LIFE Launches Its Own Photo Archive launched early last week, a joint venture between Time Inc and Getty Images. At launch the site had over seven million images available from the LIFE and Getty Images archives, with the plan to add about 3,000 new photos a day. It’s in beta, and if you hadn’t guessed yet the URL of the site is

The front page of the site has a search box and basic categories to browse but also a variety of features including notes about this day in history, a guest editor, a list of the most popular photo sets, and a set of editor’s picks.

It’s a bit chilly here this morning so to reassure myself that spring was really underway, I did a search for cherry blossoms (the festival is going on right now in Washington DC.) I got two sets of results, one for photos in general (289) and another for purchasable photos (16.) A nav on the left lets you narrow down by time, location, and ostensibly by person pictured; however if in this case you choose George Washington, you don’t get a picture of George Washington. You get a picture of the George Washington monument. (In some search results there are also links to sets of images; do a search for tropical as an example.)

Search results include a thumbnail and a brief caption; click on either and you’ll get a somewhat larger picture and a sometimes extended caption. You can rate the pictures, link to them, or share them across a variety of social networks, but I was a little surprised there wasn’t more information on the photos themselves.

You’ll note that in this result there are photos and then there are purchasable photos — when I looked at these they tended to be in black and white, were somewhat older, and had better captions. (But there’s nothing wrong with your monitor — that picture with the horse doesn’t appear to be complete.) Beyond that when I picked a picture I liked (“Sogho festival”) I found out that the “Purchase” button took me to QOOP, where I was invited to buy a framed version of said photo for $99.99. Gah.

I like the size of this archive, and I like the fact that there’s a commitment to add so many photos to it. But it feels a bit scarce on photo information. The news release for the photos mentioned that there will be more features coming soon; maybe I’ll like it better after those launch.

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