Getty Images API Provides Developers Free Access to Millions of Images

Getty Images has made over 50 million images available to developers free of charge, enabling access via the Getty Images Embed API. Speaking at a conference workshop at APIcon today, key staff from the image content service also told participants that a simpler version of their API is in the works, using standard parameters to access image files, rather than the bloated custom header approach of the current API design.

In a workshop titled “Imagery as a conversion multiplier in your product” (but which Getty Images Business Development Director Brian Van Dyk said should be called “How you get pictures in your stuff”), Program Manager Matt Dahlgren and Software Engineers Niko Kirov and James Speaker walked the developer audience through the capabilities of Getty Images APIs and shared tips on how to reuse content from the stock image provider for free.


“Getting started with our API is easy,” says Dahlgren. “The Sandbox (Connect) API key gives access to 9 million images and videos, at 600 pixel resolution. You authenticate through OAuth and then search provides you with metadata about the images and the URL for the image, so it’s pretty simple to use.”

Getty Images is considered the largest stock photo supplier in the world, with their credits listed on the picture captions of countless web and print media providers. Up until March this year, content providers using images from their 150 million-plus image directory paid a fee for reuse, but as of March, access to around 50 million images via API became free.

“We can only play whack-a-mole so many times before it sucks up time,” Dahlgren said, referring to Getty Images’ legal IP process of scanning the internet for unpiad reproductions of their content and fining sites for the use. “This is the first time someone the size of Getty Images has made images available for free. Developers can access the images using our Sandbox (Connect) and API Embed keys, and can use the images but not for anything commercial.”

Senior Software Engineer James Speaker demonstrated an app built using the Getty Images Embed API. He has created ‘Bizarro Finder’ that displays all Getty Image files that are royalty-free, which include the keyword tag ‘bizarre’. The application source code has been made available on Github so that other developers can replicate the simple web-based app.

Currently, for both the sandbox (Test) and Embed API accounts, the API is at version two, which uses a custom header and tehir own custom body, confirmed Niko Kirov, Senior Software Engineer. The team are currently working on version three - which is expected in the next six months — that greatly simplifies the API structure to conform with current best practices, including query parameters.

The Getty Images team invited developers to provide feedback on the upcoming version 3. Developers can contact the API team via the Getty Images developer portal to gain access. “We would love people to hit the version 3,” says Dahlgren. “we would love feedback on what metadata you want access to, and which endpoints you would like to hit.”

“We’re also interested in hearing feedback on a RESTful implementation, for example, should a particular usage be a GET or a PUT.”

Getty Images’ APIs are managed on the Mashery Platform.

Be sure to read the next APIcon article: Concur Encourages Developer Involvement, Touts $1.2 Trillion Annual Opportunity