Namib Ground Squirrel (Male...)

After twenty years as a full-time wildlife photographer, I have had the good fortune to spend time in the company of many animals, and create a body of work of which I am very proud. But there is one image that will almost certainly outlive me : this ridiculous squirrel. This will almost certainly be my legacy.

The fact is, if you spend any time on the internet, you will almost certainly have come across this little fellow. He has appeared in many forms: animated greeting cards, truck ornaments, and t-shirts (inc. one worn by Leonardo DiCaprio).

This is the only image of mine that has gone truly viral – for some reason, it holds special resonance with men – but I rarely get paid for its use.  Honestly, if I had a nickel (or $100) for every unauthorized use of this image worldwide, I could probably retire (which essentially means doing exactly what I do now).

But this is the age of the internet, which may also signal the waning days of the business of stock photography. There are simply too many pictures available for pennies, or for free, (or at least perceived that way) further reducing the value of a lifetime of images.  To me, this picture is just a vivid symbol of the end of photography as we know it.

So enjoy the picture. In a way, I’m happy to help decorate a generation of dorm rooms and illustrate about a billion e-cards. Yes, the picture is copyrighted, but no one seems to care. Welcome to the future.

LEGAL NOTICE: This image is available for licensing through Corbis.com.