Protecting Your Images Online

The need to protect your images online cannot be over-emphasized. This is fast becoming a recurring decimal these days – A situation whereby the established brands steal works from the upcoming artists, publish and take the glory without any form of compensation to the original author. Each day, more and more people are gaining access to the internet. To get noticed, you need to share your works, that’s about the easiest way people can get to notice you and subscribe to your services. When you eventually publish your works, what stops others from taking your work and claiming it’s theirs? Nothing. We can’t prevent them from doing a screenshot or outrightly downloading the image off the internet, but we can make a conscious effort (no matter how small) to keep our images safe.



The best form of protection while dealing with copyright infringement is to register your work with the Copyright Commission/Office as it applies in your country. All you need to do is to head over to their office or online portal, create an account, pay the requisite fees and you’re done. The downside of this is that as a photographer or digital content creator, you’ll most likely be releasing content daily and that would cost a lot of money keeping up with the copyright protection of all content produced.


If you’re using a Nikon D7100 camera which has a 24MP sensor with a resolution at 6000 x 4000, it’ll be advisable to publish an image size of between 1080px and 1200px on the longest size. In that way, the file size is reduced and the image quality is still retained for online viewing.


Applying watermarks to your images is the most conspicuous and easiest way of protecting your images online. The standard method used by photographers is to either add your name to the bottom/side of the image or better still a small logo. This tells the viewer that the image was created by you and belongs to you. It also doesn’t distract the viewer from appreciating your work. The downside of this is that any thief can easily clone this watermark out and claim ownership of the image.

Another type of watermark that’s usually adopted by those who want full control and protection of their images is to emboss the watermark boldly over the image. This method of watermarking can be seen on sites that hold stock images for sale like Shutterstock. The downside of this is that the watermark distracts the viewer from appreciating the work of art.


This is an area I’ll advise every photographer to invest some time in. According to the International Press Telecommunication Council (IPTC), Metadata is a set of data that describes or gives information about other data. In this case, Photo metadata is data that gives information about an image. This data can be passed on with the image from one application to another irrespective of the format. Metadata can be stored internally; embedded in the image file in formats like JPEG or TIFF or stored in a sidecar file such as XMP as in RAW files.

The Photo metadata consists of 3 categories,

Administrative: – This covers the identification of the creator, it’sDate of creation and location, contact information of licensors of the image and other technical details.

Descriptive: – This gives information about the visual content such as headline, title, captions and keywords.

Rights: – This covers copyright information and underlying rights in the visual content; including model and property rights and rights usage terms.

I’ll suggest you follow this tutorial closely and ensure this is incorporated in your workflow henceforth.


If you’re passionate about keeping track of your portfolio online then Google Alerts may just be the most efficient tool to utilise. This service enables you to set up keyword triggers that send email notifications based on the criteria you set up. In this case, your images.

From my research, a random search using a keyword on google can pick up images with that name or with the keyword embedded in the metadata. So as a photographer, you could start by naming your images using a specific prefix or custom naming style. Have the names embedded in the keywords metadata and also in the file name. Then while setting up Google Alerts, put the keyword in a quote; for example ” John Doe” so the search weeds out any false readings and then delivers it’s findings to you daily, weekly or as it happens.

With these simple steps stated clearly above, you can prevent your photography from being used illegally online without your knowledge. Always remember to input your metadata and watermark your images. Sending Google Alerts on a surveillance mission would cost you nothing itsbenefits are huge.