blog talk: crediting photos


This is different than what I normally post and I will not be posting this sort of thing ever again but I feel so strongly about the issue of online photo usage, I felt compelled to share. Since blogging is part of my job and I often get inquiries about how a person can get a job blogging or what the "rules" are about blogging, I thought I would post my ideas about crediting photos on blogs. I don't claim to be a legal expert, these are my personal opinions. I am also a photo stylist, so part of my job is to create pretty pictures with photographers. People pay us to create images and that is how we earn our living. In this post, I've added images I've styled with Portland photographer, Lisa Warninger


It is so exciting how quickly word can spread about a photographer or artist with just a few blog posts. This is why it's so disheartening when their work is not credited. Maybe it's because I know how much effort goes into making an image, but when I see a blog without proper credits to photos, I consider it theft and I discontinue reading the blog. Not properly crediting photos is incredibly disrespectful to the photographers and the people who created the images. I've seen it on small blogs and big ones too. It doesn't matter whether you blog for fun or for your job, everyone has the responsibility to credit the images they use. I know most people aren't trying to be mean or disrespectful but just aren't aware. Blogging is still so new! Here are some clarifications in case anyone is confused about how to credit photos:

Always credit the original source. What does original source mean?

The photographer and/or the publication it was created for. Always, always try to find the photographer but if you can't find the photographer use the original publication who paid for the image to be created (i.e. House Beautiful, The New York Times, Food and Wine)

If it's a product, credit the shop. (i.e. J.Crew, Steven Alan, Built by Wendy)

If you don't have an original source and can't find it, then don't use the image.

These are NOT original sources:

Another blog (unless the image was specifically created by that blog author or for that blog i.e. The Sartorialist)



Google images

Flickr (credit the actual Flickr account)

We Heart It



Let's say you saw a pretty J.Crew photo on Frolic and wanted to put it on your own blog. If you first saw it on Frolic!, you'd want to credit it like this:

Image: J.Crew via Frolic!

If Frolic! found the image through Cup of Jo. You would credit like this:

Image: J.Crew via Frolic! via Cup of Jo.

A few more personal opinions on the matter:

If you want to use an image as a blog banner or widget on your blog, ask permission from the original source and leave a credit on your blog.

It's especially nice if you can credit the original source in the text of your post and at the bottom of the post, rather than just using their images like stock photography with a tiny credit at the bottom.

It's nice to make the credit very clear, rather than crediting it in the tiniest font at the bottom of the post. You might as well not have a credit in my opinion.

Always use links! Not just text!

If the photo source asks that you seek permission to use the photos before posting them, always respect this and email them before using the photo.They almost always say yes!

If you have thoughts, questions or your own ideas on this subject, leave them in the comments! I don't mean to be on my high horse, I just figured I would share since I couldn't find all this information when I first started blogging. Thanks! Back to regularly scheduled programing! 

Photos: 1. Lisa Warninger for Elizabeth Dye. Set, Chelsea Fuss. Model, Anna Adams. Wardrobe, Elizabeth Dye. Hair: Madeline Roosevelt. 2,3. Photos, Lisa Warninger for Tokketok. Styling, Chelsea Fuss. 4-6, Photos, Lisa Warninger for Project Wedding, Styling Chelsea Fuss. Wardrobe, Elizabeth Dye. Hair, Madeline Roosevelt. Model (last photo) Hannah Osborn.


  1. So now we can’t even credit in a small font? Magazines don’t always credit in body copy sized font, which is perfectly acceptable. In fact most publications credit in the gutter space. It’s quite frustrating to see all these big bloggers making up their own rules and expecting everyone to follow. I agree photos should be credited obviously, but things like font size and wording is up to each blogger.

  2. I can see your point Alice and that particular thought was purposefully listed under “personal opinions”.

    A magazine has paid for that image to be created. They have compensated the photographer, the stylist, the art director, etc. The blog has generally not paid for the image so in my personal opinion the credit should be legible. I literally have to take a magnifying glass to my screen when I read some blogs. I can’t tell if the content is borrowed or if it has been created original to their bog, because their credits are so tiny.

