Why TinEye is a comper’s best friend

TinEye is my new favourite website. This clever site conducts a ‘reverse image’ search, which is useful in all sorts of comping situations. The idea is that you show TinEye a photo and it will try to locate copies of it – so if you need to identify a place, person, movie scene, record sleeve (or anything!) it can often track down the original on the internet. Magic!

As an example, each week I enter the Observer’s Viewfinder competition, where you guess the location from a series of text and visual clues online. Some weeks the photo clues would infuriate me for hours! 

Now though, if I get stuck I simply search for the image at tineye.com. Here’s an example screengrab, where TinEye has found 1 result for this week’s photo clue of a ballroom – the file is called ‘Blackpool Tower Ballroom’, so there’s my answer! 

Slightly off topic here, but If you want to enter this week’s competition to win £150 Hotels.com vouchers, simply email the answer ‘Blackpool’ to viewfinder@observer.co.uk with your name and address details before 4th August 2011! Now, back to TinEye…

Using TinEye 
There are several ways you can use TinEye to search for an image: 
  • copy and paste a page or image URL into the Search box at www.tineye.com
  • take a screenshot of a photo on your screen (use cmd-shift-4 on a Mac or the Snipping Tool on a PC), click the ‘Upload your Image’ button and choose your screenshot file
  • download the TinEye plug-in for your browser, which means that you’re able to right-click on any image whilst browsing the web, and choose ‘Search with TinEye’ from the bottom of the menu
The great thing about TinEye is that it doesn’t have to be an exact match! Your photo can be a different crop, colour or even been retouched – it will search and display any close results.


TinEye has come to my rescue in several comping situations:

BizzyBee gloves recently ran a quirky comp where they added rubber gloves to various old movie star photos, and the first ten people to guess and email the identity of this celebrity won a pair of BizzyBees:

I searched for this photo and, even though the pink gloves had been Photoshopped on, TinEye found the original photo on Flickr and after clicking the link I identified our celebrity as Ginger Rogers. Everyone else was still struggling on Facebook so I posted a cheeky clue to her identity on Twitter to help out!


Voucher Hub ran a fun ‘Pin the Tail on the Hog’ competition this week, giving £15 iTunes vouchers to the first ten people to correctly guess a grid reference for the base of the piggy’s tail, which they had retouched out in Photoshop. This time, I screengrabbed the image and uploaded to TinEye – sure enough it came back with a search result from istockphoto.com. I was then able to guess the winning square – it was still difficult as the grid squares were small, and my first guess was wrong – but they gave us a second attempt, so I was spot on with O12 and won my voucher. My background is in design and Photoshop, so I do have a natural advantage in these type of competitions – I look for inconsistencies in the photograph detail – but it was nice for TinEye to give me a helping hand! 

Finally, TinEye is a useful tool if you have suspicions that an entry for a photo competition isn’t genuine. Sadly, this is becoming a more common occurrence with the flurry of photo and recipe competitions on Facebook right now, with lazy entrants quickly googling for an image they can claim as their own entry rather than making the recipe or taking the photo themselves. Using TinEye, you can upload the offending photo and check if it has been taken from Flickr, or a stock photography site such as iStockphoto or Shutterstock. Using this method I identified cheaters in the recent BirdsEye, Marmite and Apetina competitions, informed the promoters and had the images removed from the competition. In these situations, I do recommend to promoters that they should insist that the photograph or story actually features their product. This will ensure that entries are created or written specifically for the competition, and provide the promoter with lots of entries featuring their product/brand name, which is a great free marketing tool on Facebook walls or Twitpic!

So there you have it – an introduction to TinEye. I hope you manage to find it a useful tool for your comping too!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.