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Return of the Living Dead

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Promoting an environmental cause became the platform on which a unique marketing project was built, bringing long-gone animals back to life.


Getty Images, the online stock photography library, has amassed 496 million assets. With a vast archive like this, you would think it contains pictures of everything you could imagine. Well, you can’t have a photo of something that doesn’t exist. So no, you would not have found any pictures of extinct animals on Getty Images—until the company decided to change that.

Three extinct species that have never been captured in photographs were reconstructed based on photos of animals that are themselves currently on the brink of extinction. The ‘Living Images’ project made it possible for everyone to get to know in detail the American lion, the Rodrigues giant tortoise, and the great auk.

A dedicated website was created to offer an interactive experience to visitors, who can learn the stories of the animals, understand what happened to them throughout history, and—of course—view them in 360º. Getty Images was meticulous in showing all the stock imagery depicting today’s endangered animals that was used to reconstruct the creatures. 


The project was conducted with the help of two experts. The palaeontologist Lucas Inglez helped with the reconstruction. And Ami Vitale, award-winning wildlife and conservation photographer, was tasked with shooting the first image of an extinct animal in its natural habitat. The photographer’s expedition to California simulated what capturing a photo of the American lion might have looked like before it became extinct.


‘Living Images’ is a project created to raise awareness about sustainability, the importance of environmental responsibility, and the need for the protection of endangered animals. The collation of species that are extinct with those that are endangered implies a clear parallel. If we don’t start protecting these vulnerable animals soon, a photograph on Getty might be the only thing we’ll have left of them too.

This campaign was designed to act as a warning to people who can impact change. Nowadays, many companies take a stand to protect the environment and act sustainably. And Getty Images’ target audience is composed of advertisers, marketers, and communications professionals who are often the ones working on the actual messaging of such claims.


This project invites them to champion the change and brings inspiration to spread the idea and address environmental issues in their work. 

And what better way to do that than with the help of Getty Images’ endless imagery possibilities?

Wawa Gilewski Market Intelligence