Sharing Is Caring: How to Give Photo Credit the Right Way

Bev Feldman / July 25, 2019

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When using visual content on your website or social media, you may need to source others’ images. But before you upload a photo and call it a day, you should understand how to properly credit a photo — and why it’s so important.

You may be concerned that by linking elsewhere, you’re sending website visitors away from your website. Although there’s a slight chance that could happen, you are actually building trust with your audience by showing them that you give credit where credit is due. Also, outbound links to high-quality sources can actually benefit your SEO, potentially giving your website a boost in Google rankings.

Plus, it’s common courtesy to give credit to the creator. Just as you spent time crafting blog posts and content for your website, so did the person who created the images you’re using. The creator deserves to have others know where their work came from.

Finally, your work is automatically copyrighted the moment it’s created. By not giving proper credit, you’re actually breaking the law and opening yourself up to a potential lawsuit.

How to appropriately give photo credit

There are certain times when you don’t need to give photo credit, such as when you purchase a stock photo. Still, whether you’re reposting a meme on your Facebook page or uploading an image you found that is licensed through Creative Commons, always make sure to credit the creator. Here’s how to give photo credit, properly.

First, make sure you have permission to use it. If it’s not on Creative Commons, then email the owner to see if you can use their image. (It helps to have it in writing in case there are any disputes down the line.)

If you’re using it in a blog post or on your website, put the name of the creator and a link to their website or the source of the image beneath it. The format should be something like this: “Photo by [artist name with their website hyperlinked]” or “Image by [artist name] via [website hyperlinked].”

For example, with this image from Flickr Creative Commons, it should be credited as “Image by Shawn Arron via Flickr.”

How to cite reposted or search engine photos

If you’re reposting on social media, make sure you tag the person’s handle. On Facebook, you can simply share the original post onto your Facebook page, and all of the creator’s info will be there, assuming you’re reposting from the original poster. On Instagram, you can use an app that allows you to repost an image while tagging the original poster.

Please note that if you are posting an image found on Pinterest or Google Images, it’s not sufficient to simply cite Google or Pinterest as the source. They are just the search engines; they are not the original source and do not link back to the creator.

You can do a reverse image search to find the original image and then get permission from there. If you’re unable to find the original source, it’s best to find another image to use.

By properly crediting all of the images you use and only using what you have permission to share, you’re establishing yourself as a professional.

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