For the August 2021 edition of Meet the archives I had the honour to interview Philippe Francois, chief Imagery of Belga Image in Brussels, Belgium - the largest image provider within the Benelux region.
Thank you for agreeing to answer my questions, Philippe! I start by asking you to tell the readers a little about Belga Image, please.
Belga have existed for 100 years. We produced and digitized 2.7 million pictures in news and sports, but thousands of analogue pictures are still waiting to be digitized! We are the biggest and oldest fully owned photo collection in Belgium.
How come you decided to go for the decision to have your photo collection digitized?
We're sure there are still many hidden treasures in those negatives and pictures sent by Belino*. Also, paying storage for many more years, and keeping these treasures asleep, is not an option.
How will you use the digitized archive?
We have the advantage that most of our pictures have good metadata following editorial standards of those days.
We can OCR these and complete them, eventually with AI. We will put the most valuable ones online, the others will be searchable for our subscription clients on our platform.
Does the digitised collection open up new opportunities/ideas for you?
As a national news agency we're very much focused on news, now and today. But this digitizing project shows us that our archives give us perspectives for new products and businesses.
*Photo cell transmitted via phone line, what came to be Wirephoto service. In Europe a similar process was
Thank you very much Philippe! Very interesting to hear your answers and I wish you good luck with the business.