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I would draw the path and then turn on Smart Guides (CMD+U) to snap a particular point on the images along the path. See my attached screenshot. I did this with rectangles, but you could also use placed images. Then just delete the curved line when you are done using it for placement.
If you want a regular distribution along the path, you may:
1) Create a Scatter Brush from a rectangle of the same size, setting the distance as desired, and having the orientation aligned to Page or to Path (to follow the path);
2) Apply the Scatter Brush to the path and adjust;
3) Object>Expand the brushed path to have the rectangles selectable;
4) Place each image and Align>Align Objects vertically and horizontally centred;
5) If aligned to Path, turn to fit the angle;
6) DirectSelect and Remove the rectangles.
1) Create a Scatter Brush from a rectangle of the same size, setting the
distance as desired, and having the orientation aligned to Page or to Path
(to follow the path);
I thought about doing it this way, but I was worried about distortion
(stretching). Would this cause any distortion in the images?
As far as I know there should be no distortion possible apart from small unavoidable inaccuracy when rotating, the basic concept being a scattered pattern, and I have not seen any when used.