We pick our favorite images from the new Iconic Licensing collection

This week, our friends at Iconic Images launched Iconic Licensing, a new platform for individuals, businesses and other organizations looking to license images. Here’s everything you need to know about it.

The site’s centerpiece is an archive of over 2m images and contact sheets, courtesy of some of the world’s most respected photographers. These include Terry O’Neill, Norman Parkinson, Eva Sereny and Gered Mankowitz, their subjects ranging from The Beatles, The Rolling Stones and David Bowie through to Queen Elizabeth II and various other royals.

What’s particularly exciting about the new platform is that well-known images are joined by outtakes and alternative shots, many of which not previously seen by the general public. While this has the obvious benefit of giving potential licensees a greater range of material to choose from, it also provides more context for images that have already achieved their own iconic status, and helps us to understand exactly how those images came about.

We’re delighted that Iconic Images chose SmartFrame’s technology to power the display and protection of the images on the site, and we’ve been lucky enough to have already spent some time browsing the archives. So, to help celebrate the launch of the new platform, we’ve selected four images from the collection that resonate with us the most.


David Bowie

Singer David Bowie wearing a smart hat and sunglasses during the filming of The Man Who Fell To Earth in Los Angeles, 1975

Photographed by Terry O’Neill 

It’s only 1975 but it’s yet another incarnation of Bowie, without all the rockstar stage glamour and Ziggy Stardust glitter. It’s the premonition of what’s to come, the simply elegant man wearing suits and hats. Maybe because he really liked himself in this movie … So here he is, stripped down of the shock value and drag costumes, down to an ordinary guy in a suit.

And that, for me, is the best part; without any props or costumes, he still manages to dazzle you with his unique charisma. The subtle smirk, sharp eyes and almost unnoticeable perfect manicure show that you’re not dealing with just another man in a suit.

I never think of myself as a huge Bowie fan, but then I realize The Man Who Fell to Earth and The Hunger are among my favorite films. I grew up with him in the background and China Girl was one of the first music videos I ever saw. Even though I didn’t quite get it at the time, I surely admired the slightly pretentious look, the dreamy nonchalance, all the cheese.

One may think this glamor belongs in a late-night hotel bar of the early ’90s, but somehow Bowie is an exception. He always managed to stay cool and timeless – just like on this half-century-old photograph.

Patrick Krupa, Founder and Head of Product


Art Farmer and Benny Golson

American co-founders of The Jazztet, trumpeter Art Farmer and saxophonist Benny Golson visiting an urban renewal project on Chicago’s South Side.

Photographed by Ted Williams

Most images of jazz musicians from the ‘50s, ‘60s and ‘70s fall into only a handful of categories. The majority depict the stars on stage, while others show them backstage, either warming up or relaxing in their dressing rooms. So it’s always refreshing to see these musicians pictured away from these environments. 

Ted Williams, who took a number of photographs that would easily fall into the above boxes, captured this image of musicians Art Farmer and Benny Golson at an urban renewal project in Chicago. It’s unusual for many reasons; aside from the fact that it shows the pair outside of their usual performance environment, it’s not often we see their audience made up entirely of children, their expressions here ranging from indifference to joy. 

We don’t know why most of the children are arranged in a line, and whether this was set up or whether they fell into place organically. In any case, the focus is undoubtedly on what appears to be the youngest child of the group, right between the impeccably dressed Farmer and Golson, both musicians playing as though to an audience of one. Perhaps expectedly given his age, the boy appears somewhat indifferent to what’s going on, though you can just about make out the pleasure on Farmer’s face in being able to play for him.

It’s believed the image was taken at some point around 1960, a time when many Black Americans were displaced as a result of urban renewal projects and forced into high-density public housing. Outside of his music work, Williams himself covered the civil rights movement and street life in Chicago, so in a way this one image appears to fuse his main areas of focus. While we don’t know the fate of the children depicted here, it’s comforting to know that, whatever hardship they faced, at least at this moment they had the gift of music brought to them by Farmer and Golson. 

Matt Golowczynski, Copywriter


On the set of the 1979 film, Alien

Photographed by Terry O’Neill

Sigourney Weaver, first and second shots from the top left

I can’t really tell if these are candid ‘between-takes’ shots or if they were filming at the time – proof, perhaps, of Sigourney Weaver’s completely natural star quality. She was such a badass in this and just about everything she’s ever been in.

Here, she was pretty much still unknown, and just on the cusp of becoming a megastar. I think Ripley was probably the first female action hero lead too – at least among anything I can think of – which just makes these images even cooler.

I was too young to see this film when it came out in 1979, and still too young when I first saw it in the mid-to-late ’80s, one night when my folks were out, from a dodgy Betamax my Dad had taped off the television. Let’s just say I was expecting something a bit like Star Wars and I got something way darker. I was terrified and electrified. 

My mum also had the exact same ‘Sigourney’ haircut at that time – probably another reason this photo appeals so much.

Luke Vines, COO


Harrison Ford

American actor Harrison Ford photographed on the set of Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom, directed by Steven Spielberg, 1984

Photographed by Eva Sereny

I could have chosen any of the Indiana Jones images, but this is the image that comes to mind when I think about the films. They remind me of my childhood, sitting down to watch Indiana Jones and The Temple of Doom or Raiders of the Lost Ark with my father.

I’ve lost count of the number of times we watched Indy escape from impossible situations, or heard the uniquely identifiable sound of the punches landing, but the images bring back very vivid and happy memories for me.

Marzia Compassi, Head of Design


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