For the creation of content for advertising, magazines, TV and other media, stock photos and video are indispensable. Companies that don’t have the time or the budget to shoot their own photos or footage are very grateful for high-quality photos and video that can be quickly acquired at a reasonable price. In particular, the move from film to digital photography has moved in leaps and bounds, and the presence of stock photography in creative work has also continued to grow rapidly.
Among the many visual content agencies operating today, Getty Images, which celebrated its 20th anniversary in 2015, has become one of the largest in the industry. We were curious about why the company chose Seattle for its office. Anne Hatcher, Vice President of Human Resources and one of the people involved in the construction of the current office four years ago, explains.
“The main reason is that Seattle is an area that is very much integrated with technology,” she says. “Technology-related companies such as Microsoft, Amazon and Google are all here, so there is a great potential for attracting talented engineers. Part of our head office functions are located in New York, but basically the Seattle office is our headquarters.”
But there is a problem that also comes along with this being such an attractive place. “Talented people are coming to Seattle from all around the world,” Ms. Hatcher says. “However, there are a lot of major companies in Seattle, like the names I mentioned earlier. So for us to attract these talented people, we’re always racking our brains about how to appeal to them that Getty Images is different from other companies.”
But, in fact, Getty Images is one company that has succeeded in retaining its people. “Once a year, we bring together our management people from around the world; all of them have been with the company for more than 10 years,” Ms. Hatcher says—who herself has been with the company for more than 15 years. It’s an industry that is subject to intense changes, as, she says, “Over the 15 years, I feel like I’ve been working for three different companies!” Rather than considering changing jobs, at Getty Images many employees will instead think about what new thing they’d like to do in-house.
Exterior of the Seattle office.
Employees: 1,800 (527 in Seattle)
Anne Hatcher, Vice President, Human Resources
Ms. Hatcher says that the secret lies in management’s good communications skills. “At Getty Images, we always have the Key Initiative published for everyone, so it’s clear for the roughly 1,800 employees what they need to achieve.” The Key Initiative is displayed around the office as posters, and is sent repeatedly to employees as email. In addition, as well as having a final goal, smaller, more finely analyzed goals are also established, so that employees will have more opportunities to better understand the Key Initiative.
As one walks through the office, there are large screens with a variety of photos mounted everywhere. Not only there, but also on the office ceiling, the walls of the elevators, even on the walls in the toilets—everywhere you look there are photographs. That’s natural for a company that deals in visual content, but it’s also created to impress visitors coming from outside the company. This probably also helps strengthen the retention rate, by sharing the company values.
Because it is an office that was created with the goal of covering many different employee work styles, it also has become a cozy place for the employees. “People are working both in open and private spaces,” Ms. Hatcher says. “To put it simply, it’s how someone is feeling.” The desks are round, making it easy for other employees to just stop by for a quick visit. In addition, benches next to the desks and sofas in the corners of the office have been designed to increase casual collaboration. “To help encourage this, we don’t have more meeting rooms than are required,” she says. “It’s a great way of working when, in the normal day-to-day business, someone can just spend a little time sitting on the sofa talking with others.”
Getty Images consists of two brands: Getty Images and iStock by Getty Images. The first consists of content from the world’s best photographers and videographers, while the latter offers tens of millions of stock photos, illustrations, videos and audio tracks sourced from the crowd . However, there are many talented photographers represented in iStock, and both are very active and productive. For William Bon, involved with both brands as Senior Art Director, there is satisfaction in work at Getty Images.
“Since I was just transferred from the New York office, I’ve only really been working here for about a year,” he says. “But the Seattle office is great. I’ve seen lots of companies, and offices where employees are forced to work in narrow spaces, offices where there’s nothing much inspiring, and where the colors aren’t very nice. It’s very easy to work in this office, though.”
For Mr. Bon, whose work is in creative activities such as acquiring images from countless photographers and videographers, the Seattle office seems to be a very attractive place. He emphasizes the fact that if someone simply stands up and walks around, they will soon find a person to talk with in the office. “I know a lot of people handle everything by exchanging email, but if you ask me, face-to-face discussions are far more efficient,” he says, with the open space clearly something he especially likes.
Mr. Bon also gives high marks to the office’s location. “Because it’s located right above the station, access is very good,” he says. “Vancouver and Portland are both just two to three hours away, so it’s very convenient. There are also commercial facilities and a stadium very close by. It’s a great location for watching American football and soccer.” So it’s not only the office, but the location and its surroundings that attracts creative talent.
According to Ms. Hatcher, the issues lying ahead for Getty Images are, “the changes in what the market and consumers want, and the changing technologies to respond quickly to these.” In the stock photo industry, not only is the business model constantly changing, but many new competitors are emerging as well. As an industry leader, the company must continue to provide contents with value to clients. “Of course, one major premise is that we must protect the intellectual property rights of the creators,” she says. “On top of that, one business goal we want to continue to purse is that Getty Images’ beautiful photos and videos can be accessed through any device.” Having recently passed the milestone of 20 years since its founding, there are only growing expectations for the future of Getty Images.
Consulting (Workstyle): Blue Bootle
Interior design: Blue Bootle
Web exclusive content
Interviews at the company’s Seattle office, October 9, 2015
text: Yuki Miyamoto
photo: Kazuhiro Shiraishi
The elevator hall; people enjoy looking at the variety of photos throughout the office.
Senior Art Director, William Bon
The office walls are decorated with artwork created by the employees.