Commonly Asked Questions

What format are your photos in? Do you send out electronic copies/scans?

Most of our photos are in 10″ x 10″ paper prints. The majority are vertical black and white prints with some colour photos (post 1970) available for selected areas. The GIC cannot send out digital scans due to copyright reasons. Digital scans can instead be purchased from the Government of BC.

Do you sell any air photos?

No, the GIC only provides a one-week loan service. We do not sell any air photos.

Can I scan/copy your photos?

All aerial photographs are protected by copyright. Any reproduction in whole or in part requires permission from the copyright holder, which is generally the publisher of photos (e.g. the Government of BC) not the GIC. Service fees charged by the Geographic Information Centre do not include reproduction permission and we do not facilitate copyrights permission between our clients and the publisher. For more details: Copyright Information

Can I get a loan extension?

We do not provide loan extensions on aerial photos. Late returns will be fined $20 per site per day.

What is in your collection? How do I know if you have any photos that cover my area?

The GIC Air Photo Collection contains over 2.5 million photos that covers the entire Province of British Columbia. The majority of our photos are from the BC Provincial Government; we also have tens of thousands of photos from the Federal collection and a few private companies.

Most urban areas have very good coverage every decade from at least 1940’s to the early 2000’s. Coverage in some parts of rural Vancouver Island and Northern BC can be sparse but in general we should still be able to find a few sets throughout the decades.

If you are curious exactly which photos cover your area of interest you can perform a quick search of the BC air photo catalog using GeoBC Imagery Finder displayed in Google Earth. We have almost every photo from 1963 to 2007 from there plus more from our Federal and private collection.

We do not have any photos for Alberta, the Territories, or Washington State.

How can I look up the date of an air photo?

For BC Provincial photos (roll number starts with BC) use the Film Roll Year Correlation document. Detailed dates with month & day can be looked up from BC Film Records.
For Federal photos (roll number starts with A) use NAPL Flying Years.
Other photos especially those from private contractor companies (roll number starts with FF, SRS, etc) often have the date printed on the front of the photos along with their roll numbers. Most of our photos should also have their year stamped onto the back of the photo.

How can I determine the nominal scale of an air photo?

For BC photos newer than 1963 their scales can be looked up on GeoBC Imagery Finder using the Roll and Frame tab. For older photos their scales can be calculated using their flying height and camera focal length from the BC Film Records.

I am a student. Can I use the photos for free?

Post-secondary students may access our photo collection free of charge if the photos are only used for academic research or educational purposes however you will have to perform the search yourself. Please note that we might require proof from your academic supervisor that the photos will not be used for any commercial purposes. Please email us for more details.