Reasons Why Professional Photographers Cannot Work for Free

Dear potential photo buyer,

If you have been directed to this page, it is likely that you have requested the use of an image or images for free or minimal compensation.

As professional photographers, we receive requests for free images on a regular basis. In a perfect world, each of us would love to be able to respond in a positive manner and assist, especially with projects or efforts related to areas such as education, social issues, and conservation of natural resources. It is fair to say that in many cases, we wish we had the time and resources to do more to assist than just send photographs.

Unfortunately, such are the practicalities of life that we are often unable to respond, or that when we do, our replies are brief and do not convey an adequate sense of the reasons underlying our response.

Circumstances vary for each situation, but we have found that there are a number of recurring themes, which we have set out below with the objective of communicating more clearly with you, and hopefully avoiding misunderstandings or unintentionally engendering ill will.

Please take the following points in the constructive manner in which they are intended. We certainly hope that after you have had a chance to read this, we will be able to talk again and establish a mutually beneficial working relationship.

Photographs Are Our Livelihood
Creating compelling images is the way we make our living. If we give away our images for free, or spend too much time responding to requests for free images, we cannot make a living.

We Do Support Worthy Causes With Images
Most of us do contribute photographs, sometimes more, to support certain causes. In many cases, we may have participated directly in projects that we support with images, or we may have a pre-existing personal relationship with key people involved with the efforts concerned. In other words, each of us can and does provide images without compensation on a selective basis.

We Have Time Constraints
Making a leap from such selective support to responding positively to every request we get for free photographs, however, is impractical, if for no other reason than the substantial amount of time required to respond to requests, exchange correspondence, prepare and send files, and then follow-up to find out how our images were used and what objectives, if any, were achieved. It takes a lot of time to respond to requests, and time is always in short supply.

Pleas of “We Have No Money” Are Often Difficult to Fathom
The primary rationale provided in nearly all requests for free photographs is budgetary constraint, meaning that the requestor pleads a lack of funds.

Such requests frequently originate from organisations with a lot of cash on hand, whether they be publicly listed companies, government or quasi-government agencies, or even NGOs. Often, it is a simple matter of taking a look at a public filing or other similar disclosure document to see that the entity concerned has access to significant funding, certainly more than enough to pay photographers a reasonable fee should they choose to do so.

To make matters worse, it is apparent that all too often, of all the parties involved in a project or particular effort, photographers are the only ones being asked to work for free. Everyone else gets paid.

Given considerations like this, you can perhaps understand why we frequently feel slighted when we are told that: “We have no money.” Such claims can come across as a cynical ploy intended to take advantage of gullible individuals.

We Have Real Budget Constraints
With some exceptions, photography is not a highly remunerative profession. We have chosen this path in large part due to the passion we have for visual communication, visual art, and the subject matters in which we specialise.

The substantial increase in photographs available via the internet in recent years, coupled with reduced budgets of many photo buyers, means that our already meager incomes have come under additional strain.

Moreover, being a professional photographer involves significant monetary investment.

Our profession is by nature equipment-intensive. We need to buy cameras, lenses, computers, software, storage devices, and more on a regular basis. Things break and need to be repaired. We need back-ups of all our data, as one ill-placed cup of coffee could literally erase years of work. For all of us, investment in essential hardware and software entails thousands of dollars a year, as we need to stay current with new technology and best practices.

In addition, travel is a big part of many of our businesses. We must spend a lot of money on transportation, lodging and other travel-related costs.

And of course, perhaps most importantly, there is a substantial sum associated with the time and experience we have invested to become proficient at what we do, as well as the personal risks we often take. Taking snapshots may only involve pressing the camera shutter release, but creating images requires skill, experience and judgement.

So the bottom line is that although we certainly understand and can sympathise with budget constraints, from a practical point of view, we simply cannot afford to subsidise everyone who asks.

Getting “Credit” Doesn’t Mean Much
Part and parcel with requests for free images premised on budgetary constraints is often the promise of providing “credit” and “exposure”, in the form or a watermark, link, or perhaps even a specific mention, as a form of compensation in lieu of commercial remuneration.

There are two major problems with this.

First, getting credit isn’t compensation. We did, after all, create the images concerned, so credit is automatic. It is not something that we hope a third party will be kind enough to grant us.

Second, credit doesn’t pay bills. As we hopefully made clear above, we work hard to make the money required to reinvest in our photographic equipment and to cover related business expenses. On top of that, we need to make enough to pay for basic necessities like food, housing, transportation, etc.

In short, receiving credit for an image we created is a given, not compensation, and credit is not a substitute for payment.

“You Are The Only Photographer Being Unreasonable”
When we do have time to engage in correspondence with people and entities who request free photos, the dialogue sometimes degenerates into an agitated statement directed toward us, asserting in essence that all other photographers the person or entity has contacted are more than delighted to provide photos for free, and that somehow, we are “the only photographer being unreasonable”.

We know that is not true.

We also know that no reasonable and competent photographer would agree to unreasonable conditions. We do allow for the fact that some inexperienced photographers or people who happen to own cameras may indeed agree to work for free, but as the folk wisdom goes: “You get what you pay for.”

Please Follow-Up
One other experience we have in common is that when we do provide photographs for free, we often do not receive updates, feedback or any other form of follow-up letting us know how the event or project unfolded, what goals (if any) were achieved, and what good (if any) our photos did.

All too often, we don’t even get responses to emails we send to follow-up, until, of course, the next time that someone wants free photographs.

In instances where we do agree to work for free, please have the courtesy to follow-up and let us know how things went. A little consideration will go a long way in making us feel more inclined to take time to provide additional images in the future.

Wrap Up
We hope that the above points help elucidate why the relevant photographer listed below has sent you to this link. All of us are dedicated professionals, and we would be happy to work with you to move forward in a mutually beneficial manner.

Creative Commons License
Note to photographers: You can use the above text under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License. Please ensure that you include a link to this page. If you’d like to add your name to the list below, please use the contact form. Text by Tony Wu.

Tony Wu
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971 responses to “Reasons Why Professional Photographers Cannot Work for Free

  1. Karan Kauchhur

    I agree !

    • May I borrow this as a template too? I have spoken to so many photographers that are desperate for attention that they are ready to give their work away in the slim chance that it will elevate them, when in reality it only perpetuates the problem. Great article, thank you.

    • Don Brown

      I Certainly Agree… I have had clients that would actually try to change invoicing to lower the price and make an excuse they wasn’t going to use the images for their marketing material and then later finding that they did use the images. Which puts a bad taste in your opinion of them.
      Now I refuse to provide any images without being paid and I collect a deposit prior to doing the work. It only takes one bad apple to to spoil everything.

    • Tamela Wooden

      You have done a great job with this. Please add me to the list.

    • Sam

      I totally agree. Equipment is not free, so, why work for free? Services rendered by photographers should be paid for.

    • This is so true. The time and effort put into my craft, to then be asked for a freebie is beyond ridiculous.

    • This is fantastic! Please add my name to the list as well.



    • Actually, many mentally challenged folks in town work very useful and productive jobs and are rewarded with both financial compensation as well as pride and satisfaction of doing a good job and being contributing members of society. It’s generally not a good idea to try and draw parallels between mentally challenged people and the actions taken by otherwise fully-competent folks that you feel are ill-advised – the wiser person in those comparisons is almost always the ‘mentally challenged’ person.

      • NJ Cher

        I don’t think the writer was referring to the “mentally challenged” as a group, as your response reflects.

        I’m not the writer, but the way I read it was that if you work for free in America, you are not too bright, or the person is dense, stupid, whatever you want to call it. This particular writer called it being “mentally challenged.”

  3. A very reasoned response, and very useful.

    I do find it ironic that getting ‘credit’ doesn’t mean much, but you accept creative commons attribution in lieu of payment for use of this template 😉

    • Tony Wu

      Nice! I suppose the main difference is that I undertook this with the specific intent of helping others. Plus, there are no photos involved!

    • Todd

      Really???? I mean really? You sir, are an instigator. You sir, are why so many do not speak up. No one asked this person to write this article for free. What you suggest is that I cannot ask for monetary compensation unless I NEVER go out of my way – even to speak out for a cause I believe in. I do not know who you are, but if ever I see your name again, I will KNOW to be on guard since you will absolutely pick apart anything I might say or do, and you will do it publicly even if I’m trying to help people who are simply asking for compensation for work they are solicited for. Wow. After reading this, i was grateful. Grateful that, through this article, I might be able to articulate better the need to PAY MY BILLS by working and earning money. But thanks to you, I see why people become callous and grumpy and burnt out. This article is trying to bridge a gap in communication between those who might not understand our position as professionals and those of us who don’t want to be made to feel guilty or self-rightous for NEEDING MONEY OURSELVES! Then you try to undermind it by suggesting that the author is a hypocrite for not demanding compensation for every ounce of his time, personally. Exactly how much should he charge us?????????????? I HAVE THE RIGHT TO WORK FOR FREE IF I WANT TO! I HAVE THAT RIGHT! I ALSO HAVE THE RIGHT TO DEMAND PAYMENT, AND IT IS NOT UP TO ANYONE ELSE TO PASS JUDGEMENT ON THAT! How much pro bono should we do??? Do you go to a furniture store and say “Can I have that couch for free? I don’t have any money, but I’ll be sure to tell everybody who sees this couch that you made it. I mean, I really need a new couch and I really love yours. You do such nice work. ” I’m so angry that you would choose to bring any negativity whatsoever to something that means sooo much to sooo many. I have children, a house payment, studio space, equipment, NO HEALTH INSURANCE, and I get “please work for free” request EVERY DAY. After a while you start to feel like an asshole and — I’ve done nothing wrong!!!! People turn their noses up and act as though I think I’m too good for them. Why? Because I can’t pay my bills even though I have invested my life into a viable, skilled career to include a college education, years of unpaid training and internships and a ton of stress and strain. Not to mention how much money and time and energy I’ve invested in equipment alone so that I feel comfortable calling myself a professional. “Professional” means I guarantee that I guarantee I can do what I say I do. How dare you pick such a ridiculous point to bring attention to! I’ll bet you’re going to find a spelling error in my statement so that you can argue with me and have the last word. Or maybe you’ll just dismiss my entire post because you didn’t say we should work for free you were just saying……blah blah
      My point, sir, is that you had to make a statement to bring negativity….well it did. And you are responsible. Congratulations. How about making another one in response and saying that I’m crazy and taking it too far instead of acknowledging that what you say DOES MATTER-and it accomplished just what you wanted it to. It called attention to the point of the article you found most interesting. I now know what kind of person you are. You have told me what you find interesting. Congrats for what it’s worth. I’ll make sure I give you credit.

      • Tony Wu

        Hi Todd,

        I’m pretty sure he was joking, with no harm intended



      • Todd I would like to exploit you, your bank account, your pride, self-worth and loved ones – please send me a big cheque. thanks

      • Sorry Todd But your out of order here… People who offer up services for Free Hurt the industry as a whole and make it more difficult for us the working professionals to make money. Unlike you guy’s we do this as a primary way to make a living, we don’t have part time jobs to supplement our income, unlike the average amateur who will work 9-5.
        We have Professional Equipment to invest in, also to update softwares and hardwares, Employ people for tax purposes and have Public liability insurance to pay, all the fundamentals that you guy’s don’t have to ….

  4. Excellent, where/how do I sign up?!

  5. I too am not a photographer but this does go hand-in-hand with most creative fields. Things like programming, webdesign, pixel art, and so on definately fall under the same general rules listed above. Time and effort were put into all of these works and giving it for free just isn’t a practical way to continue creating things as a profession.

  6. Bravo. As a graphic designer I can say that we are often in the same boat with our creative cohorts behind the lens in matters such as these. The above applies as much to design spec work as it does to photography. I may direct the occasional client to this post with the instructions to substitute “designer” for “photographer” while reading. Good stuff!

