Pinterest and Stock Photography

Pinterest is a social networking site that has been gaining a lot of following in recent months. For those of you not familiar with the site, it is basically a place where people share things they have found online with others. It's kind of like bookmarking a page in your browser and making it public to the world. The difference is that this is done visually, and most users organize their topics into boards that they "pin" sites they find of "interest". The pinned site is shown on Pinterest by a single picture that the user selects from the page they are sharing. Once shared, a pin can be repinned by others over and over and over. Pinterest is driven by pictures ... pretty pictures. If you take a closer look, Pinterest is driven by pretty pictures that are really stock photos.

So what does this mean for us as stock photographers?

One thing this means is that we have a whole new place to market our images, and this one is truly designed with eye-catching images in mind. You do not need a large following for your pins to be found -- pins and boards can be searched for by description. But, a large following definitely helps get your images "out there" quickly. The nice thing is that when an image is clicked on, users are taken to the site that the image is from.

Since our pictures are linked back to our websites, we can use Pinterest to drive web traffic to our businesses -- or to our Dreamstime portfolio. Several recent news articles have discussed how Pinterest is bringing more visitors to many sites than Facebook, Twitter, and Google Plus. (This really depends upon a site's content and target audience -- a very large percentage of Pinterest users are females in their 20s and 30s.)

Pinterest does allow the link that is associated with an image to be modified. To do this, a user simply goes to the item he or she has pinned, selects "Edit", and changes URL in the link. This feature probably exists so that pages that do not have images can still be pinned. We Dreamstime users can also use this feature to make sure that our referral ID is attached to any our of DT images that we pin. The downside to this feature is that other people can use our image and have it link to their sites.

How do we report images that are being misused?

Pinterest has a simple method of reporting misused images. All we have to do is click on a pin, select "Report Pin" from the options on the right, and fill out the form related to intellectual property. You can only report pins that are using your own copyrighted material. I've only used this feature once (someone had taken an image from my site and was using it to point to their own), but Pinterest was very quick to remove the pin and to send me an email that it was taken care of.

What is a misused image?

Ah, now we are in debated territory. Unfortunately, most people today do not even know that it is wrong to use someone else's photography on their website with-out permission. Some people think it is okay as long as they give credit. Some think it's okay if it is watermarked since that shows who the owner is. Most people honestly do not know that they need permission, and in many cases that they need to buy the rights to use an image. The rule is not so clear when it comes to search engines. Should Google, Live, and Yahoo! be able to display our images with-out compensation? This is has been debated many times, and Pinterest is really in a similar category. The bottom line is that if you do not want your image to be on their site, report it when you find it.

How do we protect our images?

The easiest way is to use a watermark for anything that we want protected that we make available electronically. If you use a watermark with your website address, stolen images can actually be used as advertisements and bring other people back to your site. Watermarking provides a (limited) level of protection across all of the Internet

Pinterest has provided one other method of protection. If you do not want your site shared on Pinterest, add the following meta tag to your site: If you do this, any user who tries to pin something from your site will see the following message: "This site doesn't allow pinning to Pinterest. Please contact the owner with any questions. Thanks for visiting!"

How do I see what images from my site are already on Pinterest?

To find pins linking to our (or any) site on Pinterest, simply enter the following in the URL bar: For example, click here to see what pins link to Dreamstime:

So what do you think?

As a stock photographer, what do you think of Pinterest? Is it a great way of sharing your images and advertising, or is it a great way for your images to be used illegally? Are you okay with sharing your own images? Are you okay with others sharing your images? Personally, I am very glad to see my work shared on Pinterest -- as long as it links back to my site, portfolio, or to where the image can be purchased. But what do you think? I'd love to hear your comments below.

Photo credits: Cheryl - Annette Parker, Marek Uliasz.

Your article must be written in English



Very useful info! Didn't know about "nopin" meta tag on Pinterest! Thanks for sharing! :)


Great information!
Thanks for sharing.


