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Galleries, ShootProof
May 2024

How to Protect Your Photos Against Theft

5 min read

Worried about a client screenshotting your photos and using them without permission? Don’t want your photos to be misused? There are steps you can take to protect your photos against theft (and they’re not too complicated or time-consuming, either.)

Keep reading until the end because we have an exciting announcement about a NEW ShootProof feature that’ll help you protect your photos!

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Use metadata to protect your photos

Metadata is information stored in your photograph’s digital file. If someone looks at your image’s properties or views your images in an image manipulation program, they can see your metadata. Some metadata is embedded or created by your camera when you take a photo. 

Embedded metadata usually includes:

  • Date and time the image was taken
  • Location it was taken
  • Device and settings
  • Color space
  • Dimensions, resolution, file size, etc.

Descriptive metadata, on the other hand, may be added using your photo editing software. Copyright and usage rights are the most important descriptive metadata we recommend you add. This information informs others that you own the image, and they can’t legally use it without your permission.

Although it may sound intimidating, adding metadata is easy. In Photoshop, go to File > File Info. In the dialog box, add the details you’d like to include, then click OK.

Screenshot 2024 05 06 at 7.58.45 PM

In Lightroom, when exporting, you can decide what is included in the image’s metadata. Go to File > Export, and then scroll down to find Metadata.

Screenshot 2024 05 06 at 7.01.06 PM

Control who has access to your photos to protect them

One way to nip image theft in the bud is to control who has access to your photos in the first place. With ShootProof, it’s easy to share photos with your clients, while also protecting your work from unwanted access, by password-protecting galleries and requiring a PIN for digital downloads. You can even designate a “Linked Contact”, giving them unique download permissions. 

Marking a gallery “Private” ensures it’s only accessible through a direct link you share with your client. Optionally requiring gallery visitors to provide their email address to enter the gallery allows you to have a complete record of who accessed the gallery, and when.

Educate your clients on protecting their images

At some point, we’ll all experience a client who screenshots an image and shares it on social media.

Before reacting harshly, take a deep breath and consider their intent. The fact is, most non-photographers aren’t educated on copyright, and it’s our collective responsibility to help them understand.

Communication is key! Include clear usage terms in your contract, and review the most important clauses with your client before they sign to ensure they understand.

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Protect your photos from theft with ShootProof’s AI-Resistant Watermarks

One last piece of advice for protecting your images: use our brand new feature, AI-resistant watermarks! This feature thwarts AI’s attempts at unlawfully removing watermarks from your images, giving you more control over how your photos are used.

This new feature adds a layer of noise to your watermark, making it difficult for AI tools to distinguish the watermark from the image, thus deterring it from removing the watermark data from your image.

AI-resistant watermarking is still in its beta phase, but you can start using it now! Simply log in to your ShootProof account and click the “Strengthen against AI watermark removal tools” box within “Galleries > Watermarks.” This way, it’ll be ready when you upload your next gallery!  

AI Resistant Watermarks

Each of the image protection methods we’ve described is useful on its own, but when used in combination, these tools become a powerful arsenal against image theft. Applying proper metadata to your images, educating clients on usage rights, limiting access to galleries and downloads, and using ShootProof’s new AI-resistant watermarks will put you back in control of your own work.

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At ShootProof, your feedback drives our innovation, and we’re always working to improve your (and your clients’) experience. Ready to give our watermarking feature a try? Login to your ShootProof account now and check it out!

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