When Asked to Delete Photos, Just Have This Image Handy

Having this image on your camera might get you out of a situation where someone illegally demands that you delete a photograph. You can download a higher res version here.

Sorry No Data Found (via Mzbali Photography via Reddit)

  • Anonymous

    Alternatively just stand up for your rights and say no.

  • Amy

    Fantastic idea!

  • Fart

    might be better if it looked like a real message a camera would have

  • Dan

    I agree.. say NO.  I just shot a concert, had the promoter come up to me afterwards and demand I sign a contract handing over copyrights to my photos.  I refused.  Then they demanded that I delete all photos that I took.  Again, I refused. 

    Photographers need to stand up for their rights or risk not having any rights to stand up for. 

    If worse comes to worse and your camera is confiscated and your photos illegally deleted, you can always recover them with a data recovery program.  I had my CF card fail once with 358 photos on it, used “PC Inspector” data recovery and was able to recover 354 of them intact.

  • Daniel Austin Hoherd

    I definitely agree that it’s better to stand up for your rights and say no.  Frankly, if there was a crime committed, deletion of the images is destruction of evidence.

    Also, if you really are worried about this kind of thing, just carry a second card, then you genuinely won’t have any photos.

    Lastly, every photographer should be ready to recover photos that have been deleted.  It’s probably worth taking some time to give it a practice run to see how it goes.  Even if you don’t have to recover them over something like this, you may have to recover them from an accidental deletion or format. Here’s a hint: step 1 is to make an raw copy of memory card.

  • One

    If someone forces you to delete photos without a court order it counts as assault (at least it does in the UK).

  • Sam Chua

    I usually delete it and then switch cards. As soon as I get home, I do an Image Rescue.

  • EZ

    Why not both?  In our dirty world, when it matters most those with the power probably won’t take no for an answer.

    If no doesn’t seem to be working, or things are a bit heated where debating the issue could land you somewhere you don’t want to be, subterfuge is a good back up.

  • Melo

    What are you doing that you frequently have to delete images at someone else’s behest?

  • kikei

    If your camera can take 2 cards, set up the second card to make a copy of all the pics you take. That way, if the person won’t take ‘no’ for an answer, or if the card is forcibly taken, you have a backup.

  • Bhorn

    Eye-fi card and a mobile hotspot: your images are instantly backed up to the web. Or, if it is important that other people see your images as quickly as possible with just a simple preference change.

  • Through Painted Eyes

    This is usually possible, however in some hairy situations, deleting photos is the only option. I once had 3 guys pushing me and threatening to break my camera over my head – I would like to see you civilly stand up for your rights in that situation. A photo like this could come in handy. 

  • Andreas Puhl

    I did the same thing at more than one occasion. Once I was in Northern Africa and a bunch of people with assault rifles came up to me and demanded to delete my pictures (even though I didn’t even take any there). Say no and you might end up in a cell or with a broken jaw. Say “Oh yes, sorry. I will delete it immediately” and rescue the card later and you are fine.

  • 9inchnail

    Many cameras can’t display photos that have not been shot with them. They are cameras after all, not digital picture frames.

  • KevinM

    Most, if not all cameras, will play JPEGs. In a way, digital cameras are like digital picture frames capable of displaying JPEG images.

  • Boris Georgiev

    I use Recuva to restore the deleted files.It is free and it works very good!

  • MG

    in a Nikon (d300 at least) you can hide photos.

  • Rick Bennett

    So how does this ruse work?
    Photographer: [shoot] [shoot] [shoot]
    Thug: Hey you can’t take pictures here.
    Photographer: Oh, my bad. Let me just delete those images. [Somehow makes sure thug can’t see display, scrolls through hundreds of images to find this ‘fake’ message.]
    Thug: What the fuck are you doing? I said delete them?
    Photographer: I am deleting them… Give me one moment… [Finally figures out that he accidentally deleted this image during the last download] [Photographer selects delete all from the menu.]
    Thug: good, now get out of here.
    Photographer: [runs home, changes shorts, and recovers photos using photorec or similar tool]

  • Igogosh

    one more trick for Sony shooters. cameras with two card slots can be quickly switched from one to the other with no data. But I’d still stick to STANDING YOUR GROUND! Kick ‘em in the nuts if they even think of assaulting you and RUN!

  • Andreas

    if you are able to set a favorite picture (picture that is always displayed first, or something similar that behaves the same way) you could make it “no memory card found” in the style which the camera uses.

  • Anonymous

    If such a situation arrives, I’ll show them my fist, not this image =)

  • Bob Dunkin

    I prefer to combine the “Stand your Ground” with deletion and photo recovery.  Basically…stand your ground until just before you feel you will be arrested, give in (make them think they won), and FORMAT the card.  Photo recovery can still work after a format (at least on my Canon, on ONE of the format types).  Don’t forget to switch cards.  Also, try it out first a few times…see how much you can recover.  


    Take a pic of the higher res image. ;)

  • Roger Benson

    And nobody’s noticed the image above isn’t there anymore?

  • Anonymous

    Pretty sure you need permission to shoot at a concert if you plan to use them commercially.

  • Anonymous

    I was shooting some photos of a fire when I lived in the Middle East, was then approached by the police and given the hard word, thankfully I saw them coming and managed to swap out the memory card for a plastic dummy card, this picture would have been handy if I didn’t have time to swap the cards. saying NO doesn’t always work unfortunately. 

  • IanWorthington

    Any idea if you can do that on a 7D?

  • Mopeljenny

    This is very helpful site

  • Anonymous

    Tried this one.
    Installed relatively easily and quickly. It wold be good for someone that
    wants to fix smaller areas of photos but I’ll stick with CS5 for the bigger
    stuff as this one seemed to leave blotches and streaks.

  • Tom Waugh

    There are plenty of free programmes floating around the web to recover deleted data from storage devices. I use Recuva or PCInspector. Sometimes one will find images that the other has missed and vice-versa.

    One thing that I do is to format AND wipe my cards before a job. I do this because the software doesn’t discriminate.  If I have to recover images from a card, the software will find EVERY image that is saveable on the card. In my case this would have meant waiting a long time to get images going back several years!

    Using Fileshredder (  ), you can wipe the free space on almost all types of storage devices and this means that when you do a rescue job, the programme only finds those most recent files.