Photo Credit 101


Birds with photo print and pencil

Incorrect or, gasp, no attribution can lead to nasty emails from photographers or — even worse — hefty fines from the copyright owner. Follow these guidelines to be sure you’re crediting your photos and images correctly.

What’s the best way to attribute an image you want to use on your blog, social media post or website?

Truth be told, it’s to not have to. Think about saving some time by simply paying a few bucks for an image you love. Some example services that charge a small fee to use their images are Adobe Stock, iStock, Shutterstock, Envato, and Dreamstime. For a nominal fee, you can extend the license to use the image however you want (personal & commercial use).

Not interested in forking over any cash?

There’s a whole internet world out there filled with free stock and all you need to do is take a little more time in attributing and voila! the image is yours to use.

The website Pixabay is an easy way to find images in which the author has waived all their copyrights to, and in which you do not need to attribute the work. Pixabay would appreciate a link to their site and you should also be aware of their additional usage guidelines.

The images you’ll find on Pixabay were originally on the Creative Commons website, a wonderful but often unwieldy resource for free images. Unlike Pixabay, Creative Commons requires an attribution (see image below).

Panton Color Formula Guide Swatches
By Parhamr, CC-BY-SA-3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

If you decide to use Creative Commons for free images, be sure to reference these easy to understand graphics that demonstrating their Best Practices for Attribution.

If you have a lot of time on your hands and really don’t want to attribute your image, you can sift through all the photos on MorgueFile to find one you like. Photos there are free to download and use in both personal and commercial work.

There are tons of other photo sharing sites out there. When choosing a photo, always be sure to read the licensing so that you can appropriately credit them.

You may randomly come across an image you love, but don’t know who owns it.

You can search the origin, copyright and resolution information by going to TinEye. You can either upload the image or use its URL, the same as you would in Google Image Search.

It’s usually not difficult to find the photographer’s contact information and ask if you can use his or her images on your blog, post or website with the appropriate tribute. Make sure you get an email stating you are free to use it. Best practice, of course, would be a hyperlink to the photographer’s website. This shows goodwill (and, in turn, it happens to be good networking).

If, on the other hand, you find the image at a website that is different from the author’s website, you should use the following format:

Image by [Author’s Name with a hyperlink to his/her website] via [Name of the website where you found the picture with the hyperlink attached].

Overwhelmed and interested in finding images that don’t require attribution?

Check out our listing of our favorite places for free stock photos.

Thanks for being a good web citizen with your attributions! Atta-Boi!

About the Author:

Liz Grant has all kinds of weird stuff in her background, giving her the perfect credentials to be an Artsy Geek copywriter. She’s a Bay Area native, whose parents taught her to think outside the circle. She went to a Zen school, and was once named Child of the Moment. All of the puppet shows and real life characters fired Liz’s imagination. The result is a magical marketing wordsmith, a dating coach and a soon to be semi-famous stand-up comedian.

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