    • Tony Wu

      I’m sure you run into similar issues. By all means, please feel free to adapt and use the text as appropriate. Hope this helps!

    • Be it design work, photographs, software, music, movies, ebooks, or any such digital output, it seems that the ease of copying the bits translates subconsciously in people’s minds to ignoring the enormous amount of work that goes into the creation process. Because it is so easy, cheap and quick to make one additional copy, the subconscious tells us it is not wrong to copy. Perhaps there is an understanding of the effort involved in making the original work, so is it that the extra copy costs almost nothing to make that leads to the request for it to be free-of-charge.

  7. Mike

    Well said. I fully agree. Thank you for writing it.

    I want to be a signatory.

  8. 100% agree, although I am only a photographer by hobby and not a pro, It really annoyed me that certain people (steal) photos, for their own use. Its the guy who takes the time to produce these images that should be rewarded for their efforts.

  9. I am not a professional photographer, but as a professional musician I often get treated similarly. May I borrow the format and prepare a similar text for Singers/Musicians and distribute amongst colleagues in hopes to start a movement of sorts?

  10. smallprince

    100% agree, although I am photographer by hobby and not a pro, It really annoyed me that certain people (steal) photos, for their own use

  11. Hi Tony, I’m a professional photog and national president of American Photographic Artists (APA). Thank you for sharing this and making it accessible to others! One area you don’t mention that is imperative to our livelihood is how a professional Photographers business is built on the licensing model. We license our images for periods of time. Without that we would not be in business. Also, at least on my iPhone it’s a bit long. Keep in mind the buyers who we want to read this are extremely short on time. Hope my feedback helps and thanks again! Cheers, Theresa

    • Tony Wu

      Hi Theresa,

      Thanks for taking time to provide feedback! You’re right on both accounts. I had to cut quite a bit out during the editing process, until I got down to the current form, which I thought struck a balance between length and content. There’s certainly a lot more that could, and perhaps should, be said, but as you rightly point out, buyers are often short on time. I had shorter drafts as well, but then I felt like I was leaving too much out. My compromise was to post the text under a CC license, so that everyone could feel free to copy, paste and amend as appropriate.

      At the end of the day, I’ll be very happy if as many photographers and creative people as possible use this as a template to send back polite, constructive responses that convey our position clearly. And hopefully, there were be some positive outcomes as a result.



  12. Bas

    This is a conversation that I have with people who are photographers and non-photographers ALL the time. It is a bit insulting to be asked to work for free or little to nothing.

    • Urbanite

      I totally agree. Whenever anyone asks me to take photos at their event for free all I hear is “You seem worthless and I think your profession is a joke, because I see people use point-and-shoot cameras all the time.” insulting indeed!

  13. Tony,
    This is great. While more and more of us have seen our earnings diminish in the photography field (particulary in stock photography), I get asked all the time for freebies. This clearly explains in simple language that although we may support some causes without remuneration, that is our choice and not to be expected. Well done. Please sign me up.

    Marli Wakeling

  14. Dead on Tony. I get touched quite often by charities big and small and I selectively support a few. What galls me more are businesses that ask for elaborate work or time consuming projects of great detail only to balk at the cost! I’ll definitely use this piece to help in my ongoing education efforts! Well done.

  15. Excellent, thank you,

  16. Wonderful, wonderful thanks for putting this into words!

  17. Great text Tony! This text is a great tool. I agree with previous post above: since we are n the subject, it might be helpful to add a bit on wonership, copyright and licensing. Perhaps there could be a separate text on that subject, and other “FAQ” we as photographers are faced with explaining: a “photograhers standard answers to FAQ toolkit”.

  18. good points…now we have Fashion Week asking me to pay them to take pics when they are (or should be ) aware of the quality, expertise, and insight in the work…high class indeed…not amusing…

  19. I am not stupid – I will never work for nothing !

  20. You have eloquently captured the thoughts of all of us professional shooters. Well said!

  21. Thanks for your efforts, Tony. As a designer and builder of custom underwater housings for cameras and other scientific instruments, I also receive the same requests. Thanks for providing a well-reasoned and articulated response.

    Ken Sexton

  22. thank you for this well written response to the question I must answer on average at least once per week …

  23. Claudia

    Bravo! Well said. I am always astounded that anyone would have the audacity to ask someone to work for free in this country and in this day and age. Negotiate – sure, but not to $0.00! Thank you.

  24. Please add my name, John Tucker, to the list. I have requests weekly for free images. People don’t realize that I can’t feed my family on a photo credit!

  25. Hi!I’m a young professional freelance photographer.My name is Patrizia. Can I translate this interesting post in Italian? Of course, I will put the direct link to this website.

    Thank you,

    • Hi Patrizia,

      Of course, please go ahead. And if you translate it and send me a copy, I’ll create another page with the Italian version so other people in Italy can benefit too!



  26. Sue

    One area that you did not touch on is the numerous requests to donate art/photos etc. for auctions to benefits museums and or causes. I never see that solicitation going out to lawyers, doctors OR plumbers to donate their time/expertise. But somehow they expect that artists to “give willingly!”

    • Sue, what you say is not true. Lawyers do pro bono work. Doctors often join NGO’s in providing services for free. Even plumbers do sometimes carry out jobs for… well pay in kind is enough I guess. haha but yea, the plumber aside, alot of professionals do donate their expertise for free for the benefit of their interest (society, etc.) As Tony already said, you may still choose to do pro bono work, but it must be on your own terms and not “to be expected of.”

  27. Thank you for saying this – and in such a clear, reasonable, diplomatic way. All the best!

  28. Amen! A well structured and thought out letter, hitting home on many aspects of the photographers livelihood. Can especially relate to the “We Have No Money” paragraph.

  29. Well-written, and very much needed. Thank you for taking the time to do this.

    I haven’t been in photography very long comparatively-speaking, but have been doing graphic design and photo restoration since 1997 – in addition to free requests, something I have run into many times, is giving a quote, and having them try to haggle the price, negotiate or flat out tell me THEY think it’s too much. I want to ask these people if they go to their grocery store to buy a rotisserie chicken that’s marked $4.99, and tell the cashier, “I see it says here $4.99, but I only want to pay $2.50.”? Uuuummmm, no. Go git your chicken elsewhere, lady. A product is a product.

    Sorry for the rant. Thanks again!

  30. Please add me to the list! And thank you for your efforts Tony.

  31. Well written, please add my signatory.

  32. Please add me to the list if signatories. Thank you for sharing this!

  33. Jennifer

    Thank you for taking the time to write out what all of us would like to have the time to do. Very well written! Please add me as a signatory.

  34. Thank you Tony! Now all I have to do is copy and paste this link in an email to these customers, this will speed up my email workflow ten-fold!
    Sign me up!
    Paul Briscoe

  35. I had to quit being a professional photographer because of situations like these.

  36. Especially in my country Uganda, the copyright law is non existent to the extent that somebody can download a photo from a blog and use it for their website or publication. Publishers feel like they are doing a favor to credit your picture. Its a total jungle here.

  37. Same problem in France ! It is a globalisation.

  38. Thank you. As a creative, I am often asked to do work for free, or promise of payment once the client starts making money. I do a serious amount of pro bono work, but I also have bills to pay. I will be linking to this on my journal.

  39. It is often the case that picture editors or those granting accreditation to a sports event will expect images for free this is due to many reasons but it part because there is always someone who is; maybe just starting out who wants something in print, or is promised work in the future, or just takes photos on the weekend, either way by offering images for free they are making life harder for everyone in the business.

  40. Thank you so much! I’ll gladly add my name to this document.

  41. It’s the assumption that because it’s digital and that there are no development costs, that somehow its free. My Education wasn’t free, my equipment wasn’t free, my time isn’t free and my rent isn’t free.

  42. Great letter!! It hits the nail right on the head.

  43. Great article. I would like to add my name to this list.

  44. Thank-you Tony for a very eloquently written piece! I’ll gladly add my signature.

  45. I agree totally, I must get three or four requests weekly and it drives me nuts. I have received several requests from journalists and when I have asked them if they are working for free they have been suprised at my attitude. I di’nt study for 9 years and spend thousands on equipment to work for free. Photography students should take the above points on board. They are undermining their future as photographers everytime they provide images for a credit in a publication. I hope the prospect of working for free excites them.

  46. Thanks for this letter. Nice to know other photographers feel the same way.
    In addition to the ‘Please Follow Up’ section, I have found that the only time I have had images misused (maybe I’m lucky in this), have been with clients using donated images. We photographers should bare in mind that if we are approached by parties that have “no budget” for photos, it’s often a red flag that their project has little value in art and design. So, I try and do the best I can to sift through requests from parties that truly have no budget from those that don’t value photography. Today, this is generally restricted to parties and organizations that I personally know or have worked with. And overall, I donate MUCH less than I used to because of all the misuse by ungrateful clients.

  47. A true assessment of the dire situation that daily occurs…..well done for writing this so diplomatically.
    Thank you.

  48. Excellent article. I totally concur!

  49. Excellent! Perfectly succinct- I’ve heard most of these already in my short career. Please add my name to the list. Thanks!

  50. eyejewels

    I recently did a shoot for a client who I happily licensed to use my work on the web. At that particular event 5 other people asked if they could use my photographs, one of which were a newspaper, another a magazine, another was the event organiser and two were bloggers. Because it was a non exclusive license I emailed the 5 the next day to say that it would be possible for them to use images on payment of the appropriate fees. This was met with resounding silence except for the event organisers who thought they shouldn’t have to pay as they held the event. They have since linked through FaceBook to the original client’s website. This is something that is happening with increasing frequency and there is nothing I can do about it. However eloquent the arguments for paying photographers are, the sand of righteousness is still going to slip from under our feet in various devious ways untill we are flat on our faces with a begging bowl.

  51. Agree 100%. It’s getting harder and harder to make a living as a Professional Photographer.

  52. Please add my name & link as a signature. Thanks for putting this together!

  53. Perfect. It says everything that needs (and needed) to be said. Please add my name to the list.

  54. Thank you so much for this article!

  55. Couldn’t have said it better!! Please add me to singatory.

  56. Excellent article – the request for free images is endless.

    Ron Niebrugge

  57. Well said & elegantly put – add my name to the list!

  58. Terry

    I am not a professional photographer but I support this notice. I’m fortunate to be part of a company with an outstanding product that’s not so easy to come by. It’s not unusual for photographers to offer their services free of charge or product exchange for their service. On nearly every occasion we’ve declined, insisting we pay for their services.

    It costs us a lot of money, time and decades of experience to come to the great product we offer. Redundant though because time and experience are also monetarily valuable. The same goes for a skilled professional photographer.

    I appreciate you giving us the opportunity here to share our thoughts on the matter and show support for your photography business.

  59. Very polite and diplomatic answer to a difficult situation for many professional photographers. This applies to not only for “freebies” but also to ‘friends and family’ who feel entitled to substantial discount on their photography packages. Well said! Please add me to the list.

  60. Delan Robbins

    I agree

  61. A long career and I have heard most all the reasons I believe.Please add my name to the list. Thanks JW

  62. Because T-Mobile and VISA don’t accept photo credits. -SIGNED-

  63. Thank you for this, even though we may be shouting into a strong wind here. I’ll gladly sign on to this – Daniel Colegrove Photography

  64. Absolutely perfect article.. bookmarked immediately, please add me to the list. Another problem I regularly face is companies distributing my images to interested 3rd parties for their own use without my authorisation when the license clearly mentions otherwise.

  65. Absolutely perfect words!
    We should also remember that this practice ( asking for free photos ) is global.

  66. Absolutely perfect words!
    We should also remember that this practice ( asking for free photos ) is global.

  67. This is fantastic. Thank you for putting this down on paper – In a much more eloquent way than I have been able to.

  68. Love the article and couldn’t agree more! Sign my in.

  69. Well said, thanks for sharing. Now we need a similar answer to send to people who actually stole our images and use them online without payment.

