Google Buys Photographer’s Perfectly Timed Photo of Seagull Eating a Fry

Hannah Huxford Standing in Front of Her Photo on Google Ad

Some of the most memorable photos are the result of being in the right place at the right time. In 2011, Hannah Huxford experienced this; she was visiting a seaside English town of Bridlington and her husband had bought a bag of fries. While eating them, they noticed a seagull nearby. “I started taking photographs [with an iPhone 3] of the seagull as my husband threw the chips (fries) at him,” Huxford tells My Modern Met. Among all the images, there was a special picture depicting the moment just before the bird shut its mouth on a delicious salty fry.

The image went viral shortly after Huxford shot it and, most notably, was featured by the BBC. And that might’ve been the end of the story; but on March 22, 2021, Huxford reposted the image to her Instagram and afterward received a curious DM. “I got a private message from a lady who was part of a creative company,” she says, “but at the time it’s from a private account so I ignored it.” Huxford thought it was a spam message.

The woman, however, was persistent. “She tracked me down through one of my blogs which had my email on it.” After telling Huxford that she worked for a design firm in London, she said that the company would like to license the image for a billboard campaign. After signing “a load of confidentiality agreements,” Huxford started to see her photograph used in advertising campaigns for Google across England and Ireland. The image will also be featured for 12 months online.

Since the Google billboards have appeared, Huxford and her husband have been snapping photos of the advertisement in the wild. “Seeing my photograph on a billboard was absolutely mind-blowing,” she shares. This experience has also inspired her to continue snapping pictures. “I am a creative person and it will now inspire me to keep going with my photography, and I hope it will inspire others as well in the art and the photographic world and the creatives just keep going. You never know who’s going to spot you. You never know when you’re going to have that big chance.”

When photography enthusiast Hannah Huxford snapped a picture of a seagull eating a French fry, she never dreamed that 10 years later, Google would license the image for a billboard image.

Hannah Huxford Standing in Front of Her Photo on Google Ad

“Seeing my photograph on a billboard was absolutely mind-blowing,” she tells My Modern Met.

Hannah Huxford Standing in Front of Her Photo on Google AdHannah Huxford Standing in Front of Her Photo on Google AdHannah Huxford: Website | Instagram

My Modern Met granted permission to feature photos by Hannah Huxford. 

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Sara Barnes

Sara Barnes is a Staff Editor at My Modern Met, Manager of My Modern Met Store, and co-host of the My Modern Met Top Artist Podcast. As an illustrator and writer living in Seattle, she chronicles illustration, embroidery, and beyond through her blog Brown Paper Bag and Instagram @brwnpaperbag. She wrote a book about embroidery artist Sarah K. Benning titled 'Embroidered Life' that was published by Chronicle Books in 2019. Sara is a graduate of the Maryland Institute College of Art. She earned her BFA in Illustration in 2008 and MFA in Illustration Practice in 2013.
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