How to detect through Google that your photograph was stolen?

Stolen photo

If you are a photographer and offer your photos on your website for sale, there are always some who know how to abuse your portfolio. Today I will show you how to find out where all over the Internet your pictures are hanging. Then you just easily check whether it is with your permission or without. I also will tell you how I proceed when I discover that my photo was stolen.

Let´s first look at how to do it. In this case I use one of my favourite photos, just for interest, in this case I found that it was used without my permission on more than 40 websites, and the picture was taken just a year ago.

Stolen photos on other websites

I was surprised how many times per year it is possible to steal one photograph. I found more than 40 cases.

 Procedure how to do it

Open the search and click the top right to browse through images.

Search photos google

Next to the search field, click on the camera icon.

Camera iconPhoto upload google

You have the option either to enter the URL of the image or simply upload the photo from your computer, I chose this option. After uploading an image, the search will start automatically and you can start tracing. The results appear as follows.

Photo search results

Results of the search and the location where the photo is used. Thus you can easily contact the perpetrator.

Now what?

First I want to say that if your photos were stolen by several people,  this shouldn´t be seen only as a negative aspect. You can look at it in a way that your photograph is really good and you can be proud of yourself that it´s yours.

The first group, harmless thieves

However, this has a number of negatives. Personally, I divided photos thieves into two groups. One is that “harmless”. These are people who put my photo as profile on social media or they put it on their website blog or, also happened the case, when my picture was used in the video on youtube. I call this harmless theft because these people do not sell the photo and they do not try to harm you, on the contrary they promote your work on.

In this case I personally choose the tactics that I politely write the author of website an e-mail thanking that he liked my work. I send him a link where my photograph was published and ask him to add a link to a photo on my website as photo author. Although some of them do not respond, believe that at least a third of them will react and add a link, so it will bring you a new visitors.

Credits Matej Michalik

Here is the case when they added to my photo a link to my website after sending my request.

Those who wish to harm you to enrich

To the second group of people belong those who benefit from your photo. And it is already not perfectly fine. My website is protected against copying of content, however, those smarter  can download an uploaded photo anyway. Now what? Will you judge? That is not the way. Again I proved a positive attitude. I wrote again to all e-mail that my photo is on their website without my consent and thus they act unlawfully when they are trying to sell my photograph. I also found websites where people offered my photo for free download. I sent them an e-mail that I would like to see my photo downloaded from their site so they do not cause further damage. All very tactfully and pleasantly. In this approach I saw good response and almost half of the people wrote off that it happened accidentally and deleted photo immediately. When you behave rudely and threaten with lawyers they will not delete the photo on purpose, in addition they will steal the rest of your portfolio.

Here are examples of how some have responded, it is proof that there is no need to go to thing with force.

Sorry Sir,
Now, I’ve removed your image from my website,
Hi Matej Michalik,
Actually We don’t sell any of the wallpapers or photos on our website. The wallpapers are uploaded by users and available free for others to download for their personal use only. Your  photo has been removed from our site. Thanks for contacting us.

How to protect against theft of photos?

That my photo is used on some foreign website does not bother me.  I recently found my photo even on ebay where someone was selling it and sent it printed to customers. It was sold 30 times! In the description of the photo seller stated that sells quality prints. His customers had to be disappointed because when someone downloads my photo from the web, it has approximately 1000 pixels and 72 DPI and from that you do not print photograph even in normal quality.

Selling my photo without permission

Here is when I discovered that someone was selling my photo on ebay without my permission.

How to prepare your photos for the web?

You would wonder how many people download their photos on the web in full size and reduction retains on the functionality of website which automatically reduces picture according to the required format. This is a mistake because thief can download your photo in many cases at full size. How then reduce the photo to optimal size? Read on.

Export of photograph for the web in Photoshop

We show one of several methods how to prepare the photo for the web. Open the photo in Photoshop, click on “Image“ – “Image size“, to the column width, for example, enter 800 pixels and click on OK.

Reducing photo size to 800 pixels


Then click on file – save for web and save the photograph. Photoshop automatically reduces picture quality to 72 DPI that is optimal for viewing on the web. At the same time, such a definition is absolutely not optimal for printing.

Saving photo for web usage

Adding a watermark to a photo

Prevent the spread of photograph without having to know who is the author you can also by adding  watermark. Watermark is often added big as well as to places of photograph where it is difficult to retouch. The second thing that concerns a watermark is a question of aesthetics. The viewer overall impression from picture can be spoiled just by your watermark. This also applies for me so I do not add a watermark to photos.

I believe I have helped you to open your eyes how easy it is to find out whether your photo is not circulating around the Internet without your knowledge. Help other photographers and share this simple guide on social media.