    Cheers, Harry

  70. well said! Ive paste the links to my fb acc. Hope people in my country which is malaysia will change their mind when reading this. Creative people in our country normally get treated this way! Thanks!

  71. 100% on, thank you for writing this! If one more person tells me it’s for credit or that they have no budget but are a multi million dollar brand, I will pull my hair out. I’m most concerned that the people asking for free work are indeed being paid, beyond twisted.

  72. Very true & very well written. Some good points raised by my co-respondents, too. My husband is a wedding/portrait/event photographer and has been asked why some clients get charged a different rate to others – they just don’t seem to get the fact that spending four hours at a sporting event with the prospect of many sales to many people is very different to spending four hours trying to get their three uncooperative brats to all sit still and smile at the same time, to produce a family portrait they will be happy with but only they will be interested in buying.

  73. dave Tease

    Well written, Nice work!

  74. Bravo! Can you add an image to the article so I can “pin” it on pinterest? (I hope this request doesn’t fall into the category of asking for free stuff.)

    • Justin

      Actually, pinterest is a huge copyright infringement issue. They copy your image and host it on their servers and expect you to do nothing. Expect pinterest to get law slapped eventually.

  75. Agree completely! I’m a digital artist trying to go professional, and about 99% of the requests I get ask for it to be free. “But it’ll get your name out there, and it’s just a hobby anyway, right?” *headdesk* People think that just because something is a “hobby” to someone right now, that it’s a) Not something they plan to do professionally one day or b) Not difficult as they “clearly enjoy doing it”.

  76. I Agree too, with cell phone pics being bought by generic medias the trend is going down even faster.

  77. Thank you, thank you thank you!

    Add me too please,

  78. Thank you for providing this essential tool for all of us to use. I suspect it took a significant amount of your time to write. It is insightful, respectful, and comprehensive.

  79. very well written….good job.

  80. Couldn’t agree more! Please add my name to the list! 🙂

  81. Visiting this page again after first reading it this morning, I think I would be more apt to send a client to it directly if it didn’t have the comments section.

    • Tony Wu

      Hi Chris,

      It would be nice if the page were cleaner, but it’s what it is now. I can’t really delete the comments. Maybe copy and paste the text, with a link if you want to keep your reply free of the comments section?



  82. Thjs is some great stuff! How do we get EVERYBODY on the planet to read this!?!

  83. I can relate to it. It’s about time people realize that we also need money to survive.

  84. Totally agree and have my full support!!! Kindly Sign me in tnx

  85. Thanks tony for a lovely article which indeed addresses the current major issues in creative field. I am a professional photog from India and here problems are worse than anyone can imagine. but these are some well made points. Thanks once again 🙂

  86. alex mustard

    Regarding the exposure argument – if you were really in need of this additional exposure – how come they found you in the first place.

  87. Local and regional press are bad for this – if they can pay agencies they can support their local freelancers………………..I just sent out my terms and pricing structure to one – AGAIN !

  88. Brilliant, totally agree. Would you please sin me too. Many thanks

  89. Glad you posted this because I need to send a lot of people here to read it.

  90. Absolutely. A beautifully eloquent statement…

  91. I totally agreed and felt it…

  92. Absolutely 100% agree! I put a lot of hard work on it always…

  93. Chris Winter

    100% true.

  94. Agree 100% well put, please add me to list.

  95. mike

    Totally agree 150%!

  96. Chris Christo

    Totally agree 150%!

  97. Beautifully said. Please add me to the list.

  98. If you haven’t seen this video – “The Vendor Client Relationship” by Scofield Editorial – you’ll all enjoy this. is a story that connected with more than half a million viewers in less than 14 days. When a story goes viral, it is finding a truth, touching a nerve or making people laugh. It’s one of my favorite examples of how ridiculous it is that every other profession expects payment so why should we be treated any differently?

  99. Yes, enough is enough, time to get some respect for our skills and craftmanship!! Will definitely share……

  100. I completely agree with this as I have been asked numerous times to provide services for FREE. And when I refuse they just move onto the next photographer. Even some magazines want to barter for ads. Why do they think that we don’t have bills to pay like the rest of the world. Bet these folks don’t work for free!

  101. Thank you so much for this well-written piece. In this world where individuals try to utilize every second of their time (via phone, computer, ANYTHING), it is interesting that the time and talent of the artist of any form is no longer valued.

  102. Please add me to the signatory list.

    Randell John

  103. This is great!!! I am going to use it!

  104. lokhman hakim

    cant agree more.true n indeed its true.

  105. Vishal Dang

    I’m a professional photographer and agree to it 100%. In fact I have had a couple of experiences like this when someone asked me for some free work and since it was for a charity cause (that’s what I was told, I’m not sure if they made profit and kept it themselves or really used it for charity) I agreed to provide some of my work for the noble cause. At a later date when I did inquire about how the show went no one really bothered to give me a proper reply. The person who contacted me for the images was ‘un-contactable’ for some strange reasons. I didn’t bother their ‘happy lives’ but after reading this article it opened my eyes. It was one and half years ago so its past now but I’ve learnt my lesson. I would like to be a signatory to this article.

  106. Great post and well explained Tony.

    Heard every one of these excuses, been promised the moon only to never see it and more……….

    I may copy your text as a general reply if that is OK as yours is much more polite than my responses have been over the years 🙂

    David Haas

  107. Well said.
    Please add me to the list.

    Roberto Soncin Gerometta

  108. At last, well said, we all think we’re the only ones

  109. Wonderfully put, much more polite than ‘f-u.’ Requests for work for free are a constant. As you so clearly point out, ‘non-profits’ are
    often the worst offenders. Everyone else is paid, so why should the professional photgraphy be expected for free when it will be used to
    promote the ‘non profit’ to assist in the raisng of funds? Newspapers/magazines are no better with the ‘Can you send it ‘On Spec’ request.
    I was recently asked by a German childrens’ magazine publisher if I could put a ‘Selection of images available for free.’ A simple Google
    search revealed the size and cash available to the publisher. The editor tried it on and was clearly embarrased when I called her out. Too
    many amateurs posing as professionals looking for their 15 minutes of ‘fame’ are killing this business. Too many PR companies shifting
    our work sideways for corporate advertisements, clearly breaching the original photo coverage contract. Too many newspapers/magazines
    attempting to claim copyright of images supplied on assignment for them to syndicate through their own ‘stock agency’ regardless of our
    own agency affiliations with a ‘take it or leave it or get blacklisted’ agenda. We spend hours sitting at our desks trying to keep up with it all
    when we should be out shooting images. What a mess. Where did morality disappear to? Please add my name to your list. Thank you.

  110. I totally agree, and with the Facebook instant gratification, it makes it even worse. I have been told my prices are to high. My prices are what the market shows. Every area of the Nation has a different pricing structure. If i didn’t charge for it, I couldn’t afford to do the profession I do. Same with them If their employer didn’t charge their customer for their product/work. That employer wouldn’t be able to pay the employee. Same thing.

    Please add me to the signature.

    thanks great work.

  111. Please Add me to the Signatory List – this letter is a beautiful thing!
    Glenn R. Brule

  112. many thanks for sharing such an eloquent response!

  113. Totally agree.

    No one works for free.
    Nildo Scoop

  114. Brilliant, perfectly stated and very very usable. Thank you for this public servic to photographers !

  115. great read
    would love to sign !

  116. Tracey Dunn

    I totally agree – how do people think the bills get paid – we dont get free rent, free food, free equipment, free training, free travel costs, free petrol etc.. etc.. how do they think we are supposed to pay for all this? with fresh air and photo credit? And like everyone says other people are paid to work and pay for things they want and need, why not photography? There’s a limit to how much free stuff and time you can give.

    Tracey Dunn

  117. Ram Mohandas Rao

    Please add me to the Signatory List

    Ram Mohandas Rao

  118. 100% true and accurate, people who aren’t photographers don’t realize that it’s so much more than showing up, snapping a few pictures, saying a few words to people and leaving. They don’t see the behind the scenes work that goes into the before, prepping your equipment, checking out locations, making sure forms and paperwork are in order and the after, hours of editing, organizing and creating to get everything just right. Not to mention being on your feet for hours, not eating at the recption because you are taking pictures, listening to everyone else tell you how to do your job etc…I’m a freelancer, I do photography on the side, I have a regular full time job but it still chaps my hide when I hear people talk down about photographers and how “hard to get along with” they can be or how easy their job is. It’s not, we do it because of a passion we have to create and share, not becasue(at least not in most cases)of the money. We work hard to earn our payment and we deserve it 110%!

  119. Bravo!
    The same situation happens in Brasil.
    I am not a professional, but someone deeply in love with photography.

  120. Damn fine response – please add my name…

    Relatedly, here’s writer Harlan Ellison’s response to donating work:

  121. Well said, sir. Please add me to the list of endorsing photographers.
    Louis Allen (roving i Sydney)
    Sydney, Australia.

  122. I’m with you guys
    Being a photographer for the last 36 years made me be upset so many times with this kind of requests.
    Thanks for sharing this

  123. I would like to be a signatory on this document please. And thank you for taking the time to write such an eloquent and thorough statement.

    Tom Sparks

  124. Roger Garwood

    It is essential to inform all clients and potential clients of the above points. It’s even more important for photographers NEVER to give work away (other than to bona fide charities). It is also essential for our professional bodies and unions to promote our professional requirements and for us to support them.

  125. Fantastic, perfectly said with style, without sarcasm or being patronising. I would like to use this if i may (with link)


    • Matthew Oldfield

      Matt – Please go ahead. Amend the text and use as you like – that is what is there for. If possible, please link back to this page. Matt

  126. Totally agree with all points… Please add my name to the list of signatories.

    Thank you for organising this.

    Roger H. Harman

  127. Well and concise. Thanks Tony.

    May I be added to this list to ?

  128. LOVE THIS!

    -Emily Crenca Photography

  129. Nice job Tony. Thanks for putting down in words what is sometimes so hard to articulate, especially when I am frustrated with this sort of scenario from time to time.

    Troy Braun/PhotoAgent

  130. Thanks so much for the comprehensive and excellently written letter. It makes it a lot easier to answer requests for low- or no-paying jobs. I won’t change a word of it!

  131. I want to be added to Signatories list pls !

  132. Thanks for the eloquent response please add me to the list.

  133. Please add my name to the list. I agree wholeheartedly!

  134. Please add my name as a signatory to this. Youssef Ismail,

  135. Thank you for this. It helps me put things into perspective. I struggle with this constantly.

  136. i totally strongly agree.

  137. I would very much like to be on this list.
    Martin Tosterud.

  138. Hi Tony,

    Thanks for sharing this. It’s simply BRILLIANT and helps in responding to unreasonable requests in a calm way (instead of reacting and typing out anger). Do you think I can adapt this and re-phrase it for designers in general?


  139. Well said, I agree with all points… Please add my name to the list of signatories.
    Thank for putting this together .

    Nico Zwaneveld (

  140. I agree with all of you, on all points…

    Please add my name as a signatory, Mehmet İMER ,

  141. You hit the nail in the head, Tony. Thanks a lot.

  142. Larry Mc

    Very comprehensive and on point. Excellent points.

