In its section “Street Scenes”, stock photo agency Vintage Stock Photos features an intriguing image of titled “Native American Group on Float”; and it’s a classic representation of old-town Americana; with what appears to be a group of “Native American Indians” on a carnival float, complete with the legend “Heap Big Medicine Man.” Whether the group are really Native American, or Caucasian folk with a little tea-tanning, it’s certainly decades, and worlds, away from the shifting identity politics of contemporary America.
Regardless of the origins, it’s a wonderful insight into an era long one; as are many other stock images in the collection, whether it be bikes chained up to railings in Amsterdam; a stunning collection of woven baskets in Greece; or mopeds circling the Arc de Triomphe in Paris.
As Vintage Stock Photos observes about its collection: “We’ve all been there. An old photo – family snapshot or thrift store discard – catches your eye and you can’t look away. The image is technically a hot mess but there’s an essential, visceral appeal about the subject – a faded person or place that unexpectedly and elegantly captures a lost moment. This happens a lot around here and we fall in love with the blurry, scratched, grainy, misfit images depicting life in the middle of the 20th century.
We started Vintage Stock Photos to sell some of these great images. People loved the images, but sales were slow and it’s hard to be a niche stock site, so we decided to give away the image collection for free.”
Yes, you read that last bit correctly. In a world where we try to monetize the last few pixels of every IP, Vintage Stock Photos seems so love in with their own material that they just want you to use it.
And who wouldn’t love this stuff? In “Vintage People” we get fascinating shots such as a group of (unintentionally scary. Yikes!) kids in “Halloween Costumes,” and Bugs Bunny has never looked more menacing. In “Vintage Cities and Towns” we can see the two towers of the World Trade Center dominate a 70s skyline. In “Landmarks and Attractions” we are awed by the sight of Devil’s Tower, Wyoming, before Steven Spielberg had his aliens land there.
It’s a wonderful, technicolor trip down memory lane.
The photos come from collections acquired by Vintage Stock Photos; who own the original transparencies for all images. Transparencies are scanned, then post processed and key worded. They archive the original scan and output a resized jpg file for distribution. They are so accommodation, that if you feel the version they’ve posted is too small or too processed, you can get in touch with them, and they may be able to rescan, resize or reprocess the image.
The images may be used in commercial projects such as websites, advertising, books, videos, and other commercial presentations. If you can give credit to the site, they certainly appreciate it, but credit is not required. You may not, however, repackage, redistribute, or claim ownership of the images.
That means you can’t resell or profit from a reprinting of our photos. This would qualify as “redistribution” and is not allowed (but they may negotiate an extended license, where appropriate).
A simple login allows you full access to download any photos on the site at no charge.
For further details, take a virtual ‘road trip’ into the surreal, the wacky and the poignant, at: