What to do if someone steals your photo?


It’s that horrible feeling when you see one of your photos being used on someone else’s account. I’ve had people use a few of my photos without consent, mainly a couple of flower photos or a landscape photo or two…thankfully never a photography of my children. 

Most people are honest and they’ll ask if they can use one of my photos or they can download a selection of my photos on my Unsplash account. These people give credit and you get a warm glowing feeling with the fact that people actually like your photos. 

I’ve known people who’ve had many photos stolen and in a very rare case, someone’s whole Instagram account was cloned…imagine that fear. 

This doesn’t just happen on Instagram but I’ve also had it happen on various websites…one just the other month where they were trying to sell my photos. The worst ones are the accounts who taken your photo and then add a rubbish filter over the top…yuck. 

I no longer take it to heart and simply follow a method that seems to work so I thought I’d share it with you. 

  • Firstly before getting in touch with them, take a screenshot. It gives you evidence that your photo has been used, do this for all images of yours that have been taken. 
  • If on Instagram, comment on the photos. Simply ask them to credit you in a polite manner. 9/10 times this will sort the issue and it might be that the account wasn’t aware that they were doing anything wrong. 
  • Failing that, email/contact them. Lot’s of accounts now have a contact button on their profile or allow people to message them. Simply drop them a message asking them to credit or remove the image. 
  • On Instagram file a copyright infringement. For this, you’ll need to fill in a form and provide links to both the stolen image and link to your original. Instagram will remove the post within 24 hours. This is the last resort for me as it’s a long form so think about, is it worth it? Don’t report the image as spam or abuse as it’s neither of these and nothing will happen. 

A few years ago this happened quite a bit with new accounts popping up but it seems to happen less and less. Most people are aware of the ReGram apps and are pretty clued up when it comes to reposting images. 

Most of the accounts that do it are ones who are trying to promote a location or a lifestyle type of account and aren’t aware or claim they weren’t aware that this wasn’t allowed. 

There is another way to look at this. The image stolen is it worth the time and energy to hunt down a new account with a few hundred followers? Is it doing you any harm? 

I know photographers who see it as a compliment, they are excited that people are enjoying their photos so much. You could shut your account to private, but often we want people to see our photographs otherwise we’d just keep them on hard-drive. 

We don’t get upset when people share our items on Pinterest or Facebook so is this any different? I’m not saying its right and it’s difficult to think like this…I do draw the line at people making money from my work. 


It’s difficult to protect yourself from this apart from setting your account to private but then most of us share our photos on Facebook and Twitter so if they want they can just grab them from there too. The best way is to keep an eye out and have a group of friends who look out for each other. 

Have you ever had any issues like this? How did you deal with it?