I'm running a photo studio. As one of my services, I launched the web gallery to select the images by clients. But as the time goes, the customers don't select images and do screen capture and save them or print them. Even I added watermark... So, I'm looking for something to prevent screen capture or print screen instead of adding watermarks on each images.

Now, I'm using zenfolio service, right now. But before that, I'd used Smugmug,as well. Both are recommending us to add watermark to protect images.

I think the better way to prevent such action, photographers embed some code onto each images, if clients do this action to jump photographers' site or to react nothing instead of saving images without permission.

But I know it's impossible. If anyone has better way, please help.


  • Thanks guys for your comments. I see, there are no option to protect images online without watermark or low res images.... I better stop doing this for the clients who have done this before, especially. Thank you for your time, anyway. – scrappy Jun 22 '17 at 0:24
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    Voting to close because "But I know it's impossible." – xiota Aug 31 '18 at 10:29

What about displaying

  1. a low-quality and low-resolution thumbnail, to advertise what image they are about to pay for; and
  2. a small detail in full resolution and final quality, to advertise what quality they are about to pay for?

Bottom line is: you can't protect against this. If the images are shown on the screen, they are in the memory of the client computer and can be extracted one way or another.

You can make this slightly harder, for example by capturing right-clicks in the client's browser but that's only a small hurdle for people to jump over - they can either install a browser extension to regain control of right-click or just get the images from the browser cache on disk. Preventing screen captures is even harder as that's an OS function.

Realistically, if your clients aren't prepared to pay for what you're offering, you either need to take better photos or perhaps more profitably find clients that are prepared to pay.

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    Posting low res files / limiting online presence might be a partial solution - what is not online cannot be stolen - but in principle I agree. If your clients are not prepared to pay for your work it is futile to fight them; better find different ones. Life is too short for petty grievances. – Jindra Lacko Jun 21 '17 at 9:35

The most important thing is your time. Most photographers attempt to recoup the cost of their time shooting in the sale of prints. To me, this is a faaaaaaaaar outdated business model.

Sometimes we don't get to choose our clients, as in the case of contracting with local high schools to do senior portraits. In these cases, you are contracted to shoot someone who might fall outside of your target market. The reality is that you'll never sell a portrait to this group and your time will be lost.

So what do you do? Explore changing your business model around. If you can get the shoot done in 30min and run the photos through some simple actions to clean them up in 10, then explore selling medium resolution digital images to them for some amount that is there to cover your 2/3 of an hour with them. Make this sale either up front or at the end of session and call it a day.

Now, if it's your wedding clients that are doing this...then you really need to look at who you're targeting.


If your galleries are only accessible by the corresponding client, if the pictures are "stolen" (i.e., used in ways not authorised by you or by law) you know who did it, so you can take legal action against them (or threaten to, which may be sufficient).

I don't see any other option other than not putting them online altogether; even Snapchat can't totally prevent pictures from being grabbed, even though their business arguably depends on it.

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    I doubt that saying "I only gave the password to X" is a sufficient legal proof to prosecute X, given how web sites are hacked all the time. There's also the issue of proving damages occurred adequate to actually go through the legal hurdles. On top of that, suing potential clients is almost never productive as a business strategy; find a different business model if this one is not working. – Linwood Jun 21 '17 at 14:29
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    I don't think that's a very likely legal argument: "Your honor, yes, my client has prints of this photograph which did not come from the photograper, but there is no proof that they weren't mailed to him by anonymous hackers." But I agree with all the rest. – mattdm Jun 22 '17 at 1:13

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