  143. I strongly agree with all that’d been said… Can add my name also please….!
    This is fantastic, just hope everybody will able to read and see all importance of Photography industry and work we do!…
    Thanks a lot……
    Regards Tatiana Walker (

  144. Excellent, many thanks for sharing! Please add me to the signatory list as well.
    All the best!

  145. Its Awesome using it – Nitin Gupta.

  146. Comment: Very good answer to a frequently asked question, well done.

    I have addressed the misconception that “digital = free” here:

    Please feel free to spread the info,


  147. I fully support this. Please add my name to the list!

  148. I would like my name to be included in the signatures.

  149. Nicely put – please add my name to the list

  150. What is even worse is some of these photo contests or gallery shows that require an entrance fee (I’ve even seen it in widely respected magazines like National Geographic, etc.). There is a very successful annual photo/gallery show one in my city (it has been going on for 6 years or so) where each photo you submit is $25 or $50 and the curator/producer receives thousands of submissions from all over the world. The work is stunning, but why should we, as artists, be funding his show? He has nothing to lose when all of his costs are covered. Imagine pulling that off in another industry – can you imagine Home Depot charging their vendors to stock tools in their store and then they might never sell them and the vendor is out the money! I will NEVER pay an entrance fee to be in a show! Shame on these organizers for not being proper business people and getting the funding elsewhere.

    It should be mandatory that what Tony has posted here is taught in all photo classes worldwide; better yet, it should come with every camera manual and be posted in every retail camera store (as well as the online ones)! It is the younger wannabe photographers who usually ruin it for the rest of the bunch and spoil the clients to think that everyone will give it away – they do this not necessarily by choice, but just out of ignorance and lack of education. This has killed our profession for sure, I’ve more or less gotten out of the business for this reason, sadly.

    I’ll proudly add my name to the list. Thanks for standing up and speaking out for us, Tony!

  151. Would you please add my name to your list of photographers:

    Syv Ritch

    Thank you

  152. Thanks. I’ve been looking for something like this for months now. FINALLY I got it. Thanks again.

    Bob Julius

  153. Thanks for providing this method to communicate the value of creative works.
    Please add me to your signatory list.


  154. Everywhere in this world it is the same – thanks. I try to translate it in german.

  155. Please add my name to the list !
    Paul Burdick

  156. I cannot agree more with this piece. Please consider me a signatory.

    Pat Brownewell
    Brownewell Photography

  157. Free and business do not go together. This virus has spread throughout the creative industry. If you have the interest, I blogged about this last year.
    The Non Cents of Free
    Thanks of your words. May they stick to clients.

  158. Perfect…Nicely stated. Could not have come across this post at a better time.

  159. So totally true for all creative professionals. In addition to my photography I am a woodworker trying to make my hobby pay. Many times I have been asked to donate one of my hand-crafted wooden items to give as a gift to international visitors. Sorry, but I’ve spent thousands on my woodworking machinery, hundreds for the fittings for my pens, keyrings and other items, even more hundreds for the specialty native timbers I always use, and everything I make takes time and technique. Don’t insult me by asking me to donate the results!

    • Sue

      No doubt they also asked the airline that flew the international visitor over for a “free ticket” and the restaurant where they fed them for a “free” meal and the grocery store for some “free” food. Maybe this is all a holdover from the days of patrons for the arts that subsized art…but we don’t have one, unfortunately. I don’t understand the attitude towards wanting/expecting artists to donate.

  160. It would be great if people actually read it.

  161. You make some excellent points. I’ve never been too fussed about being paid though. I love doing work for free especially if it’s helping someone out or for something I support. I think people care too much about money these days. Especially people that get so obsessed with the idea of someone else “stealing” their photos that you can barely see their work underneath the mountain of copyright symbols. I think the day I start caring about the money first and photos second is the day I stop being an artist. I’ll be poor a lot, but I plan do die a happy either way.

    • The day you start caring about photos second? Being remunerated for your images shows that there is real value to the pictures that you produce and choose to communicate with. It’s highly arrogant, naive, and childish to presume that professionals who make a living with their skill and commitment to their art are in some way ‘selling out’. Nobody has suggested that there is a hierarchy where money comes before good photography anyway.

    • The naive ‘money doesn’t matter’ tone of your comment suggests to me that you have never gone hungry or had to worry about a roof over your head, in which case, lucky you. There are many who would love to be able to spend all their time caring about their art but are faced with the harsh reality of having to care about money or starve on the streets. When you face that situation, you’ll start worrying about people stealing your work, too.

  162. Well done Tony – love it! I used to refer to that hilarious YouTube vid (that’s linked to in your other post) but now I can just point people here! Awesome!

    Happy for you to add me as signatory if the list isn’t too long already?


  163. Joy

    I wish I could have seen something like this last year. I’m a graphic designer and my husband is a web designer, and we have lost a couple of clients over the fact that they didn’t think they got what they paid for (despite the fact that we were practically cutting our throats with the prices we charged them). One of them became so adamant about it, that he came to our house (while we had friends there) and started acting rudely, saying that we “did him and [one of our other clients] wrong”. My husband explained to him that we gave him 6 months extra of web hosting, at no charge, AND did photography for his site (going to his establishment every Friday to take pictures during his business hours) without extra charge. And we let him know that his friend (another client) ignored mine and my husband’s numerous emails to him that we sent 3, 2, and 1 month, down to 2 weeks in advance; letting him know that his hosting was coming due shortly, and if he wanted to continue to use our services, that he would need to pay and renew his contract with us. I believe my husband also tried calling him about it. But he never responded to either of us. Well, both client’s hosting was past due, so we took down their sites. And WE were the one’s who got chewed out about it by one of the said clients. Needless to say, we changed our business habits very quickly, and vowed to never put ourselves through anything like that again. It’s crazy that anyone would actually try to pull something like that. Especially considering that most graphic/web designers and/or design firms would have charged them twice, if not triple, the amount we did. We have definitely learned our lesson in dealing with customers/clients.
    I have recently started a photography business, which is off to a slow start, and I will definitely keep this page on hand. Thanks for sharing this! 🙂

    • Joe McDonald

      Joy – Thanks for you info. I wonder if you had created a very detailed agreement / contract spelling out exactly what you were providing. It is one way to manage client expectations.

      • Tony Wu

        That’s a great suggestion Joe.

        In my case, it’s usually photo sales, so there’s not much of a need for a detailed contract. In the instances where I have assignments, I do put everything in writing if the other side doesn’t.

    • Andre Friedmann

      No good deed goes unpunished. When I was a young photographer, working for reduced rates and narrow margins went hand-in-hand with unhappy, demanding clients.

  164. Clear, succint and sadly true.
    Please add my name.



  165. Great article! Please add my name into the list..


    Marwan Mahmud

  166. Excellent reminder to the professional and wake-up call to potential clients! Thanks!

  167. Thanks for writing this Tony, you’ve saved us all a lot of work.

  168. Martyn f. Chillmaid

    Excellent article beautifully reasoned. As a photographer of 63 I have come across this problem on a regular basis but it is now much more brazen and frequent than in the past. I shall be borrowing this article and would like you to add my name to the list.

    Best wishes

    Martyn f. Chillmaid

  169. RC Tempo

    Very well said. I do, from time to time CHOOSE to donate my time/images to causes that are near and dear to me, and will continue to do so. I take no offence in being asked, as those askers should take no offence when I turn them down – but more often than not, they do. Thank you for having the courage to say what most of us couldn’t or wouldn’t!

  170. I have tried to gradually educate some of my ‘fans’ on FB as well as others about this issue in the hopes they will keep this in mind as they ask me or other artists about ‘giving’ away our work or copying things off the web. I try to get them to think in terms of their own work and needing to be valued. Drawing parallels between them having to provide all their own computer and work tools, being asked to work a full day, then being asked by the people driving the nicer cars to please donate their days work AND (in the case of copy/pasting someone elses image without any credit etc…) being asked to do it for no credit whatsoever – not even a thank you.

    Please add my name: MJ Cadle

  171. Very well written Tony!!!

  172. Well said – I can only echo similar sentiments.
    Please add my name.

  173. Charities, pay themselves salaries, but expect images for nothing. The corprates pay themselves often unwarranted and undersevered salaries, and often expect others to work for nothing.

    This arrogance will have to change and is changing. Throughout the world.

  174. Wfinley

    The irony of this post is that you’re using WordPress. A software package developed for free and distributed for free. If you’re all about just compensation why are you using open source free software & templates?

    • Tony Wu

      I’ve distributed this text for free. The translators have provided translation for free. Many, if not most, of the photographers who’ve put their names to this have donated images and work, at times and circumstances of their own choosing, to parties of their own choosing.

      No one is “all about just compensation”.

      You’ve either misunderstood the whole point, or you have chosen not to understand.

    • Wfinley, I am a professional photographer and I host all my work on a blog that has since Nov 2006 received 1.06 million page views. I chose not only because it’s free but because it’s not going to expire and wipe out all traces of my hard work leaving search engines with countless bad links after I die. I chose WordPress to leave a legacy of my work for my children to discover when they grow up. For this reason, self-hosting is a sure way to kill any chance of that when you no longer keep up with hosting fee payments.

      For the same reason, Tony’s message is here to stay for current and future generations to discover for as long as continues to exist.

    • WordPress has a business model as well though: to buy access to the Akismet anti-spam plugin and other features for large sites when hosting one’s own instance of WordPress has a cost, and organizations like my employer feel that it is good value to spend money for WordPress. Yes, the WordPress platform was developed “freely” (there are different meanings of the word “free” that are at play here), but there are people around the world who make a living working on WordPress.

  175. Thank you for bringing to life this excellent idea.

    I would like to be on the list.


  176. Perfectly said – for anyone to understand. Please add my name to the list.

    Cheers Barb

  177. Well written and 100% spot on! Add me to the signatories list!

    Ray A. Akey

  178. Very well stated. Thank you, Tony. Please add my signature to this document.

    Dan Beauvais

  179. Thank you for taking the time to compose such a well written and thoughtful response!

    Jason Ryman

  180. Well said. Appreciate the effort and back links are better than credits!

  181. Sums up many of my feelings. Thank you for posting this.

  182. Thanks!
    My experience: Some people asks not only for free pictures but for free work! I did that twice in the early years when I started my photo business in 2004. The promise was that there would be regular paid jobs in the future… What happened: They used the pictures and I never heard of them again because for the next job they find another fool working for free. My advice to all new photographers/artists/designers… don´t expect anything they don´t care for you or your talent they just want it the cheapest way!
    Respectable clients may ask for a special price if they hired you on a regular basis (which is absolutely OK). But enquiries for free work/service/photos either come from people who got no idea about prices, license fees, production costs… (often they let the apprentice call you) or from the “very smart ones” trying to find a beginner or desperate “pro”.

  183. Great piece….! Excellent

  184. Perfect!

    Mike White
    Commercial Photographer in Chicago

  185. Joe McDonald

    Tony – Thanks for your posting. Good way to educate a prospect. Someday, I might use it as a starting point for a shorter version.
    Free will always be a way for prospectives to approach getting work done. However, I think that creatives need to consider their target market & branding, if free is constantly being requested. – Joe

  186. Please add my name to the list: Andreas J. Focke

  187. Matt

    I am all for this

    Matthew Ashton – AMA SPORTS PHOTO AGENCY

  188. Fantastic!
    Finally a decent article to put people in their place.. they all seem to think free photos are OK! Im a semi-pro photographer and i simply try to make some money from my photos mainly to pay for all the expensive equipment and im struggling. I have to work full-time in another job. If it weren´t for the passion i have for photography i would have left ages ago.
    Thanks ever so much for this!
    Regards from Tenerife, Canary islands, Spain

  189. Please add my name to the list: John Slemp



  190. Well said. I to would love to work for free, but we have to make a living. I’m always willing to work within a budget if the client is reasonable.

  191. We’ve all been saying it for years (in my case, for more than 25). It’s nice to see it here so succinctly in writing. Thanks!

  192. Please add me to the signature list.
    I am frequently asked for TF, TFP, and/or TFCD. It’s time I address my needs to pay my bills. Photography is not an inexpensive business to get into. I have thousands of $$$$$ invested in my equipment and education. Just because the current technology is digital, doesn’t mean we don’t have costs associated with it.
    Thank you so much.
    Karen Carnahan

  193. Thank you. I am happy to give sometimes to a charity of my choice and be paid sometimes….all at my discretion. If I give a shoot for a charity auction to a breast cancer group to honor a family member fighting the big fight I will. This doesn’t mean that every non-profit gets me for free. My images. My rules. My heartstrings.

