Getty Images, the world’s biggest stock photo agency, has a treasure trove of historical photographs typically reserved for editorial use. In its archive of more than 80 million images, you’ll find Obama on his campaign trail, the Beatles in a swimming pool, Earth as seen from the moon, and Eadweard Muybridge’s famous study of a horse in motion. Now, Getty is making those images available to anyone through Photos.com by Getty Images, a site where you can purchase high-quality framed prints of the agency’s best photography.
It’s an intriguing business move that follows a series of other strategic shifts aimed at updating the photo agency for the digital age. Rampant piracy and free content galore have eradicated the old rules governing photography as a business. Getty is simply getting with the times. In February, the agency launched the Lean In Collection in collaboration with Sheryl Sandberg–a campaign to promote feminist depictions of women in stock imagery. The following month, Getty made its images available for free online in a non-commercial context. With an open embed tool, users can grab any image they want, as long as Getty gets a footer with a credit and link to the licensing page. The launch of Photos.com is a way of bringing in some extra cash and reminding consumers of Getty’s historical legacy in the field of photography at a time when Instagram has made everyone a photographer.
Prices for prints start at $90.CD