The Quick & Dirty Guide to Wedding Photography Business Branding

We’ve written about branding at length before, with talk on finding your own niche and sticking to it, as well as several other techniques to help you stand out on today’s complex photography market. Today, however, we’re going to make everything simple and clear for your convenience, with a quick and dirty guide to wedding photography business branding. We’ll be covering all the basics, from getting your reputation off the ground, to putting it to work for you – all outlined in some simple, easy-to-follow steps. Oh, and good luck!

The definitive guide to wedding photography business branding: Newbie edition

1. Making a name and a living at the same time

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Back in the day, when print photography was much more important than it is today, in the digital era, photographers would make a name for themselves by getting gallery exposure, followed up with editorial work. Far be it from us, in our guide to wedding photography business branding, to dissuade you from garnering exposure via exhibitions. But, since they’re less likely to draw lucrative clients today than two or three decades ago, you’d be better advised to get some exposure online first, via curated websites. Promote any exposure you can get on your own social media channels and watch as the work rolls in.

2. Don’t underestimate stock photography

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As many a seasoned photog will tell you, stock photography doesn’t sell nearly as well as it used to, nowadays. However, if you manage to get a bit of reputation off the ground, you might be surprised to learn that stock will provide a welcome stream of steady income. The trick to making this work often entails taking up several assignments at once – the pay isn’t big, but it’s dependable, when you do strike a lucrative stock photography contract.

3. Have the best possible online presence

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In between running and maintaining a blog, several social media accounts (Pinterest, Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram are nearly compulsory) and setting up a professional website, you might even want to look into hiring an assistant to handle the workload for you. At the same time, even if you do choose to go down this route, it’s important to maintain a personal approach to your online presence. In other words, don’t make your fans and followers feel like they’re been talked at by a company, but by a genuine human being.

4. Consider hiring an editor

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What’s all this talk about hiring someone else do the work for you?, you may ask. After all, the best way to take care of business is to do it yourself, right? Most of the time, yes – but not all the time. If, for instance, editing your work is not your strong suit (which, incidentally, is something that a lot of photographers struggle with), you should definitely think about hiring someone to edit the photos for you. After all, your end goal is to put your best foot forward, as it were, and make sure that the images that get out there with your name on them are the best possible ones.

5. Work on as many projects as possible

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We’ve mentioned this before, in connection with stock photography, but it’s a good rule of thumb to go by, no matter the type of assignment. From shooting weddings pure and simple, to taking on editorial assignments, it’s a good idea to put out as much work as you can. You will thus expand your scope, grow your business, showcase your skill, and make sure you get your name out there, on as many people’s radars as possible. And that can’t be a bad idea, right?

5 Online Photography Portfolio Mistakes to Avoid

Curious to know if you’re at fault for one of these common online photography portfolio mistakes? Read on – about loading time, the importance of contact information, the vital presence of passion, and plenty more errors that many otherwise skilled and professional photographers can succumb to. Bear them in mind, when you work on articulating a coherent online presence and business is sure to freely flow in.

Your contact info is not crystal clear

Let’s not beat around the bush about this one – one of the most frequently encountered online photography portfolio mistakes. If your contact information is not literally plastered on each and every single page of your website, portfolio included, then you’re definitely doing something wrong. Think about it: how else are you supposed to attract new business, if your potential clients don’t know how they could reach you? And, no, putting your contact information up on the first page is often not enough since, contrary to what you may think, most visitors to your website don’t start their visit with the main page.

You’re all business and no fun

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We get it: your job is photographing weddings. Or commercial products. Or architecture. But do you actually like what you shoot? Are you passionate about your job, your subjects, and the stories you convey visually? Another one of those dreaded online photography portfolio mistakes that we often run into is that photographers all too often focus on coming across as professional and don’t manage to convince us, their audience, that they’re actually passionate about what they shoot – be it weddings, clothes, or luncheon meats.

