Canon UK's Instagram Account Caught Messaging Photographers Asking for Free Image Use

Canon UK's Instagram Account Caught Messaging Photographers Asking for Free Image Use

In newly released screenshots, Canon UK’s official Instagram has been caught messaging photographers in an attempt to use their images free of charge. The verified account admitted that Canon “regularly gathers images to potentially use on [their] social accounts.”

The post appeared in a Facebook group designed for photographers to seek advice from industry peers. The photographer who shared the information, who I’ve chosen not to name, has posted a screenshot of a message from Canon UK’s Instagram.  The message also requested details of the image in question, such as where it was taken, what camera and lens were used, and the shutter and aperture settings.

Quite why a company of Canon’s standing feels the need to message photographers on such an informal basis remains a mystery. I’d like to think – being a camera manufacturer and all – that Canon would have adequate budget to acquire such images or to pay to shoot their own.

Commenters of the post have suggested it may be the work of an external social media company. One drew particular attention to the phrasing of "We found this work and absolutely love it," suggesting it seems reminiscent of a contractor tasked with finding free content for Canon. Others took a more light-hearted approach, writing “Free Exposure in exchange for a Free 1Dx Mk ii please :-)” and “We found this Canon camera and absolutely love it, we wondered if you’d be happy to share it?”

It’s somewhat of a catch-22, because many photographers would undoubtedly allow the usage, because they’re honored to have received recognition from the manufacturers of the very camera they’re using and undoubtedly because they’d hope that allowing such usage could potentially lead to some kind of partnership with the brand. Of course, it’s likely fair to say most will never end up hearing from Canon again.

Should photographers receiving this message be quoting a usage fee?

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Alex Cooke's picture

At the very least, offer to send some Canon swag like a t-shirt and one of the nice CPS straps or something.

JT Blenker's picture

I have two of those straps! They're pretty dang nice.

Alex Cooke's picture

Same! It's my favorite strap.

EL PIC's picture

Camera Manufacturers do not value Photographers work.
They only care about equipment purchases and still want free photos.
And the Beat Goes On ..

Black Z Eddie .'s picture

Apple, meet Oranges.


weird anti-Sony flex in a story about Canon, but ok.

Pieter Batenburg's picture

Jeah, well. Business as usual for some people. Bashing Sony as your lifework.

Black Z Eddie .'s picture

Steal? They're telling you up front what they may intend to do with them.

Black Z Eddie .'s picture

What are you, 8? You're the one that posted the Sony disclaimer which explains what they intend to do with.

Black Z Eddie .'s picture

Lol, you just keep going in circles.

In other words, the agreement button is on the same page as that part of the disclaimer. I'm glad you understand that now.

John Tyson's picture

But you'll get so much exposure having your photo on Canon's feed...

L Bakker's picture

They don't guarantee that it will be used on any feed. " potentially use...".

Tony Clark's picture

Good for the photographer for posting their note. This from the company that reneged their shoot with one of their own Lighting Ambassador because she didn’t have enough Instagram followers. They also seem to want to recoup all their R&D expenses from their new mirrorless within the first year. And they’re trolling for free content?

Mikalai Bachkou's picture

My photos in the same way were published in Russian and Belarusian instagram Canon accounts.

Alexander Petrenko's picture

Remunerated? Get an influx of the clients?

Black Z Eddie .'s picture

Someone/something big (companies, celebrities, etc), yes, I would quote a usage fee.

Guy Incognito's picture

"One drew particular attention to the phrasing of "We found this work and absolutely love it," suggesting it seems reminiscent of a contractor tasked with finding free content for Canon."

What difference does that make? If Canon is "tasking" contractors to find free content then they are still guilty of trying to freeload. Well, OK, I guess they are not only guilty of freeloading but being too cowardly to do it themselves and outsourcing the task.

When the camera companies themselves don't even value photographer's hard work it isn't difficult to see why so many in this field despair for the financial future.

Benoit Pigeon's picture

Contractor has to deal with the payment if asked for I guess? A friend of mine was asked recently to sell a picture to a third party for a company's ad. They din't want to pay more than half. My fiend didn't review the price and ended ignoring the contact after a couple texts. Then the third party paid him in full when he realized that it was the only way to get that image.

Guy Incognito's picture

They didn't approach the photographer in a way which implies they are interested in acquiring the image through a conventional purchase or licensing arrangement.

Given the amount of content floating around online, if the photographer asked for payment the little weasel behind the account would just continue messaging people until they found some schmuck willing to part with their work for free. I doubt he'd have to look for long.

Black Rock's picture

The #1 camera manufacturer is stealing photos ? Oh gosh, ...

Anders Madsen's picture

I’m all for a bit of Canon-bashing, but equating “asking for permission” with “stealing” is downright idiotic.

Jonathan Brady's picture

If Canon wants free images, maybe fstoppers could do them a favor and direct them to unsplash

Jeff McCollough's picture

Yeah because Fstoppers likes to use Unsplash photos

Pink Ninja's picture

absolutely Canon should pay. There is a prevailing idea surrounding digital files that they are merely a click.

Phill Holland's picture

Slightly dubious of "exposure" I've seen accounts with huge followers directly mentioning others, and I haven't seen massive follower explosions in those accounts mentioned.

If a brand had built a strong image of being incredibly picky and having excellent standards of quality I'd have a second thought about exposure, if they could guaranteed their exposure would lead to X result, or the last person they exposed became as famous as David Bailey.

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