How to tell if your images are being stolen

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Long before everyone had a blog, there were photographer’s sharing their images on their websites.  We’d share them on those flash sites that were right click protected, and assume they were mostly safe there.  I eventually learned how to get around all that (if I wanted to save an image for inspiration purposes–kindof like a digital “pin board”). I was on a forum where I heard about other photographers images being “stolen” and not just by clients who didn’t want to pay, but by other “so called photographers” using their images as their own (not to mention companies in Germany using their images for marketing). I’ll admit, I was completely shocked that someone would have such a lack of integrity to do such a thing. It leaves my jaw to the floor.  The audacity to steal an image, erase the watermark, and slap their own logo on there is mind boggling. This is happening with ideas on blogs as well, taking pictures off of ones blog, and sharing on their own as if it is their own.  I’ve had a few of my unique ideas (not pictures) “thrifted” without any credit, and it stings, but what can I do about that? It is nice that if you are re-creating something you saw, to link back to where you originally found it…not pretend like it was your own idea.

With pinterest, images are shared all over the place, and it’s wonderful and fun!  I’ve said before…I watermark each image just for that reason.  I try to be un-obtrusive with my watermarking, don’t like to do it on the face, or BIG across the center, but if I WERE to do that, it would be a lot less likely to get taken.  (How obnoxious is this big one?)


I don’t know of any stealing with my images, and I hope I don’t have to deal with this (as I only started paying attention to my watermarking in the past year).  I was on facebook the other night and saw that a fellow photographer had this happen to them and I learned some tips I wanted to pass along. Click “view full post” below for what to do:

If you want to see if your images are somewhere they shouldn’t be, there are a few tracking tips that can search for them.  The only tedious part is you’ll have to upload image by image.  So pick your top ten images that you think are “popular” and upload them. This basically searches for a carbon copy of the image you upload and scans the web to see where it is located. I did this with a few images, and they were right where they should be.

2 ways to search for your images:

1. Go to Google search. Click the Image tab. Click on the little picture of the camera in the search box. Upload an image.

2. This site:

If you see some images where they shouldn’t be.  Take screen shots, and save them. Don’t immediately notify the site, but take legal action.  I don’t have experience here (thank goodness) but watermarks are a copyright, and taking it off is an infringement.

Steps to try to prevent your images being taken:

I tend to want my logo/watermark to be an afterthought.  A gentle reminder that it was “I” who took it, come to me if you want pics, click back to me if you want to see more…So I’ll put my logo in the corner, in the white of the sky (like the above shot), on the cement.  But it is much easier to get rid of it in those spots.  Either by cropping or simple photoshopping techniques.

By putting your watermark on a textured background close to the main subject will lessen the likelihood of this happening. It is much harder to “erase” a logo on a multi colored background like these:


Though cropping could still occur…a better idea would be to move the logo closer to the face.

I hope this doesn’t make me sound like too much of an alarmist, but just some things to think about.  And I’m sure it’s few and far between, but just be aware.

Spread the word…if the bad guys realize that others know how to track them down…they might be less likely to steal! I just added a “pin it” button, but it doesn’t appear to be working.  “PIN ” the first image to pass it on…


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