filizefe's blog

Final Project Proposal

Posted in Uncategorized by filizefe on January 24, 2009


The generic images we see in magazines, news, and billboards are mainly pre-produced stock images. As the communication world had a sea change in the last two decades, Getty Images, founded in 1995, brought the fragmented stock photography business into the digital age. Offering over 70 million still images and illustrations, more than 30,000 hours of stock film footage and other digital content archive, Getty Images creates and distributes world’s broadest imagery collections, making them available in the most accessible and usable way. This system enables the user to easily search a digital content with keywords and choose among pre-defined items.

In this regard, by being the visual content provider for global networks, Getty Images is not only becoming the leading supplier of digital media content but also turning to a gatekeeper by re-constructing the alphabet of global visual language.

Statement of intent:

I intend to picture the mechanism of the global visual vocabulary that Getty Images presents.

First, I will briefly examine the distribution system of the images ( and define the target audience, which determines the system.

Then, I will focus on the search tools, database categories, and keywords in order to show the structure of the language that Getty Images builds.

Finally, I will describe the common specifications of images, which make them available to be consumed worldwide.

I will end with a discussion of possible effects of the global visual language that Getty Images leads.

Initial References

Machin, David.(2004, Oct). Building the World’s Visual Language: The Increasing Global Importance of Image Banks in Corporate Media, Visual Communication; 3: pp. 316 – 336. Retrieved January 24, 2009, from

Castells, Manuel. (2000). The Rise of the Network Society: Economy, Society and Culture. The Information Age: Economy, Society and Culture Vol. I. , 2nd Edition, Cambridge, MA; Oxford, UK: Blackwell.


2 Responses

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  1. mgm5 said, on January 25, 2009 at 3:47 pm

    Hi Filiz, because the project is to show the evoluation of the technology, you’ll want to look at what did Getty arise from. You mention stock photos but how did people get those before an online bank like Getty. Maybe look at something like Magnum – cooperative of photographers, that has been around for a long time. Also what’s the future to bring for Getty – perhaps this is the global visual language – I like the sounds of that. Interesting topic. Meg

  2. kegill said, on January 27, 2009 at 2:26 pm

    Hi Filiz:

    I think you are interested in taxonomy and findability, not Getty Images per se. The introductory paragraph is disconnected from the statement of intent.

    (1) What was the distribution system for stock photos pre-internet? How were they categorized?

    (2) How has the taxonomy changed with the advent of digital archives? For one, an image is easily located in more than one category — I don’t know how easy that was pre-digital era. We have a few photographers in MCMD alum ranks who would probably be willing to be interviewed.

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