A large publishing company based in the United Kingdom wanted an image of a kitten playing with a ball on a string and turned to an agency in India for help. That agency put up a request on an image portal in Canada of which I am a member.
I saw the request and remembered that I had taken some photos of a playful kitten on a mountain top in Slovenia. I uploaded one of those images, and together with a few others it was approved for final selection. My image was the one that was finally chosen, and from my computer in Sweden I could send a high-resolution version to India. From there it was delivered via internet to the UK publisher and soon ended up in a book.
Before the internet and digital processing era this procedure would have been a lot more complicated, even if it would probably not have involved as many actors. The publisher would have sent their request, probably by telephone or fax, to a stock image agency.
The agency staff would have carried out an extensive search of their huge physical archives and hopefully come up with one or more images. These would most likely have been colour slides, which would then have been delivered to the publisher via mail or messenger (in the original meaning of those words!). And without computer technology, turning the slides into printed images in a book would have been yet another complicated process. And finally the slides would have to be returned to the stock agency – undamaged.
And now the whole process is so much simpler!
As mentioned above, I took the image of the kitten on a mountain top. We had visited a television transmitter station – naturally located on a mountain for best range. We took a break at a small restaurant just outside the TV station, and I noticed that someone had strung a ball of adhesive tape from one of the tables. The little kitten was playing with it and I took some photos of it. At the time I could not imagine that one of the images would be the object of a process involving five countries in Europe, Asia and North America.