Skip to content

Getty Images Creative Research Paper

Have you ever wondered where technology is going? Or looked on in amazement at your kids playing with some new app, gadget or gizmo. Not just playing with this stuff as it’s supposed to be used, but tweaking it, ‘gaming’ it, taking it somewhere different.

In 2015 Getty Images will be celebrating 20 years as a company that for two decades has been at the pivot point of technology and creativity, that has pioneered and witnessed extraordinary leaps in technology and media. These technological jumps have radically changed communications, businesses and the creative industries. But most of all, it has changed our expectations of that thing which helps us understand ourselves and others, that thing we call ‘creativity.’

New tools and platforms, blogs, smartphones and social networks have generated previously unimagined possibilities for how we express ourselves. And yet, as our Creative Research team and our Art Directors looked ahead to some of themes and visual directions for the coming year, we discovered that often the future is a strange hybrid of familiar things used in unfamiliar ways.

Download the free book on iBooks



In Merging Mediums Amy Lehfeldt and Bill Bon highlight how image-makers are looking to very traditional art forms such as collage, playing with the surface and material of the image, while Lauren Catten’s look at the return of film as a material to work with is not just about its dynamic range and better color, it’s about re-thinking the experience of making.

And as Pam Grossman notes in Genderblend, societies are re-thinking previously fixed ideas of what it is to be male and female, and consequently we’re picking up signs of a shift in how men, women, parenthood, domestic and professional lives are being portrayed. This is a fascinating development, where imagery sits right at the heart of social debates and directions, when a photograph connects with someone because it feels true.

I also wanted to highlight that the imagery seen in this book is part of Getty Images Prestige. This is a curated collection of our most impactful and emotionally engaging creative imagery, often the result of the unique relationships that exist between our most talented photographers and our inhouse Creative team. Prestige not only contains inspirational and unique photography, but is driven by trend research, meaning the imagery has the power to influence the changing visual representation of familiar subjects. We’re excited by Prestige and hope you are too.

Andy Saunders
SVP Creative Content, Getty Images

If you missed the full 2015 visual trends briefing webcast you can catch up on it here

When it comes to copyright, context is everything. We want you to be able to tell your story with images, and we can help you do it in a way that benefits both you and the creators of any works that you use. Whether you are a small business owner, a blogger, a teacher, professor, student or nonprofit, we can guide you to the best creative work for your situation.




Getty Images offers support for bloggers who may have limited funds for image licenses.

Bloggers and noncommercial users

We support all types of bloggers, and we offer a variety of digital images to connect and engage with your audience.

Embed’s creative possibilities

With our new Embed feature, bloggers — even those who draw revenue from ads — can freely access more than 50 million award-winning images to make an even greater digital impact. Now you can share and embed our images to expand your social presence, attract more followers and engage your audience like never before. Drawing from our latest news, sports, celebrity, music and fashion coverage, plus an immense digital photo archive, we offer rich conceptual images to bring your passions, ideas and stories to life.

So long as your use of our imagery is not intended to sell a product, raise money or promote or endorse something, you can use our images in an easy and legal way. Individuals or businesses which use images on a blog for commercial gain require a license — even if it’s on Facebook. To find out more about different types of licenses which are available for commercial use, check out our tips on finding images and our image licensing checklist.

Start using Embed or view our Embed FAQs.

Citing sources for non-Embed images

Some bloggers may not need to find images, because publicists or promoters send images to you. But these images aren’t always free to use. Copyright is automatically granted to the creator of any image, so it’s always best to cite the source to avoid potential legal disputes. Free images typically don’t come with any formof legal protection, so if a claim arises, you will be responsible. If a PR or marketing company licenses an image for third-party distribution, you will still need to credit the source to eliminate confusion.

With Embed, we make it free and legal to use any image, so there are no hassles or headaches to worry about. Embedding ensures all photographers receive credit for their work with a link back to our site, where the image can be licensed for commercial use.



Small Business

If you run a small business, you may find copyright to be confusing and even limiting, since you may not have the legal resources to answer questions. With this advice on how to find and license images, you may be surprised by how many options you have.