Agree with Brad and Wisconsinart, surly this would be the same reason we should not plaster all our images over other social network sites like Facebook etc. I throw a few up for feedback from time to time but the amount of watermarked images out there is huge. I'm sure buyers are not randomly searching these sites for images when they could just come here and see nearly 14 million that are pretty easy to search. On the other side, I'll go take a look at it :-)


We definitely can share our images on Pinterest (either manually, or with the Pin It extension in Firefox). I just found it interesting that Pinterest is not amongst the over 300 social networking share options that is provided through the "Share" icon here on the Dreamstime blogs.


I also have seen some Dreamstime images, and they do direct here to Dreamstime.


This is really interesting, since I am addicted to Pinterest and Dreamstime. I love great images. My question is if you place a Pinterest symbol here would that be a good way of tracking the images so buyers can purchase from this site. For example, I LOVE culinary images and many of the sites are placing the "pin it" symbol on the site and the image is directed back to the site. I believe that is the whole idea as to return the interested party back to your site. As you mentioned many people have no idea they may be in copyright violation. I am sure there has to be a way to have a win win for the photographers here. BTW, I have seen a few Dreamstime images and they DO have the watermark on them.


Thanks for your feedback. Several of you mentioned how we cannot know for sure how many (if any) people find our Dreamstime images through social networks. However, if we have our own website, we can get a better feel for some of this by analyzing our web traffic stats. There are ways to target certain sites for certain audiences and social markets. To stay with the Pinterest example, if we wish to market there, then it is important that each page of our sites have at least one good pinable image (and possibly have the Pinterest share button). If we don't want it there, then we can use the "nopin" meta tag.

As a side note, I find it interesting that DT has over 300 social networking sites we can share blogs with (see Share button above), but Pinterest is not amongst them.


interesting article


The general quality of blog posts here has made a great leap in recent times, imho. I'm really enjoying these posts, that are well written, well argumented and structured - and USEFUL! Thank you!


Well written :)
The "REAL" question behind is: Where do our buyers come from?

Does many buyers come from:
a) image search engines (google images)
b) image display social networks (facebook, pinterest)
c) affiliated websites reselling DT images
d) DT search

So, are our buyers already here and searching DT for the images or do they get here from somewhere else? I would love to see some statistics on that (but hey, top secret ;)
Pin it, tweet it, facebook it ... any promotion is good. But is it worth it?


I'm using pinterest for a month and loving it.
I do intend to pin my own images, but didn't knew of the editing feature. Thank you and very usefull information.
Wisconsinart, I dont know if I sold any image because of social media, as I'm still new here, but I had already 3 persons subscribed to Dreamstime just because I share my images on G+ with my link, so, even if they dont buy my images, and buy someone elses, or decide to sell here, I will still win.




Quite the opposite - I'm with you (Wisconsinart) on the social networks. I think your work is much more likely to be 'borrowed'/stolen for web use if linked on social media sites. The idea that buyers would follow me on Twitter or FB to be informed about my sales is just wrong. Social media surely plays a role in advertising for wedding photographers and photographers who specialize in school seniors portraits, but other than that I just don't see the link. A quick glance at pinterest makes me frustrated about the number of blogs and articles online using watermarked images... I'm not jumping in there for the hope of sales!


To be honest, I think social network sites are a waste of time as a promotional tool. I'm going to get flamed for saying that but show me a Buyer searching soc net sites looking for images. The Buyers are already here at DT.


Nice overview. Looking around Pinterest one sees that its awash with all sorts of copyright violations and "borrowed" images. Hardly any have watermarks. If you click on a random picture often the link is just the jpg or to Google images. Or you might get sent to a blog that used the image. Like you say it is possible to use Pinterest as a promotion tool if you protect your image. Most of the problems come from others who use our image. Or repin without giving credit. Surely corporations who make money off individuals images (Google, Pinterest etc) could do more to educate people about copyrights and figure out a way to embed copyright info in the image that follows it around.

Related image searches
Pinterest related image searches
To provide you with additional information about how we collect and use your personal data, we've recently updated our Privacy Policy and Terms of Service. Please review these pages now, as they apply to your continued use of our website.