Meet the artist behind the desert moon pic that went viral

Recently, I had a chance conversation with Saija Lehtonen – the photographer who brought a well-timed shot of a desert moonrise to life as a piece of art called “Postcard Perfect Arizona”. Her work went viral on the web without her knowledge or consent.

When we see spectacular images on the web we often overlook the thought, time and creativity that went into it. In this age of technology, it’s easy to pass off such a beautiful image as computer-aided design, without giving much consideration to the artist behind it. Sadly, social media users have come to treat digital images as public domain content. I’ve been guilty of doing it myself.

Postcard Perfect Arizona by Saija Lehtonen
Postcard Perfect Arizona by Saija Lehtonen

“I have seen this image travel the world on all kinds of pages,” said Saija. “Unfortunately, many of them had my watermark removed. I have also seen the image painted and sketched. The worst is seeing other people claiming it as their image and taking credit for it.”

Saija shot this amazing picture in May 2013 at the foot of the Superstition Mountains near Apache Junction, AZ. However, many who have shared the image on the web inaccurately say it was taken at Saguaro National Park and a host of other places.

When asked her the secret to photographing such a great shot, she said, “I usually head out a couple nights before a full moon to scout a location. That way I know where the moon will rise and can plan on a location to capture it.”

On this particular evening the moon rose just a little bit after sunset – or the twilight hour. It was still somewhat light out and the sky was glowing in shades of pink and blue.

“The moon moves quickly,” she said. “So I was waiting for it to rise just above the mountain for this shot. There was still just enough light to be able to capture the foreground also.”

The real wonder is why Postcard Perfect Arizona was picked to go viral out of the hundreds of award-worthy images Saija has published.

“I never imagined that the image would become so popular at the time I snapped it. You just never know!”

About the artist Sajia-Lehtonen2
Saija Lehtonen took up photography at the age of 12. She loves to share her work with others and hopes to evoke emotion with photography. In recent years, she has pursued photography with much more diligence in pursuit of her lifelong dream. Saija has won many awards for her work and plans to continue with her passion for years to come.

Official prints of “Postcard Perfect Arizona” can be purchased in various formats on You can, and should, browse her gallery of hundreds of spectacular images, many with an American Southwest vibe.

Follow her on Twitter and Facebook.

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