Pitfalls to avoid

In general, no business is too small to be exempt from copyright law. Anytime you want to use an image, you will need to obtain the correct usage rights, keep good records of any licenses that you purchase and renew the licenses when they expire. Since you are a commercial entity, this advice applies to both your website and to your social media presence, including blogs or social media platform pages, such as Facebook, Pinterest, LinkedIn or any other similar platform.

If you see an image you would like to use and you aren’t sure where it comes from, you can run the image through a tool like PicScout Search to get licensing information about its owner.

Once you have the information you need, contact the image creator directly and negotiate a licensing agreement. For your own legal protection, make sure that any license you obtain has the necessary model and property releases if the images include people or items that are not public property. If you aren’t able to track down the origin of the image or can’t contact the image creator, it is best to choose an alternative.

Working with freelancers and templates

As a small business owner, you may decide to hand off design tasks to a freelancer or rely on templates. However, it’s still your responsibility to ensure that all the images have been correctly licensed, no matter who created your website or collateral. You should keep records of any images purchased on your behalf so you know the scope and expiration dates of each license. You will be liable for copyright infringement if no valid licenses exist.

Whether you are relying on us or not, ask any third-party designer the following questions to make sure you’re covered:

  • Do you have the permission to license the copyrighted content?
  • Do you have model and property releases for all of your imagery?
  • Do you offer additional legal protection should a dispute arise?
  • Does your company have an inspection process for identifying potentially risky properties, trademarks, etc? Can you please describe the process?

 If your business is a nonprofit

When it comes to supporting nonprofits, we go out of our way to help communicate your value to society. That’s why we offer millions of free images to meet your communication needs. No matter what your creative project requires — even high-resolution images — we’ll provide a significant discount to help you manage your budget. Simply contact us at and we’ll be happy to work with you.

More information about copyright and small businesses



Educators and Students

Through the use of images, you can illustrate a concept, prove a point or inspire others to make their own works. Copyright law allows for creative expression in the classroom, and understanding that law can make it easier to share your ideas.

Fair use and the four factors

According to Section 107 of United States copyright law, teachers and students can use copyrighted works without fear of infringement provided the works are used for any of the following purposes: “criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching (including multiple copies for classroom use), scholarship or research.”

Of course, there are boundaries to fair use. For example, a professor can use a still from a movie in a classroom but cannot publish that image in a book that may make a profit for her or for her publisher. If you aren’t sure about using an image in the classroom, Section 107 of the US copyright law offers a set of guidelines known as the “four factors.” Before using an image in the classroom, consider the following, according to US copyright law:

  1. The purpose and character of the use, including whether such use is of a commercial nature or is for nonprofit educational purposes;
  2. The nature of the copyrighted work;
  3. The amount and substantiality of the portion used in relation to the copyrighted work as a whole; and
  4. The effect of the use upon the potential market for or value of the copyrighted work.

Also keep in mind that, even if an image is used by somebody relying on the fair use limitation, it does not mean that any further use in another way by another person would also be regarded as fair use. Therefore, no matter where you discover an image (for example, a free-to-access site such as a search engine, a newspaper site or a password-protected site), the image will still be protected by copyright. Any reuse of that image will require permission or the purchasing of a license unless the proposed use falls within one of the few existing limitations for fair use.

In some countries outside the US, the limitation for fair use does not apply, although there may be similar, usually narrower, limitations.

Proper citation methods

Whenever you use an image in the classroom or in a paper, it is best to cite the source of the image so that the creator receives credit for his or her work. If you can track down the source of the image, ask the source how the image should be cited. If you cannot find the source, follow proper citation methods for academic research.

Librarians as a resource

When it comes to copyright, librarians are your secret weapons. They must stay current with all aspects of copyright as part of their job, especially as the Web transforms how content is made and shared. If you aren’t sure you can use a creative work in your classroom or in a paper, stop by your school or local library and schedule an appointment.

More information about copyright in the classroom

Common Sense Media

Copyright Alliance

Copyright Alliance Education Foundation

Teaching Copyright

“A Fair(y) Use Tale“