Spending your evenings trying to identify your pictures on Google may not be the most exciting way you hoped to spend your time, but a picture tracking in case of image theft is a necessary task.

In this article, you will complete and exact tips on how to do a reverse image search and monitor copyrighted images. 

reverse image search

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Picture tracking is just one of the many hats worn by professional and fine art photographers in today’s modern world. In a time when web users upload 2.5 quintillion bytes of data every day, and imagery theft is a prospering crime, photographers must stay on top of picture tracking more than ever before.

The rapid development of free reverse image search tools is taking some of the strain off the shoulders of photographers by speeding up the image checking process. However, try to avoid the trap of thinking, ‘I can’t find this picture so it must not have stolen’. It takes patience and persistence to find photos, even with the tools specifically designed for easier image search online. Below is our guide on how to use reverse image search tools as image trackers.

First Create A Checklist Template

As your portfolio expands, you will have more and more images to keep an eye on. Keep yourself organised by creating a checklist for every search you conduct. Your checklist should consist of a list of your image IDs or a thumbnail of each picture, then a set of search detail parameters to be followed for each image which you can check off as you go. The latter should include what tools you used, how many pages into each search result you checked and so on.

Having a checklist like this will help you avoid wasting precious hours of your time by being sucked into mindless scrolling on the internet.

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How To Use Reverse Image Search Sites

To help web users find photos online, Google created a tool called Google Images Finder. This simple to use photo search tool is free and should become a regular fixture in your photo tracking efforts.

To use Google Image finder for picture tracking, navigate to google.com/imghp and select the camera icon in the search bar. From here, you have a choice to either copy and paste your image URL into the search bar or to upload an image from your PC. We recommend that you do both.

Track Images By Url

When searching using the image URL option, Google will show you every webpage that links back to your online portfolio.

To track an image using the image URL first right click on the image and select ‘Copy Image Address’.  Navigate back to Google Image Finder, select the photo icon and paste the URL into the search bar.

Of course, if you have deactivated the right-click option on your website, then you might think the choice to search by image URL is not useful for you. However, you can, of course, use it for any site hosting your image. For example, an image that is licensed to be used by a news outlet. In this case, you can use the URL from the news site to track a picture that another site has stolen from this third party site.

Likewise, you can do the same when you find a site that has stolen your image. Right-click on the stolen image on the rogue site to determine the URL. Then use this to see if it has then been taken from this site and used elsewhere also.

Search Images By Image

When you select the second choice, to search images online by image, Google will identify images that are the same or similar to your own.

To search photos online this way, upload or drag and drop the photo into Google Images Finder. The search results will be a combination of images that Google thinks are related, but not necessarily the same and pages that include matching images. The latter will contain sites you recognize and expect, and also ones that have taken your picture without permission.

It is advisable to use both methods to search as people who intentionally steal photos are more likely to download what they want to take from your site. People who think that they are not stealing because they are crediting you, giving you free exposure and the like, are more likely to link back to your site in an effort to do the right thing.

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How To Narrow Down Your Search For An Image Online

When conducting a reverse image search online, think of the ways that someone could have changed the photograph. When thieves, knowingly or unknowingly* take your pictures, they don’t always leave them untouched. A blog owner, for example, might come across an image of a beach you took and decided it was just the ticket for their travel related post. Once they have downloaded or copied the pic, they might then determine that it will suit their site better if it were black and white.

To narrow down your search and identify pictures with Google that have people have edited or manipulated, you need to search for different versions. Make mirrored versions of your images, as well as pixelated, blurred, and filtered variations. Search each one with Google Images Finder to narrow down your image tracking results.

If you search images online and come across one of your own or a version of your own, Google has another trick up its sleeve to help you. In the image search result, right-click any image and select ‘Search Google For Image’ to hone in web pages that are hosting this version too.

*(not everyone realises that they should run an image copyright search when taking images they find online)
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How To Use Reverse Image Search For Free On Your Phone

Thanks to rapidly evolving mobile technology, you can now find images online using your phone. Useful for when you have to travel with work and want to stay on top of your image tracking.

Using Google as an image finder on your phone is simple, and there are a couple of different methods. The first is to use images.google.com and search for an image using the URL. The second is to search by typing in a description of the image.  You should note though the latter is not an effective method unless your photograph and its description are particularly unique.

It is not possible to upload an image to the Google Reverse Image search mobile site from your phone or to use the ‘search for this image on Google’ option. However, there is a workaround. Here’s how to try in on an android phone.

