We know what Getty Images are. At this point, every time we see a stock photo or an image of your favorite celebrity, chances are there’s that white text over a grey background with the company’s name on it.
But Getty Images, while being a giant venture by the Getty family, who grew their wealth initially thanks to oil money, isn’t just for the glitz and glamor. This company has an archive containing millions upon millions of images and film clips of different historical events from different time periods. From the first blows to the Berlin Wall to the Moon landing, and more, people can get their hands on these snippets of history for paying… a lot.
Without paying the company’s hefty access fee through their photographs, filmmaker Richard Misek has created A History of the World According to Getty Images. This work, released in 2022, is an 18-minute-long film that is a documentary about property, profit, and power. The filmmaker picked up different moments during the 20th century and did not present them in chronological order.
Misek presented them as a hodgepodge of collective memory, as how the people in the present might only remember bits and pieces of events in their heads. “The film explores how image banks including Getty gain control over, and then restrict access to, archive images—even when these images are legally in the public domain,” Misek explained on his website.
Read more about his work here.
image credit: Richard Misek