"The Billboard"

You can't write stuff like this. But if the past few days of my life were made into a sitcom episode, it would be called "The Billboard" — or if it were an episode of "It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia" this would be called "The One When Jen Takes a Photo of a Billboard."

It all began with a harmless coffee break. My co-workers and I walked up Broadway to Crumbs for some caffeination when we saw a strange billboard. The lovey-dovey couple on the billboard coupled with the quote "you are my soulmate forever" made us wonder. Since we are media people at first we thought, "this has to be some kind of marketing/pr move!"

Who are Charles and YaVaughnie? by Jen Gallardo, some rights reserved
Who are Charles and YaVaughnie? by Jen Gallardo, some rights reserved

When we saw the website that the banner linked to, we were most definitely sure it had to be some kind of marketing scheme. The website was a 90's era (meaning: bad) site consisting of a bunch of photos of the joyous couple and quite a few karaoke recordings we'll have to imagine they did together (who records their karaoke outings…?).

I found the whole thing funny and intriguing. And since I've resolved to carry my camera on me every day of the year, I decided to take a picture of it. If anything, I wanted to tell my sister about it because I thought she'd find it amusing. I put the picture in my Flickr photostream and didn't think much of it. I shared it with my Twitter friends, hoping someone would reveal that it was part of Match.com's new marketing strategy or something equally lame.

I was totally not prepared for what happened next. The guy on the billboard was a big exec — president of Oracle (note: Oracle creates almost every database in use by major companies). And the girl he was canoodling with was his mistress. The whole story was plastered on the front page of the New York Post on Friday. I still don't know the full details. Truthfully, I don't think anyone does. But the facts are that someone took out the billboards to expose this situation and it worked.

Since then, I've been contacted by several media outlets because of that little photo I happened to post on Flickr. As you can imagine, the billboard has since been taken down. So far, my photo is being used by CNET, Gawker, Associated Press (that is an array of online national news outlets), CNNMoney.com and Women's Health Magazine online in their coverage of this story. It's been a bit of a whirlwind of activity for me!

Personally, my focus this year has been on building my photography skills and obtaining more photo gigs/selling more prints. I'm hoping this situation, while tragic for the folks involved, can at least have a positive ending by bringing some exposure to my work and also scaring straight the corporate fat cats who think they can get away with living a double life.