The Information Services Department (ISD) launched on Thursday a new online photo sales system that makes it easier for members of the public to access the government’s archive of historical and topical photos.
The Government Photo Records and Sales system provides access to more than 200,000 digitized photos, some of which date back to the mid-1800s.
About 100,000 photos are digital files that have been scanned from negatives or print images produced before the advent of digital cameras. The rest comprise news photos that have been issued to the media before.
Prior to the launch of the online system, people wishing to browse or buy photos had to visit in person the photo library at North Point Government Offices.
“The online photo library will continue to grow as daily news photos issued to the media are added, and as more negatives and prints from the ISD archive are digitized,” an ISD spokesperson said.
Photos can be browsed under six categories:
(1) Spotlight: highlights of Hong Kong, including mega and international events, exhibitions and conferences.
(2) News Events: official and public events, district activities and government officials at work.
(3) Cityscape: landscape, countryside, infrastructure and architecture.
(4) Economic Development: Hong Kong’s economic, monetary and financial systems, as well as various industries.
(5) Culture and Sports: cultural, leisure and sporting events.
(6) Old Hong Kong: historic photos, many donated by individuals and organizations prior to the establishment of the ISD in 1959. The oldest records can be traced back to the mid-1800s.
People looking for specific photos can narrow their search using keywords, dates, subjects or topics under the search function.
Portal visitors can view photos at low resolution for free.
High-resolution photos of around 1,900 x 1,600 pixels are available for purchase for personal use. There will be a handling fee of HK$61 per image.
Purchasers who require photos for commercial purposes need to apply for permission and pay a HK$1,000 copyright/commercial use fee if permission is granted.
Buyers can apply for a waiver of copyright/commercial use fee if they can provide justification, for example for charity or non-profit uses.
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