Basic Tips For Photographers On How To Protect Your Images Online
Participating in social media and taking advantage of the cloud computing and the web in general is a great way for photographers to gain exposure, make friends, get new creative ideas and promote their hobby or work. All this positivity is too good to be true and is tarnished by the dangers of online image theft.
(Image Source: Shutterstock)
This can happen at two levels:
- Breach of security, usually by password guessing. This means that everything in your account can be used or misused.
- Theft of individual images.
The first case is a catastrophic scenario that can easily wipe out professional lives and should be avoided at all costs. The second case is far less severe and can cause anything from a small irritation to serious drain of income. Images, like any data, can never be a hundred percent safe online, however there are simple measures that help.
Protect Your Password
There is a whole online community with dedicated forums on how to guess or predict passwords, it is therefore vital to follow some simple rules:
- Never use single words as a complete password.
- Do not include all or parts of your name, surname, birth date, pet name or data that can be found on online profiles.
- Do not use your password as a hint.
- Try to mix upper and lower case characters, numbers and symbols in the same password. The more unpredictable the order the better.
- Avoid passwords that coincide with collection and gallery names. If necessary, make galleries unlisted so that only you can access them and then give access to who you want via links.
- It might be overkill, but never use passwords of the 123456 or abcdef type. This way you are becoming a sitting duck waiting to be shot.
Protect Your Images
Once an image is posted online, it is automatically pushed out in the wild jungle. Protecting individual images is in many ways an impossible task and believe it or not more difficult to achieve than keeping your passwords and accounts safe. Some measures are:
- Disable right clicks on your website. It is the very first thing tried on images.
- Use watermarks. These can vary from a signature in one corner of the image to heavy watermarking over the whole image surface. For the images I really care about, I prefer a combination of the two, with tiled small watermarks all over the image surface. The key here is to avoid making your shots repulsive and destroying the worthiness of otherwise good work. Making watermarks opaque and barely detectable visually is very important. If you find them annoying then resorting to a signature watermark is enough for you.
- Resort to professional watermarking like that provided by Digimarc that includes an owner ID and tracking across the Internet. I find it hyperbole because the aim is to prevent theft in the first place.
I would say that there are ways to minimize rather than prevent damage. Once a photographer is aware of online dangers, it is at their discretion to choose appropriate measures. The whole idea is that there is many people with few moral inhibitions and very bad intentions. Therefore, spending time to protect your visual creations is time very well spent.
By Dimitrios Matsoulis