World can't get enough of this pic of a giraffe photobombing SA newlyweds

29 August 2018 - 12:18 By Barbara Hollands
Abby the giraffe photobombing newlyweds Tristan and Luke Karshagen.
Abby the giraffe photobombing newlyweds Tristan and Luke Karshagen.
Image: Stephanie Norman

When a massive giraffe photobombed her wedding shoot, East London wedding photographer Stephanie Norman had no idea the photograph would go viral and be in demand from media houses the world over.

Norman, 28, who was a Daily Dispatch news photographer for five years until 2016, now owns Stephanie Norman Photography and has shot scores of weddings, but none of her pictures have ever caused a global stir of this magnitude.

The picture of massive giraffe, Abby, looming over bridal couple Tristan and Luke Karshagen has set a new standard for iconic wedding pictures and has been featured in several international television news broadcasts and newspapers as well as raking in thousands of hits online.

Norman has been fielding a constant stream of calls from reporters working for the BBC, CNN, ABC, Al Jazeera, and publications such as the Huffington Post, the UK’s Daily Mirror and Daily Mail as well as newspapers in Sweden and Denmark, all wanting to know how the photograph came about.

Even a reporter from the Ellen Degeneres Show wanted the story for the hit show’s online platform.

Speaking to the Dispatch yesterday, an overwhelmed Norman said she had taken the wedding party to Areena Riverside Resort on August 18 because conditions were less windy than they were at Cypress Dale Country Venue where the bridal couple had exchanged wedding vows.

“I was taking photos in an avenue of trees when suddenly this huge giraffe popped its head over the trees,” said Norman.“Everybody was nervous and the bridesmaids hid in the bush, but he just loped calmly towards us and stood there and watched us. He just seemed inquisitive. Then he went to the bridesmaids, drooled on one of them and tried to get at their rose bouquets.”

Abby, a 15-year-old male giraffe was hand-reared at the private game reserve after his mother had been poached.

Five-metre-tall Abby is comfortable around humans to the point that he used to pinch camper’s sandwiches and has since been encouraged to roam the reserve.

Norman decided to make the most of the situation and asked the bridal couple to pose in front of the lofty mammal. And that is when the magic happened.

The giraffe stepped closer to them and then he lowered his head and started nuzzling Luke’s head. We were all just speechless
Photographer Stephanie Norman

“The giraffe stepped closer to them and then he lowered his head and started nuzzling Luke’s head. We were all just speechless. Then Luke started laughing and patted his nose.”

It was only when Norman looked at her photograph after the wedding that she realised how special it was.

“I posted it on Facebook and things went crazy – I got 262 shares. I realised people like giraffes. A lot.”

Next she posted the photo on the Looks Like Film blog for wedding photography.

“Within 45 minutes I had 2,000 likes.”

When Norman received a message from Love What Matters, an American online blog with eight million followers she realised what an impact the photo had made, especially when the story racked up 2,500 likes and 250 shares.

When a UK tabloid requested to pay for exclusive rights to use the picture, Norman turned them down.

“I didn’t want to make money off Tristan and Luke’s wedding. I thought it inappropriate,” Norman said.

For Norman the fact that the image has caused happy ripples all over the world is reward enough.

“I have had e-mails from people I don’t know saying the photo made their day better, so that’s really cool. Animals set an example to the world because they show nothing but love.”

This article was originally published on DispachLIVE.

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