Posts Tagged ‘Hong Kong Photo Library’

Gwyn Headley

by Gwyn Headley

Managing Director

The estimable Photo Archive News tells us that Hong Kong has realised what other goodly states and countries have been ignoring over the past few years — that photographs actually have a value.

The last twenty years has been the most disruptive period in the image business since the invention of photography. The total transition from film to digital has been virtually completed, the consolidation of almost all picture libraries and stock agencies (except for fotoLibra) has taken place under the Getty hegemony, and prices for images have plummeted, benefitting only publishers — certainly not photographers, illustrators or consumers. Sales of illustrated books — an entire industry — have collapsed.

Now the Hong Kong Government has opened up its archives and decided to charge for its pictures. Is this the carrot at the end of the tunnel? Could we be seeing a reassessment of the value of images? Will people now begin to realise that pictures aren’t free by default?

They write: ‘The Hong Kong Photo Library‘s oldest record can be traced back as early as the mid-1800s. Apart from providing an official photographic record of Hong Kong’s progress and development, the Library includes a treasure trove of photos showing the many and varied facets of life in Hong Kong including our natural beauty, culture, sports and architecture.’

Members of the public can browse their website and view photo records. Hi-res digital photos can be bought for personal or educational use. A handling fee of HK$61 (£6) per photo applies. Photos purchased for commercial use are subject to an additional copyright/commercial use fee of HK$1,000 (£100) per photo.

It’s not a lot. But it’s a start.

Good for Hong Kong. As it says on the lid of my computer: “Pictures can be cheap. The right image is PRICELESS.”