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TRCH The Da Vinci Code

Press Association - Nottingham in Pictures

23 April 14 interview: Ali Emm

A slice of Nottingham history direct from the archives

How did the Press Association come to buy out EMPICS?
EMPICS started back in the mid-eighties and they focused principally on sports, spreading from being a regional agency to a national and then international agency. Though PA Images has always covered sport, EMPICS had a great depth of archive and level of expertise in sport.

You’ve got some pretty impressive archives dating back to 1863 – that’s almost back to the birth of photography. What images do you have from that time?
There’s a really interesting mix when you look back to the earliest pictures in our collection. There are some iconic pictures such as a portrait of Queen Victoria but also images of criminals, celebrities and sporting events. It is amazing to think that a photographer would have covered an event such as the FA cup final with twelve glass plates. Our photographers today might shoot 2,000 images from a football match.

Do you think people will look back at photos from present day in 150 years’ time with the same fascination that we look at old photographs now?
150 years ago photography was a fairly new. Part of the fascination of looking at old images is that there are only a few of them, which makes them more interesting. Today we all shoot pictures constantly. It will always be interesting to look back, the challenge may be finding the best images in a sea of content.

How many photos do you have in your archives? Are they all digital now?
We have around thirteen million pictures online and probably another five million offline. We’ve digitised a lot of content but there is still lots to do. One of the great things we can offer are some images that may not have been seen for decades. We have a great team of picture researchers and archive staff whose job it is to find content for projects we are working on.

How many photographers do employ?
We have 35 staff photographers based all around the UK and Ireland. We also use some freelance photographers to cover sport.

What have been the biggest moves forward in technology that are exciting for an imaging company like yourselves?
One of the reasons that PA bought EMPICS was for technology they’d developed called Shootlive that allows us to edit images remotely. The photographer takes pictures and one of our Nottingham-based editors sees every picture they take then selects and captions them ready for delivery. We use this technology for live events. We can get an image from the photographer in as little as sixty seconds. We can also offer 360 degree images; these are captured using six cameras fired simultaneously which means that we can use them for events where people move and shooting interiors of rooms.

You’re trying to build stronger local links in the creative community, how are you going about that?
As well as employing local people and Nottingham graduates in our production teams we are also keen to expand our local client base. We are also hoping to encourage photography students in the city to create exciting content that we may be able to represent for them or offer feedback on how they can deliver work that is both creative but also commercially viable.

Press Association Images website

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