February 14, 2018

Hannah Graves

What’s It Like When Your Image Goes Viral?

Lucan Coutts by Clark McRorie
An Interview With Lucan Coutts

The "Bladerunner" Photographer

Lucan Coutts is the young Canadian photographer behind “2049”. A now iconic image he shot during the last week of 2017 when Toronto was hit by a heavy snowstorm. He named the shot “2049” when it was described as “Bladerunner-esque” by the internet. It looks like it could be a still from the most recent Bladerunner film of the same title, but he’s never actually seen it. “That angle of Dundas Square always reminded me of the heavy signage that I saw in Hong Kong, and I really wanted to emphasize that concept.  Although this photo fits in seamlessly with the Blade Runner aesthetic, I have never seen the movie and just used my own mind’s eye for the entire image”.

Photo Credit: "2049", Lucan Coutts

Causing A Twitter Storm

The image first picked up traction on Twitter, where it had gathered 15,000 likes after six hours. At last count, the image had more than 147,000 likes and 45,000 retweets. We may dream of having an image go viral, but what’s it like in reality?

Sensory Overload

“I wasn’t credited in the original tweet, so I was a little frustrated because I thought that the tweet had already peaked.  I jumped into the thread regardless to claim credit for the photo.  I was surprised to see that my own tweet was getting a few dozen likes after just half an hour; so despite being six hours late to the party, it was actually the perfect time. I had already gained quite a few Twitter followers at the time it was posted on Reddit. My photo was orphaned yet again, but somebody else notified me at just the right time; I claimed credit and linked my comment to my Instagram account. As soon as that post hit the front page of Reddit, my notifications were buzzing nonstop and I would gain hundreds of followers every minute. I was absolutely stunned to see that I had climbed past 20,000 followers and approaching 30,000 by the end of the night. It was a little bit of a sensory overload”.

Going viral, a blessing or a curse?

Reflecting on the experience, Lucan is grateful for the exposure it’s given him, “Overall, it is undoubtedly a blessing; having a sizable audience will be a stepping stone to many greater opportunities outside of Instagram. Before my work went viral, my audience was essentially limited to the surrounding Toronto area, but now a majority of my followers are from countries other than Canada.  It’s an awesome feeling to have my work outside of my home city, and it is even more incredible to see some of my prints shipped off to faraway places including the UK and Australia”.

What's next?

Although it’s early days, the photographer has some exciting new projects in the pipeline. “I do have a handful of meetings set up within the next few weeks to discuss potential job opportunities or to have my work featured in a gallery.  I have also been able to secure different opportunities to shoot some of my favorite musical artists in the coming months”. Lucan is turning the experience into a learning opportunity. Both for himself and others. “For me, the most exciting part is meeting other people who share a similar style and share a similar level of passion for photography. Just being around like-minded people who can offer a different perspective is incredibly inspiring. I always love broadening my horizons and learning from those who specialize in different styles”.

Skill sharing

The biggest project he is currently working on is a set of Skillshare tutorials. They will cover his workflow and editing styles “I am working alongside a close friend to make this happen.  We both have incredibly high standards for production quality and I’m so excited to see the end result”.

Support the artist, buy his work!

Lucan has a storefront set up on his website (https://www.lucancoutts.com/store/ ) and he mostly publishes his work on Instagram (https://instagram.com/lucancoutts/ ) and on 500px (https://500px.com/lucan )

If you, like Lucan, have trouble knowing exactly where your work is being used (with or without authorization), Pixsy can help.

Create a free account, upload your body of work and see exactly where and by whom it's being used!

Hannah Graves

As Pixsy's Product Marketing and Community Manager, Hannah is always keen to start conversations and she loves to make connections! With years of experience working with and advocating for visual artists, she is passionate about fair pay for fair work and enjoys helping to get artists paid, and heard.

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