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Is This Trending Photograph Making a Statement About Overfishing?

09/11/2015 10:49 EDT | Updated 09/11/2016 05:12 EDT

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Photo by Neil Kremer

With the bounty of the sea on their restaurant table two spear fishermen, still in their dive gear, prepare to place an order with a nonplussed waiter. Is this rapidly trending photograph a statement about overfishing and the gluttony of man or just a photographic bon mot for the internet?

"It certainly had that (environmental) message but somehow it went terribly wrong," said California photographer Neil Kremer. He and his partner Cory Johnson spent two weeks building the restaurant set inside their Redondo Beach studio, hiring actors, lighting the set and ultimately taking this picture they call "Catch to Table."

"We are a photography team (Kremer / Johnson) specializing in environmental, studio, and narrative portraiture," Kremer told me in a telephone interview. "Our images are both stylized and authentic, showcasing our subjects in engaging and impactful ways."

The fish piled on top of the table in the picture are real, but, Kremer says they were far from fresh when they bought them on the cheap. The two models in scuba gear are also real, they are both certified divers and have modeled again in dive gear for Kremer and Johnson since that original May photo session.

The only thing not real in the photograph are the two fishing pictures in back of the table. Kremer said that when he took this shot there was just two empty frames ("yes those frames are real!") and the pictures were added digitally after the shoot.

The end result, Catch to Table, was meant as a message image to be shown to publications and advertising in hopes of getting photo assignments and commission.

"Our agent saw it and said that just wasn't right and advised us not to show it around," said Kremer. " I thought it may not be good enough to show to clients but I it might do well on Flickr (a popular image hosting and video hosting website owned by Yahoo). We took the picture back in May and it wasn't until late August that I posted it on Flickr."

He was right about the image being suitable for Flickr. Within 36 hours of being posted, Catch to Table had been seen by over 500 people and a 1,000 over the next two days. The view count now stands at almost 55,000 and climbing. The shot is going viral and the two photographers are acquiring fans (many of them divers) from around the world.

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