  • Navigate to Google Images in the Chrome App
  • Select the three dots located in the top right hand corner
  • Scroll down to find and select ‘Desktop Site’

This will change the Google Images site to the one you are used to seeing on your PC. Allowing you to upload images from your phone.

It is also possible to use Google Lens to assist you with your search for photos online. Download the Google Lens app for Android or iOS. Now that you have the app, the Google Lens icon will be available to you when you click on any image within a search result. Click on the icon to search for that image on other sites.

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How To Search Images With Yandex

Although Google is the trusted name in search, other photo search reverse tools should become part of your image tracking tool kit. Using a variety of search tools ensures a more thorough investigation and can give different results.

For example, another powerful tool for your picture tracking efforts is the Russian based site, Yandex. Like Google, Yandex offers free reverse image search that will scour the world wide web for your creations. Yandex’ image search is simple to use:

  • Navigate to Yandex.com
  • Upload or drag and drop your image from your computer and search

Unlike Google’s free reverse image search tool, Yandex has a built in crop tool that you will find beneath the main image of your search results. This handy little tool lets you select a part of your image and search for just that. You are thus narrowing the search parameters even further.

How To find photos With Tineye

Canada’s offering to the image tracking efforts of photographers comes in the form of free reverse image search tool Tineye.

There are four ways to use Tineye to find photos. You can:

  • Upload an image
  • Search by URL
  • Drag and drop an image from a folder or from a browser tab
  • Copy and paste into the search bar

At Tineye.com, there is a useful option to add Tineye to your web browser of choice. This option is available for Chrome, Opera and Firefox. Having the Tineye extension added to your browser allows you to right click on any image online and select the option to search the image on Tineye. A useful shortcut for shaving off some time.

How To Search Images With Bing’s Free Reverse Image Search

It might not be your go to search engine (or maybe it is, no judgement here) but Bing does have a free reverse image search tool that can be of use to you. Better still, it works well on phones too.

A notable feature of Bing’s search tool is that it is able to read text in images, such as logos and signs, too. This adds an extra layer to your search result and helps you narrow down the search results with more accurate details.

To Use Bing To Search Images Online Via Your PC

  • Navigate to bing.com/visualsearch in any search engine
  • Here you can paste in an image, it’s URL or browse your PC for an image to upload
  • Like Yandex, Bing has included a crop function to allow you to focus on particular areas of the image. A handy way to vary your search efforts.

To Use Bing Image Search On Your Mobile Phone

  • Navigate to Bing.com in any search engine app
  • Select the square camera icon in the search bar
  • Accept the prompt to allow camera access
  • Select the photo icon in the bottom left hand corner to browse the images stored on your phone
  • Once you have the image you want to search, select ‘Done’

How To Reverse Image Search on Instagram

Evidence of image theft is rife on image sharing social media sites like Instagram. Our clients are often disappointed when so-called influencers and other photographers steal their work. To reverse search an image on Instagram isn’t always straight forward (read more about it here). Still there are some options for how to Reverse Image Search on Instagram.

  • First, try the powerful search engines we have mentioned above, Yandex and Google.
  • Next, try searching using hashtags that would relate to your image. Keep the results in grid view to make scanning the results easier.
  • For landscapes, cityscapes and portraits, you should also search using the location tag.

Instagram doesn’t make it easy to track stolen pictures, so you might find your photos trickier to track down here. For more advice, contact the Photoclaim team.

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What To Do When You Find Your Copyright Image in Search?

Once you track a picture that has been used without your consent, there are some different options for how you approach the next step. Some photographers like to send an invoice to the website owner and demand payment. Others prefer to send a polite request to have the image removed from the site. We know all these situations. The photographers we work with have been there. In most of the cases they were not able to get back the money they deserve from their copyrights. That is why we are here to make sure you have your rights protected, can focus on photography and be fairly paid.

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Conclusion

There are many ways to use reverse image searches to track a picture. Whatever method you use to track your stolen photographs online, don’t let the theft go unquestioned. You deserve to be appropriately compensated for the use of your copyrighted image. In case  you do not have time for conducting a research, we will do it for you (and there are no hidden costs!). Avoid letting your photos be stolen and find an easier way to have your rights protected, by signing up here for free.

When you come across one of your photos and are unsure of your rights, let us know at service@photoclaim.com rather than letting the thieves get away with stealing from you. Help other photographers protect their rights too by sharing your own experience on all of your available channels, as well as the options available for photographers seeking help.

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