Where Else Has That Image Been Used

This tutorial relates to a previous article where I questioned if stock photos were the best. I’m not against stock photos, but I think people should consider the context and frequency of use. Below are two reverse image search engines that you can use to see where an image has been used on the web. This is useful in evaluating if a photo has been overexposed or if someone else is using your images without permission.

To keep this example simple and not worry about image rights, I’m going to try to find one of my own images from my previous Ghostery review.

  1. Go to the page that has the image you’d like to check. It could be any web page including a stock photo sample page.
  2. When you find the image, right-click and select Copy image URL. The option may be worded slightly different based on your web browser.
menu showing copy image url item
Copying the Image URL
  1. Go to http://tineye.com/

Note: there are 4 ways to submit images. If the image isn’t on the web, you can upload one from your computer or drag the file onto the page. There are also browser extensions.

  1. Paste your image into the textbox.
  2. Click Search.
TinEye file options enumerated
TinEye File Check Options

After a few seconds, TinEye will show the results. In this case, TinEye did not find any webpages with this image. This makes sense as the story is new and I don’t expect people to copy it.

search result form TinEye
No matching images found

In some cases like stock photos, you may see high counts in the thousands. You can scroll down and see where the image appears. The image that produced the 1494 Results below was from one of the overused examples I mentioned.

example of searching for stock photo
Stock photo results

What is intriguing about TinEye is that the image you enter for your search doesn’t have to be an exact match, just close enough. Their algorithm is smart enough to find people who have altered images. This is evident on stock photos where some people try to alter the watermark or colors. If you read about their image submissions, you’ll see that many of the stock photo companies are their content partners which explain why they have billions of images in their database.

In this method, I expect Google to find the same image because I don’t exclude my image files in my robots.txt file.

  1. Browse to the webpage that contains your image.
  2. Right-click the image and select “copy image URL
  3. Go to http://images.google.com/ and click the small camera icon to the right.
Google image search textbox
  1. Paste in the URL from Step 1.
URL pasted into textbox
Adding in an image URL
  1. Click the Search by image button.

As you can see, Google Image Search found my picture and provides the reference and text snippet.

Google image results
Finding the web page

Whether you’re evaluating content for your own site or protecting your images, TinEye and Google Image Search can help find where else the image shows. However, you’ll have to use your judgment as to whether it’s the best photo for your story and audience.