The Life Picture Collection
About The Collection
The LIFE Picture Collection is the visual chronicle of the 20th century and one of the most important photographic archives in the United States. From 1936 to 2000, LIFE commissioned more than 10 million photographs across 120,000 stories. At its height, LIFE magazine’s incomparable images and essays reached 1 of 3 American readers. The original pictures and articles remain in Meredith’s LIFE Picture Collection, an unprecedented cultural asset with millions of untold stories and unseen images.
We work with individuals and organizations to research, license, display, and reproduce our imagery for new audiences. If you’re interested in partnering with us, please review the information on this page.
How To Search
You can view portions of our collection via the following sites:
LIFE Picture Collection on Shutterstock
Nearly one million images from the archive are available via our agent, Shutterstock. Please fill out this form to be connected with a Shutterstock editorial research specialist.
LIFE Photo Collection on Google
Search millions of images from the Picture Collection. Most were never published and are now available for the first time through the joint work of LIFE and Google.
LIFE Magazine Issues on Google Books
Every weekly issue of LIFE for its complete run from 1936-1972 is available via our partnership with Google. You can search by keyword (make sure you select “Search All Issues” under the search box), browse by year or peruse topics at the bottom of the page. Each issue has list of linked contents and a tag cloud under the contents to make finding and reading items easier. (LIFE also existed as a monthly from 1978 to 2000. You can view those issues via EBSCO.)
LIFE Records at the New-York Historical Society
Although the LIFE Picture Collection retains prints, negatives, caption files, and other materials associated with the production of LIFE Magazine, the New-York Historical Society is home to the Time Inc. Corporate Archives, which contain LIFE editors’ files, correspondence, and other print and manuscript materials. You can view finding aids and more information for that collection in the link below.
In addition to its core LIFE photographic archive, the Picture Collection has also acquired a number of photographic collections over the years, including:
This archive from the former David McGough Agency chronicles red carpet, music, and other celebrity events from the late 1970s through the early 2000s. You can view samples of the collection via our partnerships with Google Arts & Culture or Shutterstock.
About 7000 glass plate negatives of New York and the mid-Atlantic region taken by photographers Wallace Levison and George Brainerd from approximately the 1890s through 1910s. You can view samples via our agent Shutterstock.
Hugo Jaeger Photographic Archive
Color photographs of Europe primarily during the Nazi era taken by one of Adolf Hitler’s personal photographers. These images document rallies, private events of National Socialist leadership, and important photographs of ghettos and concentration camps. You can view samples via our our partnerships with Google Arts & Culture. For more on the history of the collection and its acquisition, please see this LIFE.com feature.
Assembled by a London collector and organized by subject, this archive is particularly focused on art and culture. It contains more than 600,000 pieces—prints, daguerreotypes, glass plates, and other formats—from the 1870s-1940s. You can view samples of the collection via our partnerships with Google Arts & Culture or Shutterstock.
Pix Inc. Photographic Archive
Prints from a photographic agency founded by LIFE photographer Alfred Eisenstaedt and others in the late 1930s. You can view samples of this archive via our partnership with Google Arts & Culture.
Using Our Content
LIFE is happy to work with you to research and secure licenses and permissions for our materials. Please contact us for any of the following:
Secure permissions to reproduce LIFE images or text in a book, film, display, magazine, website, or other editorial project.
Brand & Merchandise Licensing
Our team can work with you on licenses to reproduce LIFE’s iconic logo or images on a wide range of merchandise and products.
Information on borrowing our prints and materials for museum and gallery display.
We can assist with researching text and images in our vast archive. Some research fees may apply depending on the request.
Don’t see your request described above? Please explain your interest in the form below.