That is exactly what has happened to AFP photographer Olivier Morin, whose stunning image of Usain Bolt after his victory in the men's 100m final in Moscow made almost as many headlines as the race it illustrated.
Here at Eurosport-Yahoo! we called it "career defining"and ranked it up among the greatest sports photos of all time, while dozens of other media outlets around the world ran similar stories.
The photographer himself admits to being taken aback by the reaction to his wonderful photograph, and has explained in a lengthy blog on AFP's website about how it came about.
"I took this picture with one of five remote-controlled cameras I’d set up by the side of the track to capture the race winner from various angles and perspectives," Morin explains.
"Of course, I didn't know for sure who'd win, but when I was setting up the gear it seemed like a fair bet to focus on Usain Bolt's lane!
"The idea was to make a photo of the winner with his arms raised and with the stadium in the background, as well as capturing a little bit of the sky."
Morin was initially unsure that he would have captured anything worthwhile.
"When Bolt did win, he seemed somewhat unemotional as he crossed the finish line, only really reacting a moment later. Still, I of course fired all of my cameras – the one in my hands and the remote-controlled devices that can be operated with a foot switch."
The pictures were beamed automatically from the cameras directly to Morin's laptop.
"I started looking through these images one at a time – there were a few decent shots on the first four cameras. Then I opened up the pictures from the final camera," he adds.
"I admit, with only a thumbnail view at first, I didn't even see the lightning in the background, but after a moment I saw four photos with the bolt in the sky.
"Two of these weren't usable because the cloud was too dark and the lightning was hard to see. But with the other two images, thanks to a little luck, the lightning is nice and visible; I'd gotten 'the' shot."
Morin freely admits that it was not him but Mother Nature who had made the shot what it was.
"It’s of course the lightning that makes the photo, because we're talking about Usain Bolt here. Without the flash in the sky, it wouldn't really be anything that special," he says.
"Let's be honest: the only things I was able to control were the framing of the shot and when to hit the remote-controlled trigger. The flash of lightning -– well, of course that can't be planned, even if the stormy sky had been rumbling for 20 minutes and all of us photographers were trying to capture a lightning bolt.
"This was, I think, a once-in-a-lifetime moment. In my 25 years as a photographer I've never had an uncontrollable external element make a photo like this, and I imagine if I tried again for a similar result for the next 50 years, it wouldn't happen again. So, I only really give myself credit for one percent of this picture!"