The Truth About The Fear of Getting Your Photos Stolen

Pro Tip: Sometimes a very wide angle lens can help with photojournalistic work. Use caution though and don't get too close up to a subject.

Pro Tip: Sometimes a very wide angle lens can help with photojournalistic work. Use caution though and don’t get too close up to a subject.

Novice photographers worry all the time about whether or not their images will get stolen. Whenever I talk to people about building a photo website, one of the most commonly asked questions after mobile design is how to protect your images from being stolen. The truth is: you can’t. In the age of screenshotting and going into a page’s source code to get the images, getting someone’s images from their website is incredibly simple if you have moderate HTML knowledge.

The absolute best way is to keep them offline. But if you want exposure, then you have to take the risk. In the chance that your images are stolen, hopefully you’ve taken the right step to tracking them. The best practices are to name your images with your name, duplicate that into the meta keywords, add that into the artist and copyright sections, and to do a bunch of other methods that we list here.

But above all of this, we want to tell beginners to do one thing: don’t worry. The absolute total truth is going to hurt, but you need to hear it.

Ready? Okay.

In order for you to worry about someone stealing your images for their own commercial usage, you need to create a body of work that someone will want to steal for their own commercial usage. What does that mean? It means that the more photos that you shoot of your cat or your food, the less of a chance they have to be stolen. Why? Because there are loads and loads of cat and food photos out there. But if someone will want to steal yours for commercial usage, then the image has to have something very special about it.

Yes, that hurts. But it’s true.

Did you shoot a photo of your kids running around and think that it’s a great photo? That’s nice. Everyone in your close personal circle may think so too. But why would someone want to use that image to represent their brand at all? Did you shoot a cool image in the streets of the big city? That’s cool. But think about this: who would want to use that image? Does it have value to someone potentially rather than just being hung on a wall and printed?

Well, these are things you should consider.

We’re not saying this to belittle anyone: indeed we all started out at that point and we all progress at different stages. But instead, you should focus more on creating a more unique and better body of work that people will want to steal. Then, and only then, should you worry about getting your photos stolen.

And by that point, you’ll have a better idea of how to deal with it.