You don’t know your audience

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Be honest to yourself: in the day and age of SEO and Google Analytics supremacy, even your grandma would probably be able to take one look at the traffic data your website provides and understand the audience’s profile and needs. Your online photography portfolio needs to speak to actual people. What kind of monitor are they likely to have? What’s their age? Where do they live? What pages do they interact with and how? Are they more likely to browse your site off a PC or a mobile device, like a laptop, tablet, or smartphone? You need to know all these things and make sure your website design responds to them.

You avoid words

Yes, your main occupation is working with images – but you need to remember that one of the biggest online photography portfolio mistakes is to not include any words whatsoever on your page. On the Internet, words are your friend. Not only do they help with SEO, but they also enable you, the artist, to tell a more complete story. If your work ends up featured in a magazine or on a website, chances are your words are going to follow it there. And, most importantly, your potential clients will get a better shot at understanding how you work and what drives you.

The loading time is through the roof

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The one biggest pet peeve, for people who browse photo-heavy websites is a long loading time. A recent buyer survey from Photo Shelter has revealed that absolutely no one likes to be kept waiting around, until the pictures on a website have finished loading. We’re talking load times that need to be far lower than even one second. Otherwise, your visitors are going to perceive a break in the pace at which they’re used to browsing – and simply head elsewhere. There are plenty of website optimization tricks to help speed up loading time, including pre-loading a part of the images, as visitors browse, and so on. Don’t let such a seemingly small issue drag the quality of your whole website down.

5 Tips on Building the Best Photo Portfolio Website

Say what you will, but building the best photo portfolio website is still important, even in 2014 – the day and age of social media, mobile apps and all other great digital trends. Why does a good website still matter? The answer is simple enough and has a lot to do with one of the most basic principles in marketing: a website for your photo brand is the most comprehensive way for a potential client to sample your work and decide whether or not they want to hire you. They’ll be basing their decision on what they see there to a great extent, so it pays off to know how to best represent your brand and showcase your work. That being said, here are five efficient tips on how to build the best photo portfolio website for yourself.

#1 Getting praise for website design? Think again

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There’s nothing inherently wrong with having a website design that gets a lot of compliments… if you’re a website designer. But you’re not; you’re a wedding photographer and that’s what your site should convey. Forget complex Flash animations and other artifices. Keep it simple and clean, let the photos speak for themselves, keep the number of buttons at a bare minimum, and, if possible, even add an option that conceals them when they’re not being used. K-I-S-S, as they say, and you’ll be on your way to building the best photo portfolio website possible.

#2 Reconsider your views on image theft

This point might turn out controversial, but it bears mentioning. As you may or may not have noticed, more and more photographers with a strong online presence choose to put their images up at full-screen size on their website. They’re also keeping the area of the picture that’s taken up by the watermark at a bare minimum (as do major image repositories such as Getty Images). Of course, you want to protect your images from being stolen, but you also want to see them featured, shared, and admired. It’s easy to protect your full-size images from being downloaded with a right-click blocker, for instance; similarly, too big a watermark might deter your visitors from actually looking at the pictures.

#3 It’s a website, not a brain puzzle

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Another sure-fire way to create the best photo portfolio website you can is to make sure it’s efficient, in terms of user-friendliness. Keep your number of featured categories at a bare minimum, too. Don’t get too creative with naming them, or the labels, tags, categories, and menu buttons you’re using. It might seem fun at first, but you also risk alienating visitors. It should be simple to get to see the pictures – and this involves a choice of wording that your viewers will understand and that is also typical of your niche.

#4 Go mobile

This is 2014 – everyone and their grandmother is browsing the web off a smartphone, tablet, or another type of mobile device. These devices have smaller screens and they also react differently to usage patterns. As such, make sure you’re investing into the development of a mobile, responsive design version for your website. The best photo portfolio website you can build is definitely not one that looks the same on a computer screen as it does on an iPhone.

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#5 You are your own worst editor

It may sound harsh and it could even be too much to stomach for some photographers, but the truth is that you’re better off hiring an editor, when trying to build a website. They will do a far better job than you at selecting the pictures in the first place, since they’re not as emotionally attached to them as you are. And, as they say, a photographer’s portfolio is only as good as the worst picture in it.

