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Hollywood photo legend Bob Willoughby and the Inspiration behind Seenspire’s Vintage Feed

Hollywood photo legend Bob Willoughby and the Inspiration behind Seenspire’s Vintage Feed
Samuel Mekonen
February 18, 2020

The second you set foot in the Seenspire office in Antwerp, there’s one thing that will immediately draw your attention. Right in the entrance is a full-wall colour photograph of a crowd completely entranced and engaged in a jazz concert.

It’s a famous picture. But the story of how it came to be on our wall is also the story behind our popular Vintage Hollywood feed — and it’s one to share.

Originally in black and white, the photograph is of Jazz legend Big Jay McNeely connecting with his audience in 1953. McNeely played until last year, well over the age of 90. We loved the image so much that we asked Getty Images for the original file: we wanted to colour it, and have a large enough source image to be able to print a large format poster for our office space.

Unfortunately, Getty Images rejected our request.

Of course, we’re not quitters, so we decided to find the original rights owner. We found him in LA: Christopher Willoughby, the son of the original photographer, Hollywood legend Bob Willoughby, now responsible for his father’s estate. We contacted him directly, explaining how much we loved the picture and what we intended to do with it. He loved the idea, and granted us the rights to colour the image and print it, only for use in our office space. It’s been there ever since, welcoming our team and guests at the door.

But this isn’t the end of our story. We showed Christopher the results, which somehow led into a three-hour call, during which he showed us all the other materials of his dad Bob Willoughby. As it turned out, he was one of the most famous on-set photographers in Hollywood in the fifties and sixties. Many of the iconic on-set images of stars like Judy Garland, and of films like Rosemary’s Baby, My Fair Lady, and The Graduate, were his work.

As we dove deeper into this archive, we realised very quickly that these incredible pictures didn’t just belong in museum collections and art galleries: we wanted to offer them to Seenspire users as an exclusive feed. So jump into our Licensed content, and look for Vintage Hollywood.
Your audiences will surely enjoy these timeless, world-famous photographs on your screens.

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