One of the most rewarding aspects of working in this industry, is finding your photos in use. And as soon as you sold your first photo, these questions will haunt you: “Who bought it?”, “Where my photo was used?”.
The questions above are not an easy ones. Often, photographers find their first photos in use only after hundreds and thousands of sales. Microstocks provide very little help in this quest – Istock offers “Designer Spotlight”, Fotolia used to show buyer (rumor has it, that it was discontinued after buyers were flooded with these questions from photographers)… and that’s probably it. Russian microstock lori.ru still shows the buyers’ names.
Obviously, there is always a chance to come across your photo in the magazine, book, TV or on a billboard. And it is certainly the most pleasant one. I still remember my excitement when I discovered my photo of red pepper in the “Financial Director” magazine which I was lazily browsing in the office. I have seen my photos in other magazines which I subscribe to (“Oil&gas Journal”, “Accontancy Age”), I have even saw one appearing in commercial on Turkish TV channel, but the most fruitful source remains an internet, which helped find many hundreds of my photos in use. So, let’s see what tools are available to us.
Google.com (main method)
This method uses advanced search properties and excludes microstock sites from your search. Follow the same logic for sites not listed above.
Things to keep in mind:
- google.com is the best search engine, but not the only one. Although, they use similar technologies, the results may vary depending on their index penetration. Try others for additional exposure (e.g. bing.com, yahoo.com, altavista.com). Their
- if you use different usernames at microstocks, you need to test for all of them
- your microstock display name must be somewhat original. If your name is John Smith… well, there are just too many of you (see method 2))
Google.com (additional method)
If your name (username) is very common in the internet, using the method above will produce too many results. Click the following search phrases for google (or any other search engine) and replace “your name” with your name:
Tineye.com uses image identification technology, and finds photos even after they have been modified. (See wiki article for more). All you need to do, is to enter the image URL into their search engine – Tineye.com.
However, this is very slow method. Tineye offers Firefox plug-in which is a quicker way (download it here). Plugin adds an option “Search Image on Tineye” to your right-click menu. Right-click any of the photos in your portfolio and choose this option, and hopefully, you will find some.
My experience suggests that this method is most effective for images with more than 50 sale, but feel free to try for any.
Issuu.com – is an online library for magazines, books and newspapers. (See wiki article for more). Enter your name in their search engine, and make sure you use “All” option rather than default “Documents”.
This is not very effective method, e.g. “Arcurs” yields only 139 matches against millions of photos he sold ( I got 4), but if you have niche portfolio, find the publications in that niche, and just browse them (publishers usually do not mention authors of photos). Even if your don’t find any of your photos, I’m sure you will find lots of ideas for future shoots.
Amazon.com allows the search in their product database, but usually the finds will be their books section. Just go to amazon.com and enter your name in search box.
Just like Issuu.com, this is unlikely to produce many finds (“Arcurs” yields a few dozens, I got 4), but it is a quick check and worth trying.
However, there are limitations:
- you need to have an account with a purchase history to view the search results
- to see the actual usage, the excerpt from the book must be available on amazon.com
This is really a variation of Google search, but I thought I would give it a special mention. Google has a handy service called google alerts - when google finds your search query, it emails you a link to it. If you put your name as “alert” word, then you will be notified whenever Google sees your name. Most of the time, these will be links to your images at microstocks, but I did find a few photo in use with the help of Google alerts.