data vie, jul, 2022

What Makes Your Photos Prone to Getting Stolen


You are almost there! It seems that you are pretty close to getting your portfolio classified for our picture tracking. Your photos are already quite popular on the web but they are not on the top of image thieves’ picks, yet! Don’t worry, we have been here before. We’ve got a couple of questions for you to answer. No worries, it should take less than a minute. But is totally worth it to take care of your copyrighted images. What makes your photos prone to getting stolen? Let’s find out!


This article was originally published on March 9, 2020.

(C) Canva

Let’s start with answering some questions: 

Do you have your pictures published online?

Do you have a Flickr account?

Do you run a blog?

Is your site based on WordPress?

Do you use meta titles and meta descriptions for your pictures?

Do you capture landmarks, scenic views, natural wonders?

Do you take situational photographs which show activities and emotions?

Do you shoot with long exposure?

Do your pictures have intense, saturated colours?

Do you take pictures of food popular in the restaurants?


If there were more nodded more times than you shook your head, it just a matter of time until your photos get a higher recognition. We prepared for you a small guideline with crucial tips and practises you should implement.



Once you run a website or a blog and you optimize it for Google Images search there is a big chance you will attract not only a lot of clients. Your photos also catch the attention of a bunch of thieves. Proper optimization is what makes your photos prone to getting stolen. If at the same time, your website is clearly described and classified, you take good care of the meta titles and meta descriptions for your posts and pictures, then your site is loaded with keywords which help image thieves navigate the Internet to find what they are looking for. Google prioritizes fresh content but does not take it as a rule of thumb, old photos can perform very well as well.

Google Images search works in a similar way like a regular web search. If the bot can crawl, index and understand what your images represent, then they can be ranked.



Keywords are the words and phrases which people type into Google or another search engine to find what they are looking for. Some keywords might be getting a hundred thousand unique searches a day. Others just a few. Popular keywords are very competitive online since many businesses are trying to gain traffic from them. Choosing very popular and generic keywords such as photography, landscape photography, cityscape photography can bring a lot of searches but… At the same time, it would require a lot of work on the content to get it highly ranked. More specific keywords, such as, for example, ‘photo Verona‘, ’Berlin wall photo‘ may as well attract a great number of visitors. Visitors with a greater chance for those who are specifically interested in your picture or… just want to steal it. The well-chosen keyword is what makes your photos prone to getting stolen.

One of the most common tools for picking the right keywords is Google Keyword Research Tool. This tool will give you an overview of how many online users are searching for a keyword. That way you can have a clue on how effective certain keyword might be.

Photos with precise and accurate keywords, phrases of location or accompanied by a lot of text connected to the subject of the photo automatically perform very well on Google. It does not require much time or effort to find them. You can read more about it on many SEO blogs.



If you have your pictures licensed under Creative Commons NonCommercial license it is also what makes your photos prone to getting stolen. The Creative Commons NonCommercial license allows the copyright holder – so you as a photographer – to reuse the photographs under this license publicly for non-commercial activities. Sounds clear and understandable in theory. In practice, it brings a lot of misinterpretations. Defining a non-commercial use is very often a challenge. A lot of content creators and online users have their own biases. They also very often interpret the expression ’non-commercial‘  in a way which favours their own usage. That means that very often they do not obtain the proper license when using your pictures, which causes harm for your work.



From our experience, we have noticed that certain types of photos get stolen more often than others. Cityscape and landscape photography seem to be trending. In the cityscape category, among the most desirable ones are touristic attractions photographed during a specific time. The day (with blue sky) or golden/blue hour, riverside views (also shot with long exposure), spots typical for the city (either crowded or with no people at all) seem to be trending.Also special atmospheric phenomena like eg. lightning get special attention. For landscape, the most desirable among image thieves are waterfalls (shot with long exposure), travel activities such as cycling, swimming etc. (shot during the golden hour, in warm colours), mountain views in blue/gey colors, aurora and exotic places like beaches or deserts.

This tendency was proven already a while ago by Nico Trinkhaus. He is both landscape and cityscape photographer and the founder of PhotoClaim. So far his images were stolen over 7000 times. The thieves vary between big hotel chains, travel agencies, restaurants and many more respectable companies.

Among other types of photos, portraits – especially those of famous people, shot in sepia or black and white – are also stolen often. When it comes to product photography, food shot in pastel or intensive colour combination tends to be the most appealing to thieves.



Posting and sharing pictures on popular image platforms, like Flickr, is also increasing their potential of being stolen. Those which get to the Flickr Explore section are especially prone to getting stolen.

The copyright law seems to still be an enigma to many. While working with image theft, we have noticed that a big percentage of Internet users are not familiar with the terms and conditions of the services they use daily. A lot of people treat photo-sharing platforms as free picture databases which is surely not the case. But the ignorance of the law is not an excuse. Once you have your pictures uploaded there, it is crucial to keep an eye on where and by whom they are being used.

At the same time, be careful with stock markets like Getty Images or 500px. At Getty images, they do not keep their promises. Even if they state that they would track the infringements of your pictures, we often hear from our photographers that they do very little about it. Some photo agencies, like 500px, would require sublicensing, but they are not very explicit about it. As soon as they obtain the rights to your picture, they start selling it to hundreds of other people and companies. The sad reality is that you do not get a penny from these transactions. It is crucial to always check the Terms & Conditions of a certain agency before signing the contract and uploading your photos.



At PhotoClaim, our aim is to not only stop image theft but also raise the awareness of photographers. We want you to have no doubts about your rights. Once the amount of the infringements of your photographs grows, we will be more than happy to welcome you in our community. Let’s keep in touch!

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