "said" she would probably do it anyway had she known the specifics. But I have to wonder if this might impact future submissions. I mean if you have a "diamond in the rough" video, why should they be the only ones that can cash in? Their T.O.S. prevents you from licensing the image to someone else? That's pretty messed up.

And furthermore, GoPro is tagging her image Hero4 on Inastagram which undoubtedly will drive more customers to buy that camera thinking that's what she used when in fact, she didn't. Very shrewd and shady.

But at least she can use her few minutes of newly found fame to try to direct interest to what the organization is all about even though news outlets probably couldn't care less. All they want to ask are the usual corny questions and gloss over her responses about the non-profit.