Digitizing a century of iconic images


Photo archive digitization and metadata


A globally recognized photojournalism magazine was sitting on a dormant archive of millions of iconic photographs dating back to the 1880s. Magazine staff realized digitizing the most iconic photos in its archive would preserve their long-term future and open up new revenue streams through commercial licensing opportunities.

Transforming the photos, slides, negatives, and photographic plates into world-class images paired with searchable, descriptive metadata required a specialized partner.


Apex Content & Media Solutions was selected to handle the project. Photos were scanned and sent through a series of workflows to create detailed technical and descriptive metadata.

A combination of image and web search, facial recognition, and human analysis was applied to each photo to determine the specific “who, what, where, when, and why” that serve as the bedrock for archival and commercial search.


The result was a set of professional, well-documented images preserved digitally and made available online for commercial licensing and general reference. The client remarked that the depth of descriptive metadata Apex was able to create and apply to each photo was exactly what it needed to ensure these iconic images were preserved, searchable, and in line with established standards for commercial licensing and monetization.

As a result of our partnership:

  • Commercial licensing generated more than 1,000% ROI, per photo
  • ‘B-roll’ photographs became a valuable revenue stream
  • Iconic photos were accessible and searchable online for both internal and external use
  • Decaying and at-risk photos were digitally preserved for future generations

Looking to digitize your photo archive? Contact the experts at Apex.

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