In recent months, more and more photos are showing up on the Internet and being shared across social media sites like Facebook and Twitter. One early example that took off on the Internet is an intentionally set up photobomb involving a sting ray, three girls, and water. Now, however, photobombing — the art of becoming the primary subject of a photo where you’re not the primary subject of the photographer — is quickly becoming a trend in photography.
The earliest example of this trend I can track down is that very same sting ray photo. The New Yorker has a fairly good article covering how that photo came into existence. In brief: it was a set up. If you see an unedited version of it, you can see that there is a man behind the sting ray holding it up so that it looks like it’s got its arms wrapped around the girls. Apparently the trio set up this photo in the hopes of it being featured on the Ellen DeGeneres show. When it wasn’t, the photo went on to languish in obscurity for five years (a veritable eternity in Internet time) before someone noticed it and began sharing it. Now, you’re lucky if you go a week without seeing it.
— da Bird