How to Relocate Your Wedding Photography Business in 3 Steps

No one’s saying they’re easy steps, but we’re saying it’s definitely feasible to relocate your wedding photography business. Now, if you’re interested in wedding photography and the business aspects of this field, you already know that the issue of location is very important. It’s relevant for a wedding photographer’s digital marketing efforts (think location searches), for acquiring new business leads, for building a brand identity and for raising brand awareness. As such, with location being so inextricably connected with the very nature of the wedding photography business, how does one successfully transition from one location to another – without killing the business in the process? Check out our three helpful tips below, with input from real-life photographers.

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1. Future-proof your business for location changes

This is one step to start working on as much ahead of the time when you actually relocate your wedding photography business as possible. Your plan should be to target global audiences, even before your physical move. If you do this successfully, you will have already built a bit of a reputation for yourself, by the time the move comes around. Easier said than done? Perhaps. But in the digital age of social networking, it’s not that difficult either. Update your website and/or blog regularly, announce your upcoming move via social media profiles and keep your online presence pleasant and likeable. The Internet basically works as a global market place, so drumming up a bit of hype before you relocate will allow you to step forward with that much more confidence.

2. Get to know your new market

This second step in your plan to relocate your wedding photography business is all about pricing. The thing about different markets is that… well, they are different, in terms of pricing, client expectations, and requirements. Get a feel of the market by gauging the experiences of local photographers. They’ll give you a fairly accurate and comprehensive idea on what to expect. Should you stay at the wedding until the very last guest has left? Are your current prices too high for a different market? Yes, bear in mind that you might have to lower your prices in order to penetrate a whole new market; however, it’s important to know what the local expectations are, as you don’t want to go too low. Once you get there, your mission will be to get as many weddings booked in as short a timeframe as possible. Since most weddings are booked for about a year in advance, you will probably have to sacrifice making a profit in the beginning, in order to build a locally relevant portfolio. If you play your cards right, though, this will only be temporary – so grin and bear it. It’s definitely worth it!

3. Network, network, network

The third and final step in your efforts to relocate your wedding photography business is also probably the most difficult one to complete. That’s because the effort of networking needs to be sustained and ongoing, in order for them to be efficient. Not to mention that having like-minded peers as friends in a new market is good for your mental health. It will make you focused, accountable for your work, and will also provide a regular dose of inspiration. A word of advice, though: you might be tempted to follow the big names, the big shots, the big leaguers in your new market. Don’t. Keep an eye on them, to stay in the loop, but spend most of your energy building genuine connections with people you respect and look up to. In the long-run, that’s where your support system and life-long friendships will come from. Also, chances are that’s where your referrals and gig leads will come from, too.

3 Updates on Social Media Tools for Wedding Photographers

We’ve written about social media tools for photographers before, but here are some fresh updates for you, for summer 2014. The wedding season is upon us and we bet you’ll come out at the other end with some great new material to showcase all over the Internet. Check out our three tips, which will hopefully help you make the most of your work, in terms of branding and exposure.

Wow them with pictures

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These social media tools for wedding photographers have been hyped endlessly already, but this is one tip that bears repeating: you need to put your content out there on Pinterest and its wedding-focused ‘little sister’, Lover.ly. You can target your audience very accurately through these websites and bring traffic back to your website and blog. However, you will need to optimize your pictures, add credits to each image, and make sure your name is included in the file title. This tiny personal branding effort will go a long way in the long run. Pro tip: you will need to be relatively active, especially in the beginning, since these sites are already teeming with great content from your direct competition. Find a way to create content that stands out, such as color-themed boards, wedding guides in pictures, etc.

Follow the right crowd

Since we’re on the topic of social media tools for wedding photographers, we have to acknowledge that there can’t be any talk of social media without connecting, following, and accruing followers. Connecting with the right crowd can be a daunting prospect, especially for an up-and-coming photographer who doesn’t have much exposure. However, if you keep a blog, a website, or at least maintain a social media presence, you might want to get bold about it and reach out to some of the big names out there in the online wedding business. There are a few blogs and websites that we would recommend anytime, like Green Wedding Shoes, Bridal Musings, and Style Me Pretty.

