Blogging / Photography / Presentations / Uncategorized / Web 2.0 Tools

Where did you get that cool photo? TinEye saves the day.

In an age where digital media can be saved-as, copied/pasted, and otherwise passed around without much effort, a tool has been designed to help you track down original work or variations of a photo.  TinEye Reverse Image Search is just that tool.

One evening while browsing Reddit, I came across an beautiful photo of a sunset that had some amazing colors in it.  If you’re familiar with the way message boards and forums allow you to post pictures, you wouldn’t be surprised to hear that there was no reference or credit given to the owner of the photo.

Original photo:

Before I use a photo or image owned by someone else, I check to make sure that it’s either licensed under Creative Commons or that I have permission from the author to use it.  In the case of this photo, I wanted to find out who took the photo and if I would be allowed to use it.

TinEye to the rescue!

If you go to, you can upload an image from your computer or enter the web address (URL) of an image you want more information about.  Self-described:

TinEye is a reverse image search engine. It finds out where an image came from, how it is being used, if modified versions of the image exist, or if there is a higher resolution version.

More than 2 billion images have been indexed by TinEye, and the number is growing by the day.  But back to my story…

The image was on my computer, so I went to and uploaded it.  Within a few seconds, TinEye had found the image I uploaded in thirty-three locations on the web.

The third result on TinEye showed the URL as being from a Flickr page, which is a common place for people to store (and share) their photos.  A quick click of the link, and I was on the page of the photographer and owner of the photo. Whew!  Half-way there.

I emailed the owner asking for permission to use his photo (in this blog post) and he happily agreed.  Nice guy, eh?

In a nutshell, TinEye helps you find information about a photo that a) you saved on your computer from who-knows-where or b) you found while browsing the deep dark spaces of the internet.  Either way, this can be a useful tool for everyone from grade school students to marketing professionals to the average Joe that just likes to collect cool images.

By the way, there is also a TinEye Firefox plugin that allows you to right-click and “search on TinEye” right from your current browser page.  Oh, and did I mention that it’s free?  Hope you find this useful!

3 thoughts on “Where did you get that cool photo? TinEye saves the day.

  1. I also try very hard to respect copyright and have used Tineye for this purpose. It’s difficult though when a search either returns no results or far too many to go through. It would be nice if there was some way to narrow the search, or sort the results.

    • Great to hear that you’re finding Tineye useful. It’s a relatively new tool, so I’m hoping a more advanced search function will be created based on all the image data that Tineye is indexing. I’ll keep an eye out for improvements and updates.

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