Uploading Photographs of Your Art. Learn about the Dangers of Geotagging

If you value your privacy and property read on.

I work with some very tech savvy individuals. We pride ourselves on being well-informed about image capture technology and cameras of all types—including smart phones (in my case, the iphone).

We upload photographs on Flickr, Facebook and our blog to assist with marketing art collections and our various businesses. We  also take full advantage of using photographs to help sell off photographic equipment on Craigslist. All smart—right?

After watching this video about Geotagging and doing some further research, I will be doing business more cautiously.

(if you cannot see above video, go direct to the ABC Local 7 News site)

So what is Geotagging?

Wikipedia describes Geotagging as: The process of adding geographical identification metadata to various media such as photographs, video, websites, SMS messages, or RSS feeds. These data usually consist of latitude and longitude coordinates, though they can also include altitude, bearing, distance, accuracy data, and place names. It is commonly used for photographs.

Geotagging of photographs has been available for a few years. In most cameras and smart phones it is a standard feature (with the manufacturer pre-set at “on”). It’s a great tool for cataloguing travel photography and scouting locations. But like most good things it has a down side.

Online publishing of geotagged photos (that feature your family, studio, expensive art, and $$$ equipment) could bring danger right to your front door.

I make a consciouse effort to practise safe business habits online, but in this case I just hadn’t connected the dots.

Think I’m exaggerating?

You don’t need to be a “hacker” to source the metadata from a photographic file. It took my husband less than 5 minutes to dig into the metadata on a recent photograph shot using our iphone. We plugged the coordinates into Google Maps and there was our home including our street address—scary.

5 Steps for How You Can Protect Yourself and Your Family?

1. Turn off the geotagging feature on your smart phone, iphone and camera.

Use this feature selectively. Save for travel photography or when you are using your camera for scouting locations. Be careful not to post geotagged images “while you are away on vacation”, including Tweeting photos while you are “out and about”. This tells the public that you are not at home.

2. Talk to your family about using the internet and social media safely

Emphasize that nothing is private online. And once a photograph is published or a location is geotagged online it’s there for the world to see—forever.

3. If you are writing a blog, posting on Facebook, Flickr or to an art directory or portfolio site don’t upload your images until you have stripped them of the metadata (there are tools available).

4. Simply disable your geotagging on your phone, or do not post images taken with your smart phone online.

5. Share this post with family, friends and collegues. We all need to at informed about the pro’s and con’s of smart phone and camera technology. And the caution that should be taken when we choose to work and socialize online.

Today’s world requires us to do business online, including publishing photographs online.  Protect your family and your business by practicing safe online business habits—remember, once it’s published online it’s there forever.

Related Posts:

Protecting Your Professional Image. Learn how your online social networking may be hurting your art business.

iphoneography: New Artform, Artist Tool or Fad?

Flickr: Art Marketing and Image Management All-In-One

Related Links from Around the Web

Getting Smart About Personal Technology: “Gadgetwise Blog” at nytimes.com

Learn about how metadata can be found in regular documents using Word.