  194. Tony,

    Well Written!
    Could you please add me to the list.


    Cary Dean

  195. This is a well written rebuttal to a problem that only gets worse with time. Buyers think the cameras do all the work anyway so why should you be compensated for your time?! When my landlord takes a credit in return for my rent then I’ll start accepting them for photographs. Until then it’s cash only! Please add my name to the list.


    Jim McNally

  196. Hear, hear!

    Add me to the list.

  197. As a freelance photographer, I would be very grateful if you could add me to your list of photographers.

    Thank you
    Mike Gunnill

  198. Sir,
    I principally agree with all the points on your list, it confirms the widening gap between client and photographer is a worrying issue for many new and established commercial photographers in the UK. Having a studio hire service open to all commercial photographers and understanding just how difficult it often is to make an honest buck from their chosen trade, is one that needs to be revolutionised globally.

    It is a general rant that I hear weekly and one I do not envy anyone. Alas, as the success of my business is in line with the equal success of the photographers in my country, I have to fully support this list of reasons. I would ask your permission to re-blog the article to hit the 4000+ people who read my blog each month.

    please add my name to the list above.



  199. please add my name to your list. Michael Raffin of

  200. I am a freelance photographer with more than ten years of dealing with people who use this approach. I have over the years become quite proficient in sign language. This article is well written and succinctly expresses how many of us feel about this. “Stop Freebee’s”. Thank yo to the author and please add me to your list.

  201. Well said !
    I do a lot of work for charities…and they often wonder why I ask for compensation…even at a discounted rate. For every hour I spend photographing an event I usually spend at least 2 hours editing the photographs and optimizing them in photoshop and then uploading them to an on line site. An 8 to 10 hour event can take a whole week to finish. How often are other professionals asked to do a week’s worth of work ” Pro Bono “

  202. Well I am so glad to have been directed to this blog and its contents. A well written article and it states exactly what we as photographers experience on a daily basis. Thank you Tony Wu!!
    I shall be sharing this link.

  203. GREAT JOB!!! Perfectly explained!
    Please add my name to the list!

  204. George Mai

    Thank you for posting this.

  205. Please add me to the list 🙂 very well said, Laura

  206. RR Caniglia

    I had not thought about things in this way. I am not a pro and have no plans to quirky day job, but I will be much more selective in what I agree to donate. I have a pro set-up and get inquiries frequently ia word-of-mouth. However, I will now refer folks to local pros if I think they can pay for it.

  207. Well done… An interesting perspective that I’m sure we’ve all experienced.
    Good work.

  208. The perception is that we just take a few pictures and its that easy. Often this comes from people we meet at events who stand there with their latest model, top of the range camera, which is set in Auto Mode. “It`s not that hard, look at this one I took today” as they show you the back of the camera. Yes, congratulations you have taken a few lucky shots, with all the praise going to the software in your camera. If you were asked to deliver a full range of creative shots, on time , to a brief you would struggle. It is time that our profession is taken seriously as it once was. A photographer has to have great organisational skills, people skills, creative foresite, instinct and passion. Thanks for this blog and it`s contents, very welcome and timely.

  209. Well said Tony! Thanks! I am not a Professional (meaning I do not make a living from photography). I am an avid non-pro selling images here and there, asked and will be having a show in two or so weeks from now, have over 13,000 images in my website, used to shoot a Nikon F5 and now use a Nikon D700 with all sorts of lenses, have a good photo printer, and have thousands of dollars in associated photographic gear.

    I do give my images of a plantation (where I am a volunteer and on their Board of Directors Friends group) for free to the plantation management to support the plantation. I also volunteer for a group that is rebuilding/planting/making more useful all the squares in our historic town. I give them my images to support their efforts, too. I also volunteer for a group that locates drowning victims for the Emergency Management Agency in our town. I give them my images of what we do to support our effort.

    I feel these are very worthwhile efforts and I actually volunteer and do grunt work for all of them. If nothing else, my name is getting around that I document these things and also am very good (selfless self-promotion!).

    All that aside, these folks have no real idea of the costs to myself to be able to provide them with my equipment and expertise – though they certainly gain the benefits. I have no issue with them.

    It is the others, as you mention, that want images for free when we have no vested interest in them and they have none in us that makes us all so mad. As I said in the LinkedIn post, I will be asking what they will give me for free as long as I don’t think it will be detrimental to me in the long run with that particular group.

    I love your letter. I am thinking of “re-creating” it in a manner that covers the non-professionals more specifically. We, too, have paid thousands and thousands for our gear over time, spent thousands of hours perfecting our “non-professional craft”, and our spouses are probably getting tired of supporting our habit!

    I will look for that link to add myself to your list of photographers.

    Kudos to you for telling it like it is…or should be!

    Troup Nightingale
    Southeastern Photography

    • troup:

      you are too generous! the obvious question we all have, is how do you afford all your expensive gear when you don’t charge for your work? a separate income, i presume..? as a professional, i urge you to act more like a business person, and charge for everything to cover your costs. even simple philanthropic donations, once consistent, become detrimental to us all, because they set a precedent, however small, that photographers usually give stuff away. my rule is that i donate once to a non-profit, then, if they want me again, (which they usually do because i am good at what i do), then i charge them. the hard-working and honorable among them are always fine with this, and understand that i need to finance the great work i do for them. the takers will move on to the next fool who wants to give everything away, and the consistency of their brand or product will evaporate. you should try this too; please stand up for your effort and help everyone in our business!



  210. Thank you for writing this, Please add my name above.

  211. Thank you so much for this article – no more guilt and no more freebies.

  212. Michael Williams

    I totally agree will all that’s been stated in this article. As professional photographers we run into all kinds of scenarios with people and their budgets. We too have budgets and try to make it in life. We must all stick together with what we do best, PHOTOGRAPHY. Stick with your pricing.

    • Michael.. I’m sticking to my pricing and not being a shoot an burn photographer. It pains me that people think its “funny” they have a point and shoot camera set on automatic, snap of hundreds of pics and post them on facebook for everyone to take for free, from an event I worked,and try to sponsor. Thing is I cant compete with free crappy pictures.. guess I will be NOT sponsoring them. Im sticking to my prices.

  213. If you give it away it is a gift. A gift should always be appreciated. Make sure your gifts are given to those that deserve them.

  214. Perfectly put together, thanks Tony.
    It is surprising just how many people ‘don’t have a budget’ for photography, as often happens to professional colleagues of mine with weddings.

    Add me to the list!

  215. Fully agree with this!

  216. I will use it, probably too often.

  217. Excellent and well said. I do sometimes contribute to local environmental non-profits and am glad to do so. Beyond that, working for free just tends to lower the value of the work of professional photographers and make it even more difficult to make a living from their art.
    This extends to business places who want to hang your art. Exposure is their rational. It makes their place look nicer but the likelihood of selling a piece is about 1%.
    Add me to the list please

  218. thank you thank you thank you

  219. It pays dividends – one of the readers of your link that I posted on LinkedIn runs a local business group and I have been invited to speak to these business people next week on the importance of using a Professional to sell their Services and Products, Copyright Law and Rights Managed Images…

    So people, carry on giving out the link to Tony’s excellent piece, this could lead to a couple of more LOCAL clients for me…!


    love this it was very helpful and motivates me to charge because yes it does cost a lot be in this profession thank you again

  221. Carol Polich

    Yes, the .org’s are the worst when it comes to wanting a photo and saying they are “non profits” …willing to pay the printer but not the photographer. Next, are the magazines who want photo(s) “tomorrow” and after delivering via email (after hrs of more editing and downloading), there is no reply and 2 months later, you see the “flikr” type image appear in double postage sized stamp in the feature article for which they originally requested!!!Our profession has become diluted, over saturated, and mediocre with undiscerning eyes. The term “professional” is now used by anyone and everyone.

  222. Agree 100%.

    If anything, it would be nice if people could also understand that in many instances (particularly event/wedding work, which has inconsistent lighting, meaning insane time spent editing and post-processing every image individually without batch work — correcting exposure and white balance at minimum), “10 hours” of shooting can easily equal anywhere from 40-60 (or more!) hours to finish the images. Add the post-processing time, the actual shoot time, the travel time (and gas), the pre-wedding consultations, drawing up contracts, marketing, etc., and that’s a LOT of time and money.

    As it is, many people scoff even at more modest wedding prices on the lower $1,000 end. Woe is we.

  223. Put me on your list Tony, a very welkom initiative.

  224. Damn right! I will send my BS “potential clients” to this blog. please put me on the list.

    Al B. For

  225. A very good piece. I struggle to sell photos but the rationale of giving them away has never resonated with me. If something is worth having it is worth paying for. If you give your work away that means your value to yourself is nothing!

    I did donate one image for an auction to raise money for a special school, in return they gave 3 months pre-publicity on their website, with links back to me, and the images were still there 6 months after so it was 9 months of web presence for nothing.

    The plumber would not fix your leaks for nothing just because you were broke – and not many people would have the hide to ask!

  226. Great response and a timely release of the site too.

    Congrats Tony.
    P.S Please add my name up there mate.

  227. I fully agree – well said – could not have put it any better!!

  228. An example I think should b added, which I fine typical in my particular field, is as follows. A small clothing shop or designer needs photos for their ad/catalogue/etc they pay a model, a hairstylist, a MUA, sometimes cash and partial trade, generally they offer some store credit to u for the photography but they place the credit value at their retail price and yet ask u to place your value at about $15-20 hr for shooting time, then they ask for 10-20min worth of photoshop to b done to 100 images which translates into an additional 16-32 hours of your time which they don’t want to pay you for, and uf u complain they just ask u for them on a disc do they can have a friend do it for free. If u counseled you have given up all creative control over your images and your rights as to how they are used. I’m sure like many photographers out there (who have been in the industry for more than a few years) I have more than $50,000 in equipment, lights, cameras, lenses, etc, not to mention the thousands of dollars and time spent building my cyclorama. Even with the low rent I pay it cost $2000 a month just to keep the lights in and the doors open, u add the wage if my part time photo assistant $400wk and suddenly we are looking at $3600 a month, and I havnt even paid myself yet. U decide that into 18 sessions a month and the $300 setting fee only pays me $50 a week more than I pay my assistant, and I work twice the hours she does. So when the ask for everything on a disk I’ve just been cut off @ the knees because the only profit I make is the print sales. No one would ever go to their home-builder and say I’ll buy some wood and you can build my house for store credit @ my shoe store, they would get hit with a hammer.

  229. Add me to the list … Nicely written

  230. Swesome text! Business here in Quebec (QC/CA) don’t understand this…

    Please add me to the list to support.

    Kevin Gauthier /

    Thank you.

  231. Here I am, thinking it’s only in the Netherlands that the photographer is the only part that is asked to work for free, because there is no budget for photography. Seems like it’s a world wide phenomenon after all.

  232. Love this! We come across so many people who say I don’t have money.
    Great article!
    add me to the list.

  233. I haven’t been asked to work for free this week. Yet. But then, it’s only 6:37 am.

  234. Forgot to mention in my previous comment:

    Please feel free to add me to the list above. Thanks, Tony! 🙂

  235. Please do add me to this ever growing list 🙂

  236. Add me to the LIST!
    I strongly believe photography is art it’s not just snap and print.

  237. Very well written and a much needed article. It is important for us as photographers to try and educate the general public that we cannot work for free. That we do have expenses and have to pay our bills like everyone else.
    Pleas ad my name to your list.

  238. Eloquently put and well said. The situation is so bad that after nearly 20 years it looks like I may have to leave photography……..

  239. Good job, Tony! Please add me to the list, also:

    Moira Pomeroy

  240. This is a great idea. Please sign me up. Although lifelong photo collector and historian, I only turned professional photographer a few years ago, having spent many years previously running a specialised small retail business, which taught me much about the psychology of buying and selling, the customer’s perception of a bargain, etc.

