Dealing With Free Image Use Requests

Posted on 1/9/2018 by Jim Pickerell | Printable Version | Comments (1)

Recently, Owen Franken asked how I would deal with a request for personal blog use of an image. He receives such requests rarely. He received the following from Andrew Skladowski in Australia.
    Dear Sir, I would like to ask for Your permission to post one of your photos (see attached) on my facebook page. I will include this info:

    "A child uses undeveloped film to protect his eyes during the Sun eclipse"

    Photo: Owen Franken (Born: USA, ? )
    Country/City ?, 16 February 1980?

    If Your answer is yes... could You tell me a Country/City where this photo was taken and if possible your date of birth.

    If Your answer is no then do not worry - I understand - that`s why I`m asking first.

    Andrew "Aborygen" Skladowski, Melbourne, Australia

    My Facebook page:

Owen’s Question

I have mixed feelings about it.  The image is now on Getty, post Corbis, so not exclusive to them. So that is not an issue. I have to weigh free publicity versus having this image "shared" ie, stolen and then all over the place. Sometimes if someone wants to publish an image for free I ask them to send money to the UNRWA, the refugee agency. If they say in exchange for credit than I ask if  (1) they get a salary for the work they do, or (2) what would happen if I asked my butcher for a free chicken in exchange for a note next to the meal I serve to friends saying "this chicken from Hymie the butcher."
    (In checking his Corbis sales records Owen determined that the photo was one of a few that had never been licensed by Corbis.)

My Comments

This is tricky. The good thing is that Skladowski did ask for permission. If only we could train all bloggers to ask permission.

I understand your feelings about credit, and how your response makes you feel better. But for me a simple “No” is all that’s required.

In the rare cases where I get this kind of a request I will either say “OK with a photo credit” or “No” because I don’t have time to deal with the request. The problem with requests for free use of an image is that they use up your time to respond to such requests.

On the other hand, if we could get all those who grab images to ask permission, some photographers might not have time left to take new pictures.

In this case Skladowski does have a very interesting Facebook page seemingly focused almost entirely on pictures of people looking at eclipses – the subject of your photo.

Anyone looking for photos of people viewing eclipses, might be very likely to stumble on Skladowski’s blog. We do know that more and more people are finding the images they want to use on Facebook, Pinterest and Twitter or through Google and Bing searches rather than turning to a traditional stock agency.

If someone is willing to pay for the photos they need, and stumbles on the photo on Skladowski’s blog they could do a Google search for your name and easily find you. There is a chance you might make a sale, and that chance might be better than having the image on Getty. You would certainly make more money for the use.

For a particle solution to this problem check out the bottom of this story ( ).  If only we could get someone to build such a site.

End Result

Owen did allow Skladowski to post the photo. See ( )

Copyright © 2018 Jim Pickerell. The above article may not be copied, reproduced, excerpted or distributed in any manner without written permission from the author. All requests should be submitted to Selling Stock at 10319 Westlake Drive, Suite 162, Bethesda, MD 20817, phone 301-461-7627, e-mail: wvz@fpcubgbf.pbz

Jim Pickerell is founder of, an online newsletter that publishes daily. He is also available for personal telephone consultations on pricing and other matters related to stock photography. He occasionally acts as an expert witness on matters related to stock photography. For his current curriculum vitae go to:  


  • Tibor Bognar Posted Jan 13, 2018
    Come on, what is the worth of the "free publicity"? Nothing! If I give away for free the only product I have for sale, how am I going to pay my butcher who has no similar illusions? That is the reality!
    A while ago a prosperous-looking religious organization was looking for images for a a deluxe wall calendar and they proposed that they would pray for my soul as a form of payment.... I said I preferred cash and this was the end of the story.

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