The role of photo agencies and commercial visual image banks no longer remains a blind spot in the history of photography. In this fascinating and timely look into two of the largest photographic agencies, the Bettman Archive and Corbis (founded by Bill Gates) photo archive, scholar Estelle Blaschke examines the criteria used in selecting images, how their value is determined and the concept of photography behind image banks. Emerging in the beginning of the 20th century to satisfy the picture-hunger of modern man, photo agencies transformed photography into a commodity. As catalysts for the picture market and through the creation of systematic collections, these companies shaped our western visual culture. The 1920s, 1930s and 1990s, in particular, ushered a paradigm shift in the economy of the medium, marked by major technological developments and the rise of new markets. A thoughtful combination of writing and images makes this book a must have for many in the field.