    I found that one of the biggest mistakes was to undercharge for your product or service. The less you charge the less you are valued, and often the meanest clients are those who can most afford your fees, but see it almost as a game to try to get something for virtually nothing!

    After retraining in professional photography at art college, I spent large amounts of money on equipment, not just digital cameras + lenses, but 5×4 film film camera, scanner, studio lighting, A2 printers, computers, professional quality VDUs. Then there was insurance, travel, marketing costs, etc., quite apart from the fact that you usually have to spend several times the amount in time of the actual shoot on each job before you are completely happy with it.

    Sometimes a potential customer will claim that they can get the same service cheaper elsewhere, in which case I politely decline to negotiate saying that I know that what I am offering may not be cheap, but it still represents excellent value for money, and while I am working for them I will give 100% of my energy and creative input. My reputation rests on my results, not on freebies.

  241. I agree with this whole heartily.

    Thanks Tony, I may add this on my new site with a link-back of course.

    You can add me to the list as well.

  242. Totally agree, add me to the list 🙂

  243. Well done. Politely explaining, in a non-confrontational manner, what can become a very emotional discussion. Thank you.

  244. Free Photos ruins the stock market . People who ask you for free photos don’t respect our work. Harlan Ellison’s – pay the writer (photographer) has the right answer for any request for free creative work:

  245. Very well done, Thanks! You can add me to the list.

  246. Please add my name as a signatory. As key author of NPPA’s Cost of Doing Business Calculator and several other resources, I find this an excellent explanation. And I will share it.

    — greg smith
    NPPA National Board Member
    Bluffton, SC

  247. Add my name! And what is even worse than paying a fee to be in a show..having to pay $50 to go to the gala opening! without the artist…there would be no show!

  248. You’ve git the point. I am very much willing to join, a very short version of this would be very helpful. I van hardly imagine anyone reading through this long text. Thanks yrs Robert

  249. Its a very well done piece, I am definitely sharing this… Thank you

  250. Totally agree and clearly explained. The value of a photograph declined a lot after the introduction of digital photography that some forget it is a profession.

    I support this message.

  251. Business cards are easy to make, same as website, blog, and fictitious business name. However, investment, education, and pure intuition in knowing the art, is not. I appreciate this, and shared it.

  252. Excellent! Thank you so much for articulating it so well!

  253. Very well said! Thank you for taking the time to make this for all of our benefit!
    Please add me to the list.

  254. I’m in – my name on the list. Couldn’t agree more!

  255. Thank you so much for putting this out there for all the hard working Professional Photographers! It has been linked to on my website!

  256. Add my name..Fade up with all those request.. I thought ,I am the only free photographer in this planet…:P.. you have hit the right spot….

  257. Thanks for the enjoyable read. Very true and a problem we all face all of the time. I hope this helps photographers as a group to stand their ground and demand what their work is worth. Well done!

  258. Thank you! Its an amazing article i get request for free images everyday. and couldnt agree more with ur article!

  259. And…PLEASE! Add my name to this list!

  260. teguh hermawan

    i think its a common problems at around the world, how we can educate the client about it?

  261. So totally worth reading for everyone on this planet! Really.

    The message in this article is essentially ‘common sense’. And as we all are aware, common sense is not so common these days. Being a Graphic Designer, I feel so low sometimes because people just DO NOT realize the amount of work we put behind what we do. Sometimes it is unbelievable what happens to us. I love the couch example in one of the comments, I gave a similar example of luggage to one of my clients when I was asked to do some spec work. Cut to the point easily, and I’m glad he was someone who could understand.

    There’s an interesting talk by Mike Monteiro of Mule Design Studio here and I’m sure most of us in the creative fields will have a smile on our faces watching it.

  262. About time…Could not have said it better myself! Thanks for taking the time to articulate this point so well!

    Please please add me!

  263. RE: Teguh’s comment: Teguh…this is NOT about educating the client. (when all of you are done screaming at me…) Ok…this is about educating photographers on how to conduct business. It needs to happen in the schools. It needs to happen through mentorship. It HAS GOT TO start with the photographers. Clients couldn’t give a damn about our business; if they can get it for free from an uneducated (in the ways of business) photographer, then why the hell not?! Until photographers learn to conduct a business then nothing will change.

  264. And I could not resist posting this as an example. This person is a bane on the photo community with this type of attitude.

    “”just finished photographing two BEAUTIFUL log homes here in (location delted)…..I could do this all day long and NOT get paid! I love being in these beautiful spaces!”

    Mind you that these are (on average) $1 million dollar homes. Images are being shot for realtors (sorry, i Refuse to capitalize that term!) who make approximately 5-6 percent of the sale value. Oh, and the photography is not done well. Period.

    • i couldn’t agree more. (and realtors are the bane of the photo community. i’ve had them sit in my studio and slam my work in front of their client, refuse to pay $1,000 for professional architectural imagery that does justice to a multi-million dollar listing, and then produce hysterically bad pictures with their own point-and-shoot which frankly harms their client’s sale prospects. oh well. time to avoid that market segment!)

  265. Jim Chagares – sign me up.
    I got three request just this week for free usage of images and it is only Tuesday. Here is one of them just as mentioned above:

    As you can see, we own a bed and breakfast in Brookville. We are currently in the process of updating our website and adding new photos.
    We mentioned to Don a few weeks ago that we are trying to get a photo of an eagle on Brookville Lake to put on our website in an effort to promote Brookville Lake, and our bed and breakfast. Don mentioned you and your work, and just sent us a disc of your photography. You definitely have an impressive collection.
    Anyway, we were wondering if there was anyway we could use one of your photos on our website either by giving credit to you and/or possibly a link to your website.
    Also, we have seen you photos at Wolf Creek Habitat. They are gorgeous. Your name sounded familiar and now we know why.
    Thanks so much. We hope we can work together on this.

  266. Great text. I am at start of the path of becoming photographer, but already noticed people thinking/saying-if you love taking photos, why do you want to get payed for it.?!
    I will be giving direction to the above text, thank you for it.
    Please add my signature


  267. Well done. Thank you for so clearly articulating the elements of this issue – including the fact that some of us do, indeed, donate work in cases where we believe that doing so is warranted.

    Can you add my name to the list?


    G Dan Mitchell

  268. I am not a “pro” by a long shot, but I agree with this article 100% since this applies to a lot of other things other than photography. I know a lot of friends of mine that photography is their day job, their 100% source of income and I know how much sacrifices they have to make in order to pay their bills, so I sympathize with all of you.

    Keep up the great work!


  269. What else is there to say…great piece and true!!

  270. This is a well thought-out and articulated explanation. Please add me as a signatory!

    Ben Chase

  271. Great initiative! Maybe we should pay a text writer to write a simple and more clear version of this?

  272. Wonderful post. I will be sure to keep this on hand, as I receive many such requests. Thank you for this.

  273. Excellent read! Thank you for investing your time to clarify this burning problem. Lets hope that this will be read by those who it concerns and help professional photographers to hold the ground.
    Please can you add me to the list?
    Thank you,
    Petr Hlavacek

  274. Great article! I’m thinking of reposting this on my website or place a link but unfortunately, not all of the points are applicable to me or to the place where I’m at or where I’m shooting most of the time.

    If I can rephrase some of the words or maybe add some points, with your permission, this will be a good reminder to my future clients.

    Portraits by Bukool
    Cebu Wedding Photographer

  275. As an aspiring photographer, really insightful – Thank you

  276. Great – nothing else to say. Please add me to the list too.

  277. A very insightful article! I am an aspiring photographer and I’ve given up the hope to own a good DSLR camera after I heard its price! Really very expensive! I completely agree with your view that photographers have every reason not to provide images for free!

    I am planning to provide my images for free, because they did not meet the quality requirement for sale! (I hope people won’t demand quality to get the images for free.) My digital camera and its (fixed) lens aren’t adequate to produce high quality images. I know that to capture good images costly instruments are as important as the skill, experience and judgement of the photographer!

    Thank you for the great article!

    • Prem, don’t make the mistake of telling yourself and your potential customers that you should give your photographs away for free because they were taken on your inexpensive, fixed lens camera. Thinking that way will never get you into the financial position to buy the DSLR of your dreams! Even not-so-great images have a place in the photographic market – for example, they make terrific starter images for the many teach-yourself-Photoshop magazines that are emerging.
      If you start valuing your own work, others will value it also. As Jim Thorp said above, it’s all about the psychology of buying and selling: ‘The less you charge the less you are valued’. Putting a price on your work immediately plants the idea in a buyer’s mind that they are getting something of worth. If you think your work is worth nothing, the one receiving it will think it’s worthless too; they’ll value you less as an artist as well – which is not a great way to make a career doing what you love..

      • Fancy equipment does not a photographer make ;0) you can have the best stuff out there and not have the ability to make art from your images. You can put a very basic camera in someone’s hands and, if they have the talent and knowledge, they can produce wonderful works of art. Granted, you may not want to do large prints with some of them … but the point is that YOU are what makes the photo, the camera is the tool you make it with.

  278. Jimmy

    Fantastic! Your words mean much to me and have experienced this “phenomena” many, many times in my 30 year career as a professional photographer! Just recently, I had a friend of my wife, who lives across the country, send me an email asking me to send her many of my landscape pictures to her so she could use them as she sees fit! Not even a please or offer of any form of payment other than a lot of praise–which I have learned many think is a form of payment! Such nonsense! I am going to send her a link to this page!

    Please add me to the signatory list! Thank You!

  279. From someone who is sooooo tired of trying to justify that I, too, have to make a living in this tough climate, this article is long overdue. Add me to the list.

  280. With you all they way!! A perennial problem that has only gotten worse in the current economic climate. Add me to the list.

  281. Add me to the list please, I´ve being replying similarly for years ;O)



  282. Excellent article. Add me to the list please.
    There are far too many people jumping onto the photography bandwagon for “fun” and literally giving away photos for ‘credit’ in turn giving companies that “anyone with a camera can take photos” attitude. This article really brings it home and tells it like it is.

    Rod Datoc

  283. Now to enlighten the masses…

  284. As someone else said, “I thought I was the only one”.
    I get an average of one request every 2 weeks for me to do “free photography”, yet the entities in question are rarely short of money; one was a subsidiary of Siemens.
    An excellent article, thank you so much. Please add me to your signatory list.

  285. Please add me to the list. I’m a pro British Wildlife photographer and regularly get requests for photos that often turn into requests for freebies when I reply back suggesting I require a fee (even a small fee). I usually ask for the magazine’s usual rate. Replying to such requests takes time and effort. I suggest someone should compile a list of freeloading papers and magazines to shame them. I would start with a company who showed me no regard to the amount of TIME photographers spend on getting images, and that is TIME MAGAZINE. Here is the opening email I had from Katy Steinmetz earlier this year: Note how suddenly she drops out of any negotiation once money is suggested.

    “Hi David – We’d love to write up a post on your [wildlife photography] experience. May we have permission to use your photos, and would you be willing to share any more than the three the Guardian had? Any comment you’d like to send about your experience would also be great. ”


    I then asked what her usual rate is as a guide for a fee, she replied..

    “Thanks for getting back to me Dave. We wouldn’t pay for the images, so I think it’s probably not meant to be. But good luck with your work.”

    –Here’s my reply to her abrupt reply…..

    Dear Katy,
    That’s really sad! I didn’t realise that contributers to TIME magazine didn’t get paid! I had to ask [for a fee] and would have been happy with just a few dollars an image, not hundreds, because my professional income has bottomed to subsistence level due to photography becoming seen as worthless by much of the media. If your magazine is genuinly in need of charity, and in the spirit of mutual cooperation during hard times I will offer to send you something for free.
    I hope this helps. Please let me know if you still want to go ahead.


    And this is her final response…..

