Virtual Reality Is Turning Getty Images Into a 21st Century Brand

180,000 events will be shot with 360 cameras

CANNES, France—While Getty Images, founded in 1995 as a resource for rights to still images, was born in the age of the Internet, it's still intriguing to see the company pitch virtual reality content. The Seattle-based company claims to have a library of more than 12,000 360-degree selections for publishers, advertisers and artists to choose from.

"[It's] not just for publishers or advertisers—it's for anyone who wants to use it," explained Getty Images CMO Susan Smith Ellis. "We do custom work as well. … All of our photographers have 360 cameras. So they are shooting everything … the 180,000 events that we cover in news, sports and entertainment—all of that is shot in 360 as well. But we can also do bespoke assignments for advertisers, publishers or anyone who would want to hire us."

Some of her team's VR custom work so far includes toy brand Mattel and Google Expeditions, which is an education-focused initiative for the search giant. The company wouldn't name publisher partners for its newly created division Getty Images Virtual Reality Group. But it's not hard to imagine the likes of The New York Times and CNN—which have declared VR initiatives—utilizing the service. 

Watch Smith Ellis in the video above explain the origins of the program, why content creators could soon increasingly employ the service and how the 21st Century medium fits into the Cannes Lions scene this year.