Getty Images is home to many millions of images, both still and moving, among them the delights of the Hulton Archive
The numbers say it all about the Hulton Archive: it contains around 60 million images from 1,500 individual collections. And that's just the stills. Add to this around 30,000 hours of archive footage and all the latest coverage from Getty's news, sport and motion divisions and you start to grasp the sheer scale of the Getty Images Gallery.
Although there are images dating back to the beginnings of photography itself, the Hulton collection grew from the photo archive of Picture Post magazine, founded by Edward Hulton in 1937. From 1938 to 1957, Picture Post commissioned leading European photojournalists to produce 9,000 articles on a range of subjects. Each one contained around six images and so, before long, Hulton had accrued an impressive archive.
In a bid to properly catalogue everything, he eventually commissioned Charles Gibbs- Smith from the Victoria and Albert Museum (V&A) to create the world's first indexing system for pictures, a task that took three years. This system was used right up until 1988 and was even adopted by the V&A itself.
Over the years, the Hulton collection has passed through several pairs of hands, including the BBC's, and as it has grown and morphed, it has continued to embrace new archiving technology. When it was sold to Getty Images in 1996, the company developed a new website that allowed greater access to its vast collections, adding a huge compilation of moving footage to this in 2000,when Getty purchased The Image Bank (TIB).
This paved the way for the Hulton Archive, which was finally amalgamated into the agency's main site (www.gettyimages.com) in 2004, making it easier than ever before to source and purchase historical material. While there are more than 250,000 digital files available to view, this represents little more than 1 per cent of the entire collection.
Behind the scenes at the Hulton Archive, a small army of librarians, researchers and technicians continue to plough the pictorial mines for photographic gold, uncovering everything from 19th century calotypes to 20th century photographic masterpieces by the likes of Brassai and Man Ray.