archival images getty 1
3 minutesVisual storytelling tips

4 Things to Consider When Using Archival Images


Weaving archival imagery into your marketing campaign has the power to tell an evocative story to a global audience. Images of history's most well-known people or events tap into a language understood by all with a unique emotional resonance that stock photos just can't touch.  

Finding the perfect image that's sure to pop is always tough. But there are a few extra things to consider when using archival imagery in your projects. The last thing you want is to run into copyright issues or licensing roadblocks. 

With that being said, Getty Images has outlined four questions to ask when using archival imagery from their platform: 

1. How will the image be used? 

Once you've found the right photo, double-check to ensure it doesn't require any further clearance by running it past Getty Images' Rights & Clearance team. It also depends on how you're using the image.  

archival imagery getty 2

Image from Getty Images  

If you want to use the content for editorial purposes, you (usually) don't have to worry about it if you're reporting a story of general interest. However, if it's a commercial project, and the editorial image you've chosen features people, properties, trademarks, artwork, logos, etc., then you most likely need to get someone else's permission.  

Luckily, Getty Images has one of the largest (and oldest) privately held collections of archive imagery in the world. It features over 130 million images, from historical images created in the early 1800s to the 1990s. The Getty Images archives also house a wealth of significant historical visuals—including 14 million video clips and counting. 

2. Does the image contain celebrities? 

Some faces can never be forgotten. 

archival images getty 3

   Image from Getty Images 

Celebrities that have stood the test of time resonate across markets and make campaigns memorable. Their legacy rests on their personal brand, which has the power to amplify your message when the two are paired just right.  

Getty Images’ Rights & Clearance team are pros when it comes to working with celebrities or their estates on a wide variety of projects. They would be happy to facilitate a clearance on your behalf to give your campaign some star power. 

getty images archival 4

Image from Getty Images 

3. What if you can't identify the people or location? 

Sometimes, the most striking moments happen on an unassuming street corner or in an unnamed, low-lit diner. How can you use these images without getting into some muddy licensing waters? 

archival images getty 5

 Image from Getty Images 

When it's nearly impossible to identify the people or places in your chosen photo, Getty Images' Rights and Clearance experts can assess the images or footage, along with your use case, to see if Getty Images can offer enhanced indemnification, in the form of an Image Guarantee, for the unreleased elements within the editorial content, to fully protect you and your brand. 

4. Is it worth the time and budget to use archival images? 

Sometimes, the process of clearing unreleased elements in an editorial image for commercial use is a time-consuming and expensive process.  

archival images getty 6

Image from Getty Images  

Every clearance is case-sensitive; while some clearances can take only a few days, others can require much longer.  

But it's definitely worth your time to invest in this step! A strong image can be the one thing separating your campaign from the cutting room floor. Best of all, archival images—and creative images, too—are incredibly easy to find using Popsync image search.  

Want more tips on using archival images? Check out the full article from Getty Images here.  

getty images logo

About the Author

Megan Ranger

Megan Ranger

Copywriter at Bluescape



Try Bluescape for free

Sign up now and claim a creative space to call your own. Brainstorm, share content, and meet with others in a secure virtual workspace.