6 Ways to Protect Yourself

Guest Blog for Breathe HR Partner Blog


A female fitness instructor in front of the class with her arms raised

If you’re using photographs to market your business, then there are a few things that you need to consider.



Don’t go!

If you’d like to ease yourself into this topic, check out this story.  I use this in my workshop and it is amazing how different people react to it.  What do you reckon?

When you source your photographs, make sure you don’t scrape any willy-nilly from online and just use them.  It’s completely unprofessional, plus you may get caught and fined.  If you use stock imagery, also be aware and use with caution (there are some fab sites so no reason to get caught out).  Here are some free leaflets to help.


Clients sometimes ask us if they ‘own’ the photographs we take for them.  Fact is, unless you pay for an Exclusive, All Rights Licence, then no.  The law states that copyright is owned by the person (or monkey? See above.) that clicked the shutter.  That is where licensing comes into play.









Licensing is basically the agreement between a business and a photographer that states how the images can be used, by whom and where.  These are the basic types:


jogger looking at his FitBit



This licence allows you to distribute the photographs as you like, and the photographer can do the same.


This licence will have some restrictions about how you use your photographs and also the photographer.


This is basically a ‘anyone can do anything’ licence, and not one you have a lot of control over.


At Vervate, we keep it as simple as possible and will use an Exclusive type Licence for businesses – we call it our Commercial Licence.  If we are working with vulnerable subjects, we place further restrictions on how we can use the images and agree an Exclusive Licence.  So just check which licence you are agreeing to with your photographer.



This is particularly pertaining to staff portraits when they are being used on a website or social media.  It is always good practice to ensure there are straightforward, shared and considerate policies in place for imagery of staff.  There are issues of culture, privacy and self esteem that need to be addressed.

Then there is…

Ok so I am going to say it. GDPR.

At the time of writing, the legislation remains unclear as to implications for photographs.  After all they are identifiable personal data.  Ensure that you do consider GDPR requirements in relation to your staff photography.



You work hard for your brand, and your social story online.  Here are some key actions you can take to protect your brand imagery:

Remember: Nothing is safe!

So, yes the cheery bit first!  I’m afraid in reality there is very little you can do to 100% keep your images safe.  Just bear that in mind that at some stage it may well be used by someone else.  Here are some things you can do to protect them:

Re-size your images

This is good practice to make sure your web site loads quickly.  It can also be used as a way to make the images less useful to someone wanting to steal them.

Caption your images

You can add your own information – such as who took the image, who owns it and what it is – when you upload to most websites [the Caption and Alt Text].  Here is a bit more information about captioning.

Right Click Protect

This is a great stumbling block – it means that no-one can right click on your image and ‘Save As.’


Screenshot of how to save an image that is not protected


If you want to check out if any of your images have been used without your knowledge, use something like Tin Eye or Google Image Search.



Particularly with GDPR legislation, but also in relation to good practice – take care of your photographs.  For one thing if you just shove them onto a shared drive, you’ll lose track of them.  For another thing, it is your legal responsibility to protect the images.  So use a trusted cloud host, double encrypt your external hard drives and make sure everything is labelled.


Having a document that lays out the key areas of your brand is really helpful, and if you have staff, or use external providers like designers, it’s vital.  Everyone needs to know what kind of photographs are on-brand, how to use them, etc.  Here is a good article by Canva on some of the things to consider when putting together a Brand or Visual Style Guide.


Take Aways:

  • Follow good principles yourself in sourcing photographs
  • Protect your images – they are YOUR BRAND
  • Credit the photographer on your website or at least give them a social media big-up
  • Communicate and listen to your staff about imagery – monitor it regularly


Vervate are photography experts.  If you have queries about any of the above, then contact Susi, our Creative Director HERE


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