The World’s Most Inspirational Iceberg Is a Fake – Facts So Romantic

What do the Volkswagen diesel scandal and the European migrant crisis have in common? They’ve both been referred to as the “tip of the iceberg.” The popular expression reflects the fact that, as impressive as the visible portion of an iceberg is, the vast majority of it (usually about 90%) is underwater.

Over the past 20 years, one photograph has become associated with the cliché more than any other. If you Google image search “iceberg,” or even “tip of,” it’s the first one that comes up. Ralph Clevenger, below, is the man who took it.

The man and his million-dollar photo: Ralph Clevenger next to the photo he created.Photo courtesy of Ralph Clevenger

The expression, and the photo, have become a mainstay of inspirational posters, expressing concepts like success, imagination, and the human condition. The iceberg’s hidden bulk takes on an air of mystery and as-yet unrealized potential, making it a powerful metaphor—and a money-maker.

Which is fine by Clevenger. A professional photographer for more than three decades, he’s shot for National Geographic, Outside, Audubon, and other magazines, yet he says this image is still what he’s most known for. When it came out, it was actually pretty original. From his…

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