I am about to start a website with my photography. While I do not plan to secure the images in any way (the resolution of the images there will not be big enough to do anything meaningful with it - 800px long side max, I'd say) I would at least want to get an approximate sense about what people do with the images and where in the web they show up. People can link to my images or my website or copy them an post them on Facebook or anywhere else.

What are strategies, technologies, apps that could help me with keeping track of my images?

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    \$\begingroup\$ There really are no applications, if I have to install an application to view your pictures, I will not. Then (as that silly "self destruct" messaging app showed) screenshotting defeats it anyway. There are proposals to add DRM to jpeg however these will not go anywhere. By the very nature of computers if my computer can turn X into Y I can save Y to a file (very dumbed down). Depending on what your images are it could be more important that you can prove you took them, in this case crop them slightly, the uncropped version is your proof. \$\endgroup\$
    – Alec Teal
    Dec 9, 2015 at 18:04
  • \$\begingroup\$ With "Applications" I meant ready-made tools and frameworks like for example Wordpress that'd help me with tracking my images. \$\endgroup\$
    – bitbonk
    Dec 11, 2015 at 20:16
  • \$\begingroup\$ Go to ANY site you like, right click picture - do you think EVERY site specifies "save picture as" or that Wordpress does? \$\endgroup\$
    – Alec Teal
    Dec 11, 2015 at 22:01
  • \$\begingroup\$ Wordpress was just an example, I am sure there are plugin for Wordpress that could help me with tracking images (like this one wordpress.org/plugins/credit-tracker) . Again I do not want to protect my images, everybody can use them the way they want, which includes downloading them. But I would like to get to know common "strategies, technologies or applications" in a wider sense that can help me to find out where they are used. \$\endgroup\$
    – bitbonk
    Dec 11, 2015 at 22:10
  • \$\begingroup\$ You're missing the point, the point was that downloading images is demonstrably browser-side. \$\endgroup\$
    – Alec Teal
    Dec 11, 2015 at 22:54

4 Answers 4


Google Reverse Image search does wonders and so does TinEye to find out where your photos have been posted. Both are very useful!

  • \$\begingroup\$ While TinEye provides better usability, its indexing unfortunately lags behind Google's by a vast margin. There's an answer about how to use the Google service via POST requests here. \$\endgroup\$ Dec 9, 2015 at 20:20
  • \$\begingroup\$ I don't think either TinEye or Google searches images on facebook. I've never found one of my images on facebook using TinEye, even when I know they are on facebook because I put them there! \$\endgroup\$
    – Michael C
    Dec 9, 2015 at 21:47
  • \$\begingroup\$ @MichaelClark - Facebook results occasionally come up for Google, I would imagine it would only be in the cases where the privacy settings allow them to crawl the content. \$\endgroup\$ Dec 10, 2015 at 2:16

I. Preparations.

a) The first rule. If you do not want anyone to use your photos, do not publish them.

Once they are published they can be "pirated" in some way or another.

b) Be very clear on the licence of your photos.

Probably you can licence some under a creative commons one, or on the contrary, state that you can not use them in anyway without a fee or a written permision.

There is a large scale of licences you can use.

c) Watermark them.

You can use an intrusive big watermark or a small one.

For example, on this wallpapers I relased under a CC licence:


I added a very small non intrusive credit. Thinking that people would not mind leaving it there.

II. Put a frendly reminder to comment on the usage of your photos.

In some free images sites, the licence for the usage is that you need to comment on where are you using a photo, inclusive asking for a capture of the finished project. This can be interesting on tracking usage, including not only web, but also a printed brochure, etc.

You can also ask for a link to your website. This can be usefull in seo, and after it can be tracked by your host provider.

III. Reverse image search

As already comented by Daniel Chambers, this can be usefull on web published images.

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    \$\begingroup\$ +1 for Watermarks. They are the single most annoying thing that someone looking for easy images to a job or homework can stumble upon. Plus, no fancy tech involved! \$\endgroup\$
    – T. Sar
    Dec 9, 2015 at 19:09
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    \$\begingroup\$ He didn't ask how to protect his images though, just how to see what people are using them for. \$\endgroup\$ Dec 9, 2015 at 21:29
  • \$\begingroup\$ The license should allow people to use it, and simply require them to send him how they were used - otherwise it doesn't match the OP \$\endgroup\$ Dec 10, 2015 at 2:33

If you upload the pictures to imgur, and then use embedded links to imgur in your site, the imgur site itself provides a fairly comprehensive tracking mechanism for showing how many direct views, e-mail links, which websites etc.

Of course, this only applies for links used to access the works in question. If people download the images and then repost them, you will only see the initial download (if that). You will not see the subsequent repost traffic.


Like Rafael said, it's all about your behaviour.

Technically you cannot keep control of the images on your on website, just because the other people (the browser to be precise) download the images on their computer to display them on the monitor.

Make a compromise: Publish low resolution (with or without watermark) for fun, even under creative common licenses, and keep the printing material save on your storage devices.

Or consider publishing ALL the cool stuff in 400 pixels width for free at your site and enjoy the publicity and new customers.

  • \$\begingroup\$ As I said, I do not plan to secure the images in any way, all I am asking in this how to get an idea about where my images are used. \$\endgroup\$
    – bitbonk
    Dec 11, 2015 at 20:18

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