    It’s not a general policy [to pay for photos]. I was pursuing this for a short, fun post rather than a feature we would budget for. I completely understand your valuing your work. Please disregard the request and again, best of luck.

    TIME Magazine
    1130 Connecticut Ave. NW
    Washington, D.C. 20036
    Office: 202-861-4016
    Cell: 417-569-2757

  286. Excellent article which rang true as only this afternoon I got the ‘can you ‘just’ do some photography for us? ‘Us’ being a very successful, award winning wedding business who have already benefited from my work in the past.
    Please add my name to the list, thank you.

  287. Excellent…you’ve put into word what we would like to say to so many potential clients. In future I’ll just send them to this article…well written !!!

  288. well said. I’ll be directing all requests to this statement from now on.
    Please add me to the list

  289. Brilliant piece, Tony! Very well written. Diplomatic, too It just makes so much sense!
    I get asked about once a week for free work, so I’m not surprised by any of this. Thanks for taking the time to expound on this subject.

  290. I am with you. Well written.

  291. Completely agree with everything said, well done! I will be linking to this everywhere.
    Please add me to the list of signatories.
    Edinburgh, Scotland

    Helen Wallace-Thomson
    Wallace Artworks Photography

  292. How about accepting food as a payment?

  293. You have nailed this perfectly.

    Please add me to the list

    Dinendra Haria
    Photos by Dinendra

  294. Thank you for writing this. Please add me to this list.

  295. Excellent article. We must all do more to educate our clients and the general public – few consider how high our operating costs are, let alone the years we’ve invested in our training and development, and the time we invest editing and perfecting our images. I frequently add educational features to my Blog and I hope more photographers will do likewise. Please add me to the list.

  296. This is perfect. Please add my name to the list.

  297. I am adding my name here, not so much as a photographer but as a digital artist and oil painter also. I just was asked for a free image and am glad to be able to send here. Thank you!

  298. Well written article. Totally agree. Please add my name as a signatory.

  299. Very well-written. Thank-you. Please add my name to this list.

  300. In total agreement. Please add my name as well.

  301. Agree and please add my name to the list.

  302. I recently got “chastised” because I don’t give pictures away for them to have so they can put them on facebook for free.

    But then we pros have to put up with things like this “well, that’s the only way I can get my name out there is by putting it on facebook. and they make comments like, but don’t steal them, this is how I make a living. If your work is good enough or bad enought, ( it will speak for its self).

    Sorry, I don’t work for free. kinda hard to pay for the equipment that puts food on the table.

  303. Leonel Monroy, Jr.

    Thank you for such a well written and truthful article.

  304. Just received the offer to trade for credit from a major university. Not the first time this has ever happened, but at least now I can reply to that ‘offer’ with this well thought out and organized letter.

    Thank you for taking the time to do this.

  305. please add my name, many thanks.

    Dave Jackson

  306. Unfortunately, this is an ongoing dialogue/battle with clients. Thank you for such a clear and succinct text to refer unreasonable clients to. Please add my name to the signatories.

  307. Excellent, though long and many potential clients may not read all of it…
    Well written though!

  308. Brilliant. Please add my name to the list.

  309. This is great. Although I’m just starting out in the field this will be very useful for when I do begin trying to make an income.

  310. Thanks for the convenient link and consise commentary..

    Best Regards,
    Guy Schlacter

  311. Brilliant.
    Please add my name to the list.

  312. Puneet Vijay

    Very Well Said – Please add my name to the list as well

  313. Very well written page covering almost all points that I’ve been fumbling to tell cheap clients – potential or in hand.

    Specializing in food and interior photography for restaurants in India and despite having a flexible chargesheet, client’s standard response is usually, “Woah! You charge that much money! We have a budget constraint and can only pay you this much” And these are owners of places that charge about $50 for any main course (it’s a lot in India!).

    I’ll be sure to include this page in most of my future correspondence with such clients. 🙂

    Thanks Tony, this is invaluable.

  314. This is so true 🙂 You can sign me in 🙂

  315. Please add me to the list:
    Elizabeth R. Rose
    Thank you!

  316. Well said. You can certainly add my name to the list.

  317. yes indeed! please forward this to every photographer you know, but more importantly to every design professional, every magazine editor, art director, ad-man, amateur photographer, webmaster, “non-profit” manager, friend and beggar you meet!

  318. Hi Tony, It’s absolutely true. Please sign me in. Thanks!

  319. Hi guys: I really liked this post, which reflects my continued discussions with many of my clients. Could translate into Spanish for my site? Of course I would link to your page!

  320. Hi Tony,
    I’m absolutely agree with you. I hate people that buy photos with low price and their sell it again for high price in another website.
    Please sign me in. 🙂

  321. Hi … This is absolutely correct … very well said. Whenever it comes to photography assignments the client go short of budget, always !!!!!

  322. Totally agree! If we can’t appreciate our own works, who else can? Add me to the list. I support this!

  323. I want to add that I am finding blogs a large part of the problem, and I see no way to combat them. They rarely give proper photo credits, and they certainly don’t pay, and yet their survival depends on the contributions of photographers. I shot some interiors for a decorator friend, and my images must have appeared on well over a dozen different blogs. Maybe half of those bothered to credit me or include a link to my website. Several of them were happy to put a link when I asked (no money of course), but I was surprised they had no idea who the photographer was. Clearly they are not in the habit of asking. I have many bloggers asking for images, the NY Daily News asking for images, and a high end Middle Eastern magazine asking for images. None of those will pay. Often I don’t even bother to respond. Where does this stop?

  324. Excellent article, well phrased and presented, much better said than the slighted emotions we feel having to state this to customers.

  325. You hit the nail squarely on the head, Tony. Please add my signature.

    Kory Lidstrom
    Fine Image Photography

  326. Agree – please add me to the list

  327. Well done! Feel free to add my name to the list.

  328. Robin Lee

    I am writing here to support your article, sign me up!

  329. Please add my name to the list. Thanks for the good work.

  330. 100%!! Please add me to the list

  331. I agree wholeheartedly. Thanks for creating this.

    Jason O. Watson

  332. Great timing on this article. Lately, I have been encountering clients who are trying to get services/images for peanuts if not totally free. This should make potential clients, buyers and agencies think twice before they even con us pro photographers into giving our services/images for free or even low-balling our worth in exchange of exposures and credits. This will also make beginning photographers think hard before giving away their images and services for free and realize that they are ruining the road to their future. Kudos to the writer Tony Wu!

  333. I’d like to add my signature to the thousands you’ve got already. Your points apply equally to journalism (I’m a freelancer who considers herself 75% words and 25% images); we’re all fighting the same mindset.

  334. Excellent article and so much of it totally true.

  335. Congratulations! I’m with you. Add me to the list if you wish.

    Valerio Berdini

  336. Count me in. This is great

    Valerio Berdini

  337. Thanks to Tino Soriano and other photographers for sharing the above text!

  338. Thank you for the excellent well written post. Please add me to the list.

  339. Very well expressed. Please add me to the list also.
    Do you have anyone working on a Spanish translation? If not, let me know and I’ll see what I can do, as I live and work in Spain. Please write me an e-mail directly regarding the translation. Thanks!

  340. Please add me also. 🙂 It is perfect.

  341. Thank you very much for this! Will definitely have some clients read this. 🙂

  342. Thank you! This fine articulation is a game changer for me. Great Work!

  343. Great post. I constantly argue the same point, especially with charity events, in which case I point to the following PDF ( ) . Charge or barter.

  344. Excellent article! Written in such a professional and non-sarcastic way that it really gets the point across without offending anyone. I am a surf photographer, which means my equipment is VERY expensive and heavy! I have to research swells, tides, winds, etc. to decide which spot is likely to have the best waves on any given day. I spend huge amounts of time driving from beach to beach to do surf checks, spend lots on gas and parking, walk long distances up and down cliffs and across soft sand lugging very heavy equipment, then spend hours shooting (I need to make enough money to pay for Botox since I am always staring into blaring sun). Once I get home I spend countless hours sorting, uploading and then the time-consuming process of editing the photos. I charge $10.00 for a high res digital download, so nobody can say I am gouging. I get lots of fan mail from surfers who love my photos, but, these same surfers EXPECT me to give them their shots for free! And, the sad truth is that if I say no, there are dozens of other guys who are happy to give their photos away. Many kids “friend” me on Facebook, only because they hope I will post their surf shots on my Wall and then they can “use” them for free. I can’t begin to tell you how many charities I donate my work to (very long days shooting and many days editing afterwards) who then provide MY work to dozens of websites and publications and I get nothing (the charity gets “exposure” and I get “photo credit” sometimes). I love what I do and because I appear so happy at my work, far too many people think there is no “work” involved and therefore, no need to pay me for my time. The worst situation I have run into is when low budget/no budget surf magazines solicit photographers to provide high quality surf photos for free and then they get many of the photo credits mixed up! It is a very bad feeling when I open a magazine and see one of my photos with someone else’s name on it, but it is even WORSE when a publication puts MY name on someone else’s photo. Another wise photographer once told me, “Free only begets more free”.

  345. Well said, and well done Mr. Wu…
    Thanks a bunch!
    Greets from Central Spain

  346. thanks …traslate to spanish!!!

  347. Merci de défendre la profession…

  348. Yes! Perfectly stated!!!

    Pleas add my name to your list.

  349. Agree with this !

    We donate back to charity alot when we do events, and sometimes will give the odd image for free if it benefits us.

  350. Thank You posted on my group page on Facebook hoping many fellow professionals also read post forward and follow.

  351. Very well done, I agree wholeheartedly! Our field of work is no different than any other, we expect to be paid for our time, experience and talent.

  352. Excellent for all creative professionals.

  353. Excellent article! I hope that people who hire photographers will read this, not just photographers.

  354. Magníficamente bien explicado.Con contundencia pero sin perder la educación.Entre todos podremos convencer a los clientes que esta profesión no es solo darle al botón de una máquina fotográfica.

  355. Great article, it’s all true. I hope more “Photographers” take this guide and use it as it should be. A strict guide. Too many point and shooters simply handing out images just to become a friend or post pictures to a forum or facebook have left us with crowded sidelines at drag racing events in my area. There is no “exposure” to handing out images and taking away from the “official” track photographer. Stand your ground.

  356. Spanish Traslation in:

    This is a Spanish Group in FaceBook fighting against the abusive clauses in the photographer’s contracts. Below the traslation in Spanish.

  357. Erik Meza

    Gracias por la traducción al Español . Por mi parte hare circular esta pagina para hacer conciencia en muchos fotógrafos.


  358. Thumbs up… big time !!!
    I’m with you and please add me to the list, if you wish.

    Thanks, Ivan

  359. Couldn’t agree with this anymore. The point about ‘free’ and ‘credit’ totally hit the nail on the head.

  360. Santosh Verma

    Thank you for taking the time to distill and express the experience of so many hundreds from photographers and aritsts. Thank you!
    Please permit me to use your template and to quote you whenever relevant and useful.

  361. Absolutely. This should come with every new DSLR sold. Listen up kids.

  362. This is perfect. Thanks for your time to put this together.
    Just had a few photos used in two publications in NYC that I was to get paid for and now they won’t even return my emails. New York Times Mag and New York Mag. !!! Beware !!!

    • Kat

      Send certified letters to each. Give them 30 days to remedy the situation. Let them know you’ll file a warrant in debt in small claims court against them if they do not pay.

  363. Thank you for this… love it!!!

  364. Thank you for letting us use this. I’m going to blog it now.

  365. I once got a call from the organizer of a large engineering conference who offered me $5 to put my photo on the cover of the conference brochure, on the poster, throughout the conference. Five dollars. “Photos are only $1 on iStock.” she said. “Then I guess you should buy your photo from iStock.” I said.

  366. Brilliantly articulated!! This is amazing! Thank you for sharing and letting us use it.

  367. Roark Masbad

    Thanks for sharing!

