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Photobombing is a practical joke that involves trespassing and posing distraction in the foreground or background of a picture during a photo shoot, typically unbeknownst to the photographer.
While the art of photobombing may well precede the history of the Internet (as supported by authentic photographs showing The Beatles members pulling the prank on each others in the 1970s), one of the earliest known photobombers was Rollen Stewart (also known as “The Rainbow Man”), who became a pop culture phenomenon in the late 1970s and early 1980s for wearing a rainbow-colored afro wig while holding up a sign reading “John 3:16” during live sporting events nationwide.
Photobombing most likely became a widespread phenomenon on the Internet following the technological transition from traditional film to digital photography in the early 2000s, along with the emergence of photo-sharing communities like Flickr and Facebook a few years later.
On May 6th, 2008, The earliest known Urban Dictionary definition of “photobombing” was submitted by user U8IK, which was later highlighted as the Urban Word of the Day on June 20th, 2008. Three days later on June 23rd, the Flickr group Photobombers was launched for people to share their own photobomb exploits online. In the following years, similar definitions for “photobomb” and “photobombers” followed and the same word was featured again as the Urban Word of the Day twice, on December 5th, 2009 and September 28th, 2012.
Hundreds of additional examples of photobombing can be found on a wide range of image-sharing and hosting sites, including Photobucket, Facebook, Tumblr and Instagram, as well as single topic blogs like Photobomb.net and internet humor sites like CollegeHumor, Funny or Die and Memebase among many others.
Crasher Squirrel (2009)
Crasher Squirrel refers to the single character image macro of a squirrel randomly placed into photos.
I Hate Iceland
“"*I Hate Iceland*"”:http://knowyourmeme.com/memes/i-hate-iceland is a quotable one-liner by Anton McEneny, a 23 year-old Scottish traveler who barged into live broadcast during a Sky News report on massive flight cancellations at Edinburgh Airport on April 14, 2010. Despite being abrupt, Anton’s commentary was perhaps seen as timely and gained both media attention and online buzz in the following days.
Paul Yarrow (2011)
Paul Yarrow is a mysterious man from South London, UK, who has been regularly appearing in the background of various live news reports, in a manner similar to Photobombing.
Jack Blankenship’s Face (2012)
Jack Blankenship’s Face, also known as “The Face,” is an oversized cutout of University of Alabama student Jackson Blankenship’s contorted face which he uses during college basketball games as a distraction to the opposing team.
Stingray Photobomb (2012)
Stingray Photobomb is a photo featuring three young women startled with a stingray at their backs. The photo went viral in September 2012 after it was posted on Reddit.
The technique has been also frequently applied in the realm of moving pictures, especially during live news reports or on-air events. Requiring a higher level of concentration and some sort of immunity to public eyes, one could arguably describe videobombing as a form of borderline performance art. Some of the more notable videobombers include Paul Yarrow and I Hate Iceland Guy.