Every once in a while I receive an email asking to use one of my images for free. This happened earlier this week. The email was from a conservation organisation doing work to protect endangered species of animals. The request was to use one of my tree kangaroo images. I wonder, would you give your images away for free?
Here’s what happened
The email request provided me a link to the organisations website. I’m interested in issues around conservation so I took time to check out their site. They seem to be doing good work, and certainly had a very functional and well presented website.
There were 2 interesting things about this request:
- All my requests for free use of images come from animal welfare and conservation organisations. That may be because I have a lot of animal images available through image libraries. Or it may be that they have found that asking for ‘free use’ often gets a positive response, and they can save money this way. Who knows?
- They didn’t attach the image they wanted to use. Most requests do include the image they have found and want to use. I’m not sure if I’m too cynical, but this makes me suspicious. I do wonder whether this was a genuine request from an organisation doing good work, or was a copy and paste effort sent to hundreds of photographers?
So, my dilemma was what to do. Would you give your images away for free?
I have come across this situation before, and my opening stance is not to give images away for free. It’s not in my interests, and it’s not in the interests of other photographers. I have made exceptions in the past, but my opening position is that the user should be paying for images.
Here is my email response:
Thanks very much for your email. I checked out your website – congratulations on the fantastic work you are doing.
It’s good to hear you are going to feature the Goodfellows Tree Kangaroo. I follow the conservation efforts for them, particularly the work XXXXXX are doing with communities in Papua New Guinea.
In terms of images – I’m glad to hear you like one of mine. I hope you’ll understand that as a professional photographer I rely on royalties from licencing images to support my family, so I can’t provide it for free.
That said, I have many tree kangaroo images available to licence very inexpensively on iStockphoto. This link will take you there XXXXXXXXX
It should display prices in the local currency where ever you are. In Australian dollars it costs $13 for an individual image. If you need multiple images look at the one month subscription which lets you download 10 images for $40 (you can cancel after one month if you don’t have ongoing image needs).
I hope this helps.
Very best wishes for your work. I’ve signed up for the email updates and will look forward to the piece on Goodfellows Tree Kangaroos.
How would you handle this situation?
I feel like I’ve done the right thing by myself and other photographers. I also hope the organisation feel I’ve done the right thing by them – by introducing them to a cost effective way to licence images. The final piece of this story is just to add that my reply was sent 5 days ago. I haven’t had any response.
What do you think? Would you give your images away for free?