In today’s digital world, it’s easier than ever to share your work as a photographer. With the help of high-quality web builders and web design tools, you can intuitively create an online portfolio website, showcase your photos, and reach new crowds, markets, and clients. Showcasing your products or services via photos and images also gives way to a more memorable user experience when users interact with your site.
But the internet is a double-edged sword in this case. It’s easier than ever to steal the images you’ve worked so hard to craft. In fact, over 2.5 billion images are stolen daily, making photography theft a serious issue for photographers at all levels.
So, you want to showcase your photos online, but you’re afraid it may leave your work exposed. Fortunately, there are various ways you can help protect your images from unwanted use.
What Is Image Theft?
Image theft refers to any use of someone else’s copyrighted images, photos, illustrations, etc, without their consent. This includes selling, publishing, or even displaying an image.
While the definition of image theft may seem intuitive, many people don’t associate the online use of an image with theft.
Stealing an image doesn’t necessarily require a cyber attack or security breach. It can be as simple as saving a photo from Google Images or copying it from a photographer’s website portfolio.
What are Image Copyrights?
Before we dive into the security measures you can use to prevent theft, let’s understand what image copyright means.
Image copyright, or any copyright for that matter, is a legal right over your work. Meaning you have the exclusive right to reproduce, publish, display, or sell your images.
Technically, copyright is established the moment you create your work. So the second you take a photo, it legally belongs to you. However, you can take things one step further and register your copyrighted work with an official government entity in your country.
Registering your image copyright provides additional legal protection in case your images are used unlawfully.
5 Tips for Photography Theft Protection
Photography theft may be a serious problem. But it should never deter you from starting a portfolio website to showcase your work.
Fortunately, there are several steps you can take to help protect your images:
Add a Watermark to Your Images
Adding a watermark to your photos is the first line of defense against image theft. It’s a visual stamp that’s overlaid on your photos, making it clear that you hold the copyright. It also makes the images harder to use without permission, as they’re simply not “clean”.
Some website portfolio builders, such as Wix, allow you to easily add watermarks when uploading your image in order to prevent image theft attempts.
Disable Right-Click on Your Website
The easiest way to steal your images from your website is by right-clicking and saving them. So disabling right-click on your site is an effective website security measure.
Disabling right-click is a common practice when it comes to online photography portfolios.
Disable Hotlinking Options
Hotlinking is a common form of image theft. This is when another website embeds your image, using your website as the host, without providing the proper credit.
Hotlinking is often seen as a form of cyber attack, as it uses your bandwidth resources, and can hurt your site’s performance.
So disabling hotlinking is a very useful security measure for online portfolio owners. You can do so using different plugins, or by implementing a simple piece of code.
Upload Your Images to a Reputable Source
Unless you build and own your own website, you’ll have to use a third-party site to display your images, relying on their website security. In this case, not only will your images be more exposed, but you’ll also have less control over security measures.
Before uploading images to any website, make sure to read their terms and conditions, and see how they protect copyrights.
The best way to avoid this issue altogether is by bypassing third-party sites and making your own, using a reputable portfolio website builder like Wix. In this case, you’ll be in full control over the distribution and security of your images.
Use an Image Protection Service
If you feel your images are at risk, you can kick your copyright protection up a notch with an image protection service.
These services help discover where your images are being displayed and provide tools and services to combat unauthorized use.
Having the backing of an image protection service increases your ability to secure your images and makes it easier to take action if necessary.
4 Tips to Promote Your Photography Portfolio
If you’re a photographer looking to gain exposure or find work, you want people to see your portfolio. The risk of having your images stolen definitely shouldn’t stop you.
So, to end on a high note, we put together 4 tips to promote your online photography portfolio:
Make Your Portfolio SEO Friendly
SEO (search engine optimization) is one of the most effective ways to organically raise traffic to your portfolio.
Enriching your images, texts, and pages with the right keywords can significantly improve your portfolio’s ranking on search engines, like Google. This will make your site easier to find or even stumble upon by accident.
Write a Blog
If you’re comfortable writing, a blog can be a great addition to your portfolio. It also serves a couple of important functions.
First, a blog gives you a place to share your thoughts, insights, or interesting takes on topics related to your field. A well-written blog can make your portfolio website more compelling, and provide a lot more of a feel for who you are as a photographer and person.
Second, a blog provides valuable real estate for SEO. Writing articles with specific keywords in mind will increase your visibility on search engines, ultimately bringing more traffic to your portfolio.
Grow Your Social Media Following
It’s no secret that people spend their time on social media. So if you want exposure for your work, look no further.
Using social media platforms, like Instagram, is a must for most photographers trying to gain recognition. You can post your images for free, and by using the right hashtags and social media tactics, you can actually gain a dedicated following.
Don’t forget to link your social media to your online portfolio, to increase your traffic where it’s most effective!
Provide Free-to-use Images
Like any business, you can raise your profile by giving out free stuff. Many photographers provide samples of their work for free, authorizing use under certain conditions.
No one wants to steal images or use them against the wishes of the copyright owner. So free-to-use images can become extremely popular, and are always in demand. Also, due to the rise of cryptocurrencies and NFTs, investors have resorted to creating cryptocurrency portfolios in order to keep track of their assets – an online resource that requires added levels of security and encryption.
However, you should be mindful of the terms you set for authorized use. To make sure you gain the exposure you’re after, you should limit your free images to non-commercial use, and require the proper credits to be given whenever shared or displayed.