  368. Kat

    Thank you for the article. I am sharing the link.
    In addition to being a photographer, I am also a copy editor. So I cannot help myself, but…
    Please put all commas and periods inside quotation marks. And remember, there is no “judge” in “judgment.” Re: “Taking snapshots may only involve pressing the camera shutter release, but creating images requires skill, experience and judgement.” {cringe}

    • Tony Wu

      Hi Kat,

      Thanks for the tips. I guess that’s why I’m not a copy editor!

      When there are dual usages/ spellings, I tend to go with the Brits, since they invented the language 🙂

      • Thanks Tony – you got there before me! In these international times it is really tricky navigating the cultural niceties of language. (I agree on the punctuation, though!) Perhaps we should all shoot in black & white to avoid referring to colo(u)r…

      • Tony Wu

        I was never good with punctuation, but I did take Kat’s advice to heart, and just corrected a sentence in a draft of something else I was working on. Who says you can’t teach old dogs new tricks?

  369. Perfect and so true thanks again for spelling it out . art brewer

  370. I agree too !

    Where do I sign ? ^^

  371. Guillermo Arias

    Gracias Tony

  372. Excellent! I’d love to be on the signature list.

  373. Great article! Glad this was put up to educate the public 🙂
    Where do we sign?

  374. I agree with all that you have said above. It’s the same in my field as a professional writer and editor and a music and entertainment writer for magazines (Rolling Stone, FHM etc). It’s great that you have shared this information as it applied to many of the arts field. Thank you for taking the time to outline this.

  375. Excellent summing up. I’d be pleased to be added to the list as well

  376. Well explained and very balanced. I agree with everything here.

  377. Nicely put. I don’t think a lot of people really understand how much time and effort goes in to photography.

    Being an easy to pick up difficult to master skill, people tend to not realise or possibly appreciate the finer points of photography.

    I’d be happy to be added to the list.

  378. Text originally written in English by Tony Wu.
    read on

    tito is a mercenary that does not know the word solidarity … not only is a mercenary tito tony wu but also seems to be the original author of the text

    when he says: “Especially in projects and efforts related to areas such as education, social issues and natural resource conservation. It is fair to say that in many cases we would like to have the time and resources to help more than just sending pictures. ”
    I firmly believe that when it comes to education issues, social issues and conservation of natural resources when we have more responsibility to report, help and give our photos without asking anything in return ….. the contrary would be good for us to help NGOs on all who make more than superhuman efforts which nThe ye that are there do not earn salaries but make time for their families, their jobs, their vacation to help a company better …. . if they have “time” and want to report this type of mercenaries and disseminate this thank you
    The views of this kind seem to me contemptible, and the attitude that I really did antisolidaria question if not totally opposite thing to do …. people like this is what feeds the big global business news, are the vultures who do not want to end to wars, hunger, trafficking in arms and persons as they are the business ends.

    So not only is a mercenary tito tony wu but also seems to be the original author of the text

    • Tony Wu


      No one is preventing you from working for free as much and as often as you’d like. By all means, it’s your choice.

      Attacking people and calling them mercenaries that feed big global business news and “vultures who do not want to end wars, hunger, trafficking in arms” says more about you than it does about your targets.

      Take a chill pill and have a good holiday


  379. Very well written explanation, please add me to the list.

  380. Andre Mouton

    Well said!

  381. Absolutely spot on. I completely agree also

  382. I am a budding professional photographer and have, literally, just started doing professional work. Already, I have had a few people ask for free pictures to ‘build my portfolio and get free advertising’. It is very frustrating to have people expecting you to just give them freebies. Like someone said earlier, because you like to do it it doesn’t mean it’s not work. Equipment, websites, etc. cost money and time. This article can be a helpful tool (to people such as myself) to explain why our work is valued and comes at a price. I can get extremely frustrated (and admittedly, outright angry) at times and lose the ability to articulate well. That is where this article can be handy, at least for me.

    Example: My husband and I went to a wedding party for one of his colleagues. As we were sitting at one of the tables the new wife of said colleague approached me and said “Oh, are you taking pictures?” (as my camera was sitting out in front of me on the table). I told her I had it with me to take a few photos of the people we (my husband and I) knew and some of the landscape and such, then she went on about her business. A week later I received a message that she was wanting to know when I was going to send her photos to her and that I was taking too long. My jaw completely dropped! I replied trying to explain the situation to her nicely and received nothing back. A month later, I found out that she had started to harass my husband to try and get the photos from him because I was ‘being ridiculous’. Thus came the outright anger…grrr

    Please put my signature on the list. And thank you for the article.

  383. So true, over the last year we are finding new advertising customers coming to us for their work. Doing it in-house was not producing a magazine level product. Old adage “YOU GET WHAT YOU PAY FOR”

  384. 500 guys agreeing so hopefully a small dint in the free images brigade & a thumbs up for the industry. Merry Christmas everyone…

  385. EXcellent. Professional photographers really need more collective actions such as this one.

  386. Brilliantly said Tony! Thanks a million for being our voice!

  387. I’d like to have my name added to the list, Jared Krauss or J.E. Krauss.

    I’m not a professional….yet! 😉 but I’m working on it.


  388. A.Stoll

    Thank you so much for this. Can I borrow this template?

    • Tony Wu

      By all means! If you’re posting online, please link back to this site, so other people can find the text and translated versions.

  389. Thank you for finally saying this, and please add me to the list!

  390. and more I just can’t think of,. good work.

  391. Samer Momani

    This is so true!! Please add me to the list. Thank you.

  392. Photography one

    Very well written and very true, I love to help people out if the cause benefits but our bills need to be paid too.

    All the best,

  393. Truth!

    Please add my name to the list..

  394. Thank you for articulating this point so clearly.
    Please add my name to the list.

    Bruce Leventhal

  395. Mark A. Krauss


    Please add my name to the list…

  396. danceswithmoths

    Please add my name to the list
    (Cynthia Mead)

  397. As someone who is trying to take his love of photography to the next level. I have found all the realities of your article to be so true over the last year. Luckily for me i have a my regular job and my photography is a additional endeavor. I seriously do not see how most professional photographers break even as a business more or less make a profit from it. With that being said i know that most photographers are not doing it for the money but because they enjoy doing it. Good luck and continued success to all.

  398. Tony, you have managed to write what many of us think every time we’re asked for freebies. I specially like this section [Getting “Credit” Doesn’t Mean Much]. When you’re starting out seeing your name on your photos seems like a lot but in fact it’s requirement (as you mention). I am guilty of giving away a lot of good work. It wasn’t until I noticed that I was getting zero business from these “projects” that I stopped.
    Please add me to the list and thanks for allowing us to use this text. I’m sure I’ll use it very soon

  399. Hi. I had a request for a Free image of an old school on my Web Site. As an older photographer (+50years in business) I had taken the requested image
    in 1960/61 and the building was gone…. long time back. The school in its
    present building was setting up a Web Site to show the history of school.
    The school is moveing to a new location . I requested again for no fee , for my Web Site , to record pictures of the new building shots of a
    modern school room. (room no children) The move to the new building
    is soon, and so far no responce nor have I any up date
    on the use of my picture.
    With a high street location we get many requests “A Donation for…..”
    No Chance.

  400. Very well said! I donate photos to my hobbies/causes. I have also been the victim of internet theft of my photos, several of which have gone viral. That hurts! I have seen my photos used on websites without credits given, my watermark removed. The public can be clueless. Thankfully, I have a passion for photography, whether I sell or not.
    Please add my name to your list. Thank you…I will share on my FB page.

  401. A very good article.
    Add my name to the list .

  402. i totally agree on this statement!

  403. Please add Images Dominica to the list

  404. Well said! Please add me to the list.

  405. I concur. I absolutely love what I do and couldn’t imagine life any other way, however, it’s a livelihood and not a hobby. For that reason, I operate as a business. I do donate a ton of hours and work to worthy causes but I do (of course) expect payment for all other clients.
    My example for people telling me they’ll give credit is, “I don’t ask a dentist to keep my teeth nice and in exchange when people tell me I have a nice smile, I’ll tell them it’s because of the dentist.” That’s a joke. People respect that profession and expect to pay … so why would offering credit be any different for a photographer? I’d prefer payment and credit. =)

    Plus, last I checked, I can’t pay my bills with, “Did you see where I was published last month?”

  406. Agree,Please add me to the list.

  407. I absolutely concur, Tony. I worked several years in a different field, then retired, in part, so I could move to a more creative venue. I found being: 1) an entrepreneur; 2) in a service industry; and, 3) a business that functions by way of “intellectual properties”, gave the impression the service being performed was cost-free. I am always amazed by folks who want something for nothing…and feel they are entitled to it.

    Please add me to your list.

  408. Laura


    thank you for this. I’ve read just about everyone’s comments!

    What does it mean to be added to the list?

    • Matthew Oldfield

      Hi Laura – Tony is on a boat at the moment, I am looking after the site. ‘Adding to the list’ just means we will add your name to the long list of signatories you see at the bottom of the post. An expression of support…

  409. Exactly!! Please add my name to the list!

  410. Thank you for this post and please add my name to this list

  411. Clint Crawford ( Mystic Light Photography)

    Amen, please add my name to the list.

  412. Absolutely! This is the stand that every professional photographer should take. Thanks for the webpage.

  413. Thanks Tony, you can add my name to the list also.

  414. I am a freelance photographer.

    I love the comment “we are on a tight budget”, “bla, bla, bla” etc……. Sorry, but your excuse for not paying in full doesn’t cut it.

    Have your rates and stick to your guns. It’s better to walk away and not gain a new client, then to have gained a new client and spend now and into the future working for them for next to nothing an a cut rate.

    They wont appreciate you and your, they’ll push you harder for less, also your next client will want to pay you less then what they paid.

    Thus begins the endless cycle down, down, down to the point where now they come up to you and go “Hey, if you shoot my images for free it’ll look great for your portfolio”.

    Don’t do it.

  415. Thanks Tony, this is excellent. We’ve all been there, repeatedly. I’ll share this via my Faceberk, sorry Facebook page. I arrived here via LinkedIn, Diane Harrison’s blog

    I have, and will provide work for free to support things I feel are worth supporting. The key here is the phrase “things I feel are worth supporting”. One thing I’ve found with some “charity” pests is they can’t understand one of the reasons I won’t give work to them for free is I am ethically opposed to what they do. They choose to forget the right to dissent applies to everyone, not just them.

  416. Thanks so Much for sharing this! Posted it on facebook aswell! Love it!

  417. Very True.. Ive been in the same situation countless times, if not this it would be haggling. ( they woul ask my price for such a job and before I even tell them my asking price, they would mention out other people,, because they have a friend who’s willing to do the job for just this amount.) no respect at all.. When ever I come across such people I just turn around and tell them politely that I think it would be much better If you just give the job to person you know, after all they know you better than me and you already know what to expect from his work…. Great article, thanks, I needed that off load.. 🙂

  418. pls. Add me to your list..
    And can I post a link of this on my site?
    Many thanks

  419. Fantastic response to an everyday question. Thank you for addressing this challenge. Please add me to your list. Cheers – Karen

  420. Agreed. Please add my name as well.

  421. I’d love to be added to this list.

  422. Jeremy

    I am a photographer just starting out professionally, and I agree wholeheartedly with what you wrote. The only free work I do is that of compiling enough for a decent portfolio so I can showcase my work. But now I’m charging, mostly because I can’t afford to not get paid.

  423. Add me to the list!

    I may post a link to this on our blog!
    Excellent article!

  424. This hopefully will enlighten consumers as well as photographers….

  425. Need to have it translated in Dutch as well as it is so true! Thank you and add me to list please.

  426. Wow! For years I have been looking for a way to not be destructive in my responses. You covered it! Add me to your list and thank you!

  427. Please add me to the list as well. Really well written and like others, I’ll be referring this to others.