  3. Thanks so much for writing this, Chelsea. I’ve been so frustrated by 1. people reposting things they found on my own blog without giving me credit and 2. seeing posts on other blogs who can’t be bothered to credit the people who created the amazing products and imagery.

    As a relatively new face in our community it has been incredibly disheartening to watch other bloggers repost what I’ve spent hours researching and working on to properly credit everyone I can without even a nod to me and oftentimes not even a nod to the creatives I took the time to search out and link all the credits to. It especially sucks when it is a higher profile blogger–I mean, they got that way by people giving them credit for their work, so you’d think that they’d bother to pay it forward for other people that they are finding inspiration from! Right?? It’s hard to see someone get 40+ comments and compliments on a blog post that isn’t properly credited and knowing where they really found their content. Really, the Via Via Via is so very simple and will not take a blogger much extra time, so the “I’m too busy” line is a complete lazy cop out. If they are doing it to me, I assume they are doing it to a lot of other hardworking bloggers. I will stop following them and it’s sad to lose that respect for someone in the blogging community.

    Life is hard enough and most people will never get the credit they truly deserve, so why not share the love? ?

    Thanks, Chelsea. This issue can’t be vocalized enough–I appreciate your taking the time to write this post.

  4. This internet thingy has created a generation who don’t know property boundaries.

    I speak to my friend’s TV & Film production class at the Art Institute every semester about Rights and Clearances and am greeted by a sea of confused faces when I tell them the rules. Some students don’t understand that they must get the creator’s permission and/or some sort of payment in order to use the creator’s property. It’s beyond them.

    “But what if after I downloaded it from YouTube, I distort it so they don’t recognize it.”

    Um, it’s stealing.

    I tell them, if you didn’t personally create the original product (photos, music, film, video games, etc) then you must seek the owner and gain permission. It’s not just the nice thing to do. It’s the law.

    Thanks for writing this, Chelsea!

  5. Oh and Alice! I was not trying to instruct on wording at all. Sorry if it looks that way! I merely used the re-blogging example to make it clear. I realize everyone will have different opinions regarding specifics. As I stated in the post, these are my personal opinions and you can take them or leave them! I think we can all agree photos should have links and credits to the original sources. We are lucky that photographers want to share their work with us for free.

  6. Hi!
    I attended the Design Blog Conference in LA which wrapped up today. We touched on the topic of linking to sources and yet I found your post very interesting. We all know and understand the importance of linking, however I appreciated your explanation of going right to the original source and making sure that it is noted as well. I know I have not done that on my own blog, but will do that from now on as it makes complete sense!
    Thank you for sharing this info 🙂

  7. Oh! Also, yes–if you have a blog that has paid advertisers/sponsors and you are not properly crediting the other blogs that inspire you and the creatives who work on the images you post, then you ARE actually making money off of other people’s work. Maybe that’s why it always makes me personally feel like I just got mugged? So ridiculous!

  8. This hits a very important point, I think. With today’s Tumblr/WeHeartIt generation people don’t understand that these things don’t come out of thin air, someone somewhere took those photos, styled, etc. And yeah, just linking to WeHeartIt is not proper credit, I’ve been so frustrated sometimes falling on dead-end links… I’d love to see more of someone’s work but I can’t because somewhere along the linking chain people decided that the original creator was not important.

  9. I find this problem frustrating as well. I truly don’t understand why people think anything online is fair game; just b/c it’s not a physical thing you can touch and hold in your hand, doesn’t mean it doesn’t belong to someone. There have been times when I’ve considered not blogging anymore or not selling online – which is sad! It’s funny, it seems like if you are so inspired to post an image, it would also seem like you’d want to credit the source!

    This problem is similar to the illegal distribution of digital goods as well (i.e. pdf patterns, digital scrapbook kits). It’s that intangible quality that seems to confuse people I guess (although I really think that’s an excuse).

    I’m glad you posted about this, I’m sure it’ll open some eyes!

  10. Oh, but I would like to amend my comment but saying that I do handle credit differently when it comes to products – I usually just link the image and some text to the corresponding product page on the site (I may or may not specifically say the name of said product or shop). I think that’s fair in this context but of course that is just my opinion!

  11. Jen, I think that’s totally fair! I’ve done the same! I think I was extra meticulous with this post. when I first started blogging, I didn’t know a lot of these things and that is one of the reasons, I share. I recently added an extra photo credit at the bottom of every post (inspired by Alyson at Unruly Things). I noticed sometimes the readers didn’t pick up the credit in the post and I want to make sure it is very clear where each photo comes from.

    Loving these comments!

  12. These topics need to be repeated as often as possible so that people can instruct themselves. As I have become quite obsessed with Pinterest I go insane when I find a dead-link. I would appreciate it even more if Pinners would actually ALWAYS type out the sources of an image.

    I am glad you have shared this with us!

  13. What I found really strange was when I came across pictures from my own wedding, uncredited on people’s blogs. I don’t particularly want publicity, but it’s oddly hurtful seeing pictures from the most important day in your life just being used as part of someone’s random post – without them saying whose wedding, or who shot it (or that it came via {Frolic!} most probably!)… That said, I am only just getting the hang of crediting things properly on my own blog – so thank you for your advice! x

  14. I couldn’t agree more. Well said Chelsea.

    As a photographer when I run into my work online without credits it’s incredibly jarring. It really takes me aback, its a little heartbreaking. It’s stealing. Flat out. If the credits are too small to be read then it’s not any better. Would you copy and paste someones paragraph without crediting? Of course not! Photography is legally protected in much the same way.

    It doesn’t matter if it’s a big blog or a for fun blog that you create to share things with your friends. Blogging is a public forum and copyrights apply.

    When I find my photos properly credited and linked (if it’s online it should link back to the original source) I’m thrilled. I love it when people enjoy my work! I post a link to their site, I thank them, I tweet about it.

    Credit everything. If you don’t know who created it don’t use it. If you didn’t create it or purchase it, its not yours. Most photographers are happy with just their name and link. It’s really not too much to ask now is it? It’s also not too much to ask that their name be legible!

    Most work is not created alone, credit everyone. If you find something on another blog… yes, by all means do the via via via route. Not only does it make you look professional, but you will earn the respect of your readers and fellow bloggers.

    Thanks for the thoughtful post Chelsea.
    Happy blogging everyone!

  15. Thank you so much for this post – I’ve been (sporadically) blogging for two years and this is the best explanation I’ve seen by far – it can be so confusing. I’ve always tried to credit fairly but I can see from this post that there are more things I should be doing – and some things I shouldn’t be doing!!

  16. I work for a magazine and trust me if a photographer or a publication for that matter does not want their images to be misused, they just don´t upload it to the internet (in fact in doing so they are in breach of contract).

    I think the responsibility lies in the first person that uploads the photo and I also think a discreet watermark that does not jeopardize the quality of the image is the best solution. There are also ways of embedding the right info into the file!

    Although I do share your opinion on the fact that you should try at least to quote the source (blog) where you got it from, it is not always easy to trace it all the way back to the original author, because they did not care to label their image correctly in the first place.

    Thanks for the advise! … keep up the good and ethical work! 🙂


  17. This is a great post. I was just thinking about this last night as I perused some “big name” blogs who don’t credit at all. I find it very frustrating as sometimes I want to find out more info behind a pic and I can’t follow a trail back. I also find it disrespectful and just plain lazy. Sometimes I think it also comes down to a certain amount of “vanity” in that some bloggers don’t want to share their resources with others.

    I’m a relatively newish blogger, but one thing I have tried to do is credit my pics appropriately. I must admit I do give it a smaller font, but I didn’t do this as a way of passing the pics off as my own. I guess I’ve done it the same way as magazines seem too.

    I’ve had a quick look through my posts and am not happy about those pics that I haven’t credited properly. I am endeavouring to rectify the situation although in some cases it may be difficult.

    Funnily enough, on my Pinterest account, I will try and follow back a pin I want to repin in order to give it a better description than was given by the original pinner.

    I have even commented on pins where the wrong artist has been credited for work. Most people have replied and