Two photographers unknowingly take exact same photo

  • 12/03/2018
Two New England photographers took eerily similar photos during a storm.
Two New England photographers took eerily similar photos during a storm. Photo credit: Ron Risman/Eric Gendron

In an improbable coincidence, two photographers have ended up somehow taking the exact same photo with no idea the other was even there. 

Ron Risman, a professional photographer based in New England, headed to the coast of New Hampshire on March 3 in the middle of an intense storm.

Writing for photography website PetaPixel, he said he wanted to capture the beauty of the windswept waves as they crashed around Whaleback Lighthouse, which is located 1.2km off the coast.

He set up his camera and tripod and took a number of photos over the course of about 45 minutes - oblivious to the fact that another photographer was doing the same thing less than 30m away. 

Back at home, Mr Risman selected his favourite shot to edit and upload to Instagram. The photo, which captured the exact moment an enormous wave hit the lighthouse, attracted a lot of attention after it was shared by a local TV station.

However, not all the comments were positive. One person accused him of stealing the image from Eric Gendron, another New England photographer. 

Mr Risman was astonished to find that Mr Gendron had uploaded a strikingly similar photo of the lighthouse. While exposure and contrast had been edited differently, to the naked eye, the two images appeared to be identical.

"We had what looked like the exact same image, taken at the exact millisecond in time, from what looked like the same exact location and perspective," Mr Risman wrote.

The photos were so alike that Mr Risman was initially concerned that it was his photo that had been stolen. 

However, after analysing the two images, he realised that some very subtle differences (such as the water in front of the lighthouse and the angle of the iron gating at the top) indicated that Mr Gendron had actually captured the very same moment in time from a slightly different position.

The photo Eric Gendron uploaded to his photography website.
The photo Eric Gendron uploaded to his photography website. Photo credit:

While Mr Risman sheltered by a tree to take his photos, Mr Gendron was stationed under a picnic enclosure just 28 metres to his left and slightly behind him.

The two men, who have never met before, have been in contact to marvel over the coincidence that they both chose to take photos at the same time and place, and that they both selected an image of the exact same moment to publish. 

Mr Risman, a time-lapse expert with years of experience, says he's never encountered such a phenomenon before, as even two photos of a moving object taken just one seventh of a second apart will usually look noticeably different. 

"Until now I have never seen two images that were so close as to be virtual clones of each other."