How to Respond to Requests for Free Images

From time to time, I get requests for free images. happens a lot.

When I’m in a good mood, I write back and explain nicely why asking a photographer to give away images is like asking Toyota for a free car.

The thing is, sometimes I’m too busy to respond, or as is often the case, I receive an avalanche of requests at the same time, and I get overwhelmed.

When this happens, I end up prioritising other tasks and never get around to replying (for which I feel bad later), or worse, send back a snippy response (for which I feel really bad later).

Form letter for photographers to respond to requests for free images
Form letter for photographers to respond to requests for free images

I know that many fellow photographers face the same dilemma, because it’s a frequent topic of discussion whenever we get together, in person or online.

We lament the fact that we’re damned if we respond (it takes time to respond, and people who ask for free photos often take offence if we decline); and damned if we don’t respond (people probably think we’re rude, and most of us feel bad about not replying with a reasonable explanation).

I decided to do something about this, both for myself and as a service to my photographer friends, by drafting a standard response and posting it online: Template for photographers to respond to requests for free images.

If you’re a photographer and find yourself facing the same dilemma, please feel free use this text. I’ve posted it under a Creative Commons license (Attribution, Share Alike) for this purpose.

You can link to the web page, include a link to the URL in an email reply, copy-and-paste the text, amend it to suit your needs...whatever works for you. All I ask is that you somehow link back to/ acknowledge this URL:

Please also pass this information along to other photographers who might benefit.

I just posted the URL a few days ago, and I’ve already had a chance to use it a couple of times...with the desired result. I’ve received positive replies thanking me for the explanation, coupled with undertakings to get back to me should a budget become available.

If you’d like to add your name as a signatory (strength in numbers, etc.), please use the contact form to send your information. I’m administering the site with my friend Matthew Oldfield, and one of us will get back to you.