Doc Jon was walking along the boardwalk April 13 in Madeira Beach, Florida with his Sigma 150-500mm lens attached to his Canon 6D, when a passerby asked him a simple question: "What can you shoot with that thing?" To give an example, the owner of a medical consulting firm who has branded himself Doc Jon spotted an osprey 400 feet over his head, lifted his lens to the sky, and captured what he calls a "one-in-a-trillion shot."
It wasn't just an image of an osprey, though. It was a living example of the food chain, as the osprey clutched in its talons a small shark, which in turn clutched in its jaws a small fish.
"I started shooting and my settings were off. I had no tripod. I was trying to hold it steady, but it was windy out," he said. "I could see the osprey had a fish, but it was far away. It wasn't until I got home, cropped in on it, lightened the shadows, and applied some sharpening that I suddenly saw. 'Oh my god, that's a shark's tail.' Then I saw the fish in its mouth and I knew it was going to go viral."
It's easy to miss upon first glance, and when Doc Jon first posted his incredible photo, it didn't garner much attention. It wasn't until he commented on his own photo pointing out the fish in the shark's mouth that it began to gain some momentum. A local news station caught wind of it and the photo took off. The photo began getting thousands of shares from multiple news outlets and word spread worldwide. Doc Jon said he's been fielding interview requests from places as far away as Sweden, the United Kingdom, Israel, and India.
"The fun part for me is some people are commenting that it's Photoshopped, and obviously, those people don't know the limitations of Photoshop," he said. "Then, other people are telling me I should have sold it instead of sharing it online. I'm laughing, because really, it's not a good photo. The photo itself kind of sucks. But it tells a great story and it's getting me a lot of recognition for my other work now."
Realizing how widely his image was being shared, Doc Jon quickly put together a Facebook album of some of his best work. Images that had barely gotten noticed before are now being shared far and wide as well. Many of his images include other examples of the circle of life as predators eat their prey, but none achieved the singular uniqueness of a predator eating prey that is eating prey. The photographer said it wasn't a simple matter of serendipity that he got the shot. "I'm out all day every day shooting as much as I can," he said. "I take a thousand shots and may only post one, but I'm always out shooting."
Since the photo went viral, Doc Jon said he's become aware that more people are noticing who he is. "I was out shooting great horned owls the other day and there were a bunch of other photographers there," he said. "A woman asked me about what I shoot and I said that I got a shot the other day you may have seen. She said, 'Is it the one with the osprey, the shark, and the fish? You're Doc Jon!' It was like, holy cow, these other photographers out here know who I am now. That was a pretty cool moment."
Images used with permission of Doc Jon.