What makes these blogs and websites great? For one thing, they are among the most important sources of images shared via Pinterest, Tumblr, and Facebook. For another, their numbers of followers are impressive to say the least. But, most importantly, they consistently feature great quality content – which is exactly what made them massive to begin with. If you can get them to showcase some of your wedding photography work, you can count on being credited and in seeing a traffic spike on your own website. And if your outreach efforts turn out to be less successful than you’d hoped, you can always promote your work on these websites via paid advertising. It tends to run cheaper than the standard promotional fees on Facebook and Google.

Pay for promotion

The debate on the efficiency of Facebook advertising continues to rage on. Some believe that the decrease in organic reach that the social network has imposed on its users will spell the site’s demise. They argue that Twitter and YouTube are still keeping social media promotion free – and they don’t seem to be losing market share; quite the contrary! On the other hand, another faction believes that Facebook is entirely right to capitalize on its paid advertising potential. After all, they say, “if you’re not paying for a product, you are the product”.

Debates aside, investing in Facebook ads might be one of the social media tools for wedding photographers to consider, if you want to increase your reach and score new sales leads. Yes, it can be expensive, but it’s also easy to refine, in order to reach very specific targets in the audience. You’ll probably need some expertise with CPC and CPM ad campaigns, as well as with SEO and keyword research. Experiment with the keywords that connect with your particular photographic niche, target people in your area, and also target audiences connected with some of the major wedding-focused websites we mentioned above. Throw in a sweet deal or discount for your first clients and you’re all set!

YouTube Video Optimization for Photographers: 5 Tricks

youtube-video-optimization-for-photographersIf you’re a professional photographer, not only do you (hopefully) have an online showcase of your work, as well as a website and a regularly updated blog – but you are also active on social media and know a thing or two about SEO. Now, content optimization for search engines is neither brain surgery, nor rocket science, but it’s the sort of differentiator that can turn your business into a highly profitable one, when used properly. This is why today we bring you five ideas on how YouTube video optimization for photographers and videographers can bring you new business leads and help you grow your profit margin. They can be used both for branding, as well as for marketing purposes and are a great way to increase your visibility. So here’s what you need to do:

#1 Create a video

It goes without saying that the building block of YouTube video optimization for photographers is actually putting that video out there. Some photographers are camera shy, understandably enough: after all, your job is to stand behind the lens, not in front of it. But the thing is you don’t need to be on camera, in order to create your video ‘business card’, as it were. You can use a platform like Animoto to turn your pictures into a video – and you will definitely want to do that, since, in case you didn’t know, YouTube is the world’s largest search engine, second only to the web giant that owns it, Google itself.

#2 Tagging is essential for YouTube video optimization for photographers

All right, so now you’ve got your video ready to hit the intertubes – but before you upload it, there’s one essential step you need to fiddle with and perfect. That’s tagging, i.e. attaching tags to your work. They work like labels and are best employed as keywords that potential clients in your area are already searching for. They can be anything along the lines of “wedding photography in [your area]”, “[your area] wedding photographer”, or anything along those lines. Choose top targeted keywords as tags and make sure to enter them into the Details tab of the video’s properties, in the title, subtitle, target, and comment areas. In order to find the most appropriate keywords to use, you can always get some hints by using the Keyword Planner function in Google’s AdWords platform.

#3 Use a good title for your video

This one might go without saying, but it’s important to mention, since it’s the second step in our crash course on YouTube video optimization for photographers that needs to be performed before the video is uploaded. Use the top ranking keyword among those you’ve culled out to use as tags. Another important tip is to use the keyword in the beginning of the title, since this lends it more ‘weight’ in the eyes of search engine crawlers.

#4 Drive traffic back to you

The main purpose of YouTube video optimization for photographers is to lead potential business back to your main HQ, which is probably your website or online portfolio. For this purpose, you’re going to want to include a link to said domain as early on as possible in the video description. Use a clear call to action and make sure the link is visible, or else risk losing a business lead in the endless pool of distraction that is YouTube.

#5 Use GeoTagging

Chances are that, if you’re a wedding photographer, you’re going to want clients in your area to find you – receiving the admiration of viewers across the globe may be flattering but, at the end of the day, it doesn’t help lift those profit margins. So add Geo Tags to local videos, via the Advanced Settings option of your account on YouTube. Input your address, then get the precise coordinates on the map that pops up and remember to “Save Changes”. Presto – your vid is now optimized for local searches!

4 Best Practices for Wedding and Event Photography

best-practices-for-wedding-and-event-photography01During the past few years, the recession and economic turndown notwithstanding, it’s become ever clearer that event photography in general, and wedding photography in particular, have turned very competitive. It’s not just the fact that money is harder to come by generally speaking – there are now more hobbyists turning pro than before, since (semi-)professional DSLR cameras have gotten more affordable and accessible to handle. So we though a guide of best practices for wedding and event photography was in order, which is why we’ve collected some of the most essential advice on this topic that we could find on the web. Check it out and let us know if you think anything essential is missing from our list.

The selection is up to you, not the client

Events (and weddings in particular) are occasions for shooting non-stop. You fire away and, before you know it, your memory card is filled and you’ve got hundreds of photos to choose from. Curating the entire raw material and selecting the best photos might sound like a drag, a bore, and a chore, but you still need to do it. It’s up to the artist to select their best photos and present them to the client; allowing customers to wade through dozens of blurry, out-of-focus or otherwise inadequate pictures is entirely unprofessional.

Market yourself with deadlines

The above principle might sound counterintuitive, but it’s all about marketing your photography business properly in the digital era. You see, the Internet is altering purchasing mentalities as we speak – clients are much more prone now to put off a buying decision. However, with the right attitude and best practices for event and wedding photography, you can counter that. Set a deadline for yourself, create a special offer which expires after a certain date, and watch how your clients respond. Chances are many of them will react to this sense of urgency.

Business is business

Among the best practices for event and wedding photography is the fact that you need to remember you’re running a business. Sure, you may have gone into photography because it was fun, enjoyable, and you are passionate about it. However, at the end of the day you still have bills to pay, a studio to maintain, and equipment to purchase. Tailor your products and service cost planning according to your financial needs. Understand your market segment: take a good look at what sells and what doesn’t and always keep improving.

best-practices-for-wedding-and-event-photography02Build relationships

Photography is, to a large extent, a people-oriented field. If you work exclusively in non-wedding event photography, you probably already know how important it is to create a good relationship with your returning customers. The same applies for wedding photographers that regularly collaborate with a particular MUA, wedding planner, or wedding planning agency. So, what’s the best way to hone a successful professional relationship? It’s as simple as being personable, sociable, and friendly. Get people talking about you. Create word of mouth and work consistently toward building a reputation.

Looks like a pro, walks like a pro, talks like a pro…

Don’t dismiss the final item on our list of best practices for event and wedding photography as superficial. It’s important to present yourself as a professional photographer whenever you come into contact with (potential) clients. This means keeping your gear in good shape, having business cards prepared, and pitching your business – but not excessively and ad nauseam. What you want to achieve is to make (potential) clients understand that they need you. You will want them to seek you out, not the other way around, so do your research on trends, take part in wedding expos, and put your best foot forward, both in terms of professional attire, as well as in terms of professional portfolio.

7 Useful Tax Deductions for Photography Businesses

tax-deductions-for-photography-businessesLooking forward to filing your taxes on Tax Day? Well, to be earnest, who is? The good news is that, if you own and run a photo biz, there might just be several tax deductions for photography businesses that you are eligible for. Of course, take our advice below as just what it is: friendly advice, dispensed with the best intentions at hear; understand, however, that such advice is not meant to replace professional consultancy from your accountant and/or lawyer. That being said, provided you’ve kept good records of your spending throughout the past fiscal year, here are seven such deductions you should probably look into.

1. Car costs

It’s likely you drive to get to your clients or move around the area, from one shoot to the next. You may be able to pass off your automobile expenses as one of the tax deductions for photography businesses. You can track the mileage on your car, when using it for photography and apply the government’s per-mile rate to each mile driven for photo purposes (the current rate stands at $.565). Alternatively, you can work out the percentage of time that you drive your car for photography business purposes and deduct the costs for that span of time from your overall car maintenance costs.

2. Travel costs

Similarly, you can count all travel expenses that are accounted for and were incurred for your art as tax deductions for photography businesses. Of course, this means you will have to start storing and filing plane tickets, car rental receipts, taxi fare and public transport receipts, restaurant bills, hotel bills, and just about any piece of paper that proves you spent money while away traveling for a shoot.

3. Housing expenses

This one is probably going to come in handy for any photographer that runs a studio or office right out of their own home. You need to calculate how much space inside your home is allotted to your photography business, work out the costs for maintaining that particular amount of space and then file for deductions from your mortgage, home insurance, bills (for electricity, water, and anything else).

4. Office/studio costs

This is one of those tax deductions for photography businesses that’s mutually exclusive with another one – namely, the one listed above. In other words, you can’t get a tax deduction both for a home office/studio and for such a space that you’re renting out elsewhere. However, if you don’t operate your office and/or studio from the comfort of your own home, you will be able to file for a deduction for these separate business expenses.

5. Phone lines

In order to get tax deductions for photography businesses for phone lines, you need to have a separate line that you only use for your photography business. Also, it goes without saying that you need to keep a clear record of the calls you’re making, be they local or long-distance, in order to talk with clients or arrange other aspects that have to do with your business.

6. Internet and site bills

No, you can’t get all your internet bills written off as business expenses, but if you own a site dedicated to your business (and we can only hope that you do, given the fact that this is 2014) a fraction of those costs become deductibles. Figure out how much bandwidth you use for website maintenance, then file for a deduction.

7. Training

Photography is one of those fields in which an ongoing education really goes a long way. That’s why the government sees photography workshops, seminars, and courses as potential tax deduction areas. Keep good track of those expenses and make sure to include them  all, when you file for taxes.

5 2014 Wedding Photography Trends to Watch out for

The year is well underway, yet many in the field of wedding photography are wondering what the most relevant 2014 wedding photography trends are. Read on to see our picks, which include online advertising, printed albums, and a whole new esthetic, in terms of actual picture-taking.

2014-wedding-photography-trendsFine-art photojournalism is in, vintage is out

‘Fine-art photojournalism?!’, you might exclaim. What’s that? Just what it sounds like: a blend of styles that brings together the candid quality of photojournalistic shots with just a dash of the impeccable style you would expect from fashion and editorial shoots. In other words, it’s the type of photography that manages to look both glamorous and unscripted. The vintage style, popular a few seasons ago, is reportedly falling out of grace with an increasing number of photographers, who are striving for a timeless look, instead of one that just looks dated from the get-go.

Truly professional photography

It was bound to happen, wasn’t it? On the one hand, we’ve seen a virtual boom of DSLR ownership among non-professionals over the past few years. On the other, an increasing number of photography hobbyists are going pro. These two factors combined bring us to one of the most interesting 2014 wedding photography trends. The experts predict this to be the year when the professionals will need to learn to set themselves apart from the non-pros. What’s the best way to do that? By finding a niche all your own and catering to the tastes of clients who know that a friend armed with a DSLR (no matter how expensive) is not quite the same thing as hiring a professional photographer.

Spectacular wedding albums2014-wedding-photography-trends02

In terms of 2014 wedding photography trends, one thing is for sure: much like in 2013, high-quality fine-art printed albums will continue to rule. Yes, yes, we know: these days everyone and their grandmother has Internet access and is dying to share digital wedding photos on social media. However, while providing your clients with a DVD of pictures taken on the big day will remain the standard, what will truly set the professionals apart is the energy they invest into creating a beautiful book of hard-copy mementos.

Stagnant pricing

The economy is ever so slowly recovering, but while this doesn’t justify price increases, the afflux of hobbyists turned professionals in the field of wedding photography warrants that prices will stay the same. This is not necessarily a bad thing, as it means the clientele is getting used to the idea that access to professional wedding photography services is something that comes at a price. In brief, the clients are becoming educated – and this is happening thanks to a handful of professional wedding photogs who are standing their ground, even in the face of economic sluggishness. What they’re doing actually benefits the entire field, since it means that emerging photographers don’t have to start out from the very bottom, in terms of fees.

2014-wedding-photography-trends03Wedding photography blogs

They’ve been around for just about as long as high-speed Internet connections, but the experts in 2014 wedding photography trends say that they’re here to stay for this year. It’s all thanks to the increasing weight and importance of online advertising. Social media has a lot to do with it, but so do the hefty prices that photographers are expected to pay, in order to have their work exhibited in bridal shows. Print advertising overall is declining and that’s obviously because there’s no comparing online publicity to what money can buy offline. As numerous professional wedding photogs are saying, these days a massive part of their business is coming in from their blog – so if you don’t have one already, you’d better get to it.

Photographer’s Best Friend: Google Reverse Image Search

It’s all diff’rent strokes for diff’rent folks when it comes to image usage and propagation online: while some photographers are happy to have their work featured on Tumblr, Facebook, various blogs, and media outlets, others are less than excited about it. Today’s post is for those who fall in the latter category, rather than the former. It’s here to teach you how to use Google reverse image search, in order to find your pictures all over the web. Perhaps you’re not happy with not being credited, or maybe your image is used in a context you don’t want to be associated with. Whatever your reasons may be, here’s the way to find those pictures and prevent further occurrences from happening.

How to start the Google reverse image search

Image search is a service provided by search engine giant Google, in order to help others find specific photos online; conversely, the Google reverse image search is what you do when you have the image already, but want to know who else has it and has been using it. There are two ways to start your Google reverse image search: one is by uploading your photo into the Google images search bar, and the other is by copying the photo’s original URL (say, off your own blog or website) and pasting into the search bar. As far as the first option goes, you can also simply drag and drop the image into the search bar, if you find this easier.

The Google reverse image search results

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Photo via Photo Shelter

The results that Google reverse image search delivers look much like a collage of visually similar pictures. Note that they may not all be precise and exact matches of your photo. However, chances are you will come across websites that have been using the photo without your explicit authorization. Another great feature that Google delivers at this point is a brief text-based description of your photo and the context in which it’s being used. Perhaps yours is not so much a case of being offended by ‘photo theft’, but maybe the website owner or blogger that’s featuring your work has misspelled your name or attributed the image to someone else by mistake. This feature will allow you to identify such errors and contact the people in question, to ask them to amend the issue. You can also use the advanced image search page to find your work online. Google can help you specify various words your photo might be used in context with. It will let you whittle down the results by image size, aspect ratio, colors, type, usage rights, and many other filters.

More Google reverse image search tips & tricks

–          Search for as many different variants of the same photo, even if the differences between them and the original picture are subtle – especially if you’ve uploaded more than one version of the same photo online. Some might be cropped differently or uploaded in other color schemes.

–          You might find your work online edited by third parties: cropped, rotated, in black and white, etc.. Try searching for differently Photoshopped variants of your own work by creating these variations yourself.

–          Don’t disregard smaller sizes of your image. Perhaps someone has resized an initially large photo and is using it as such. Google has a harder time spotting visually similar images in smaller sizes, because, the smaller the photo, the less data it has to work with. Resize the photos yourself and look for them like this.

In terms of what you decide to do with the results, the choice is entirely up to you. It all has to do with the way you license your work and whether or not the people using the pictures are making money off your back – case in which you might even decide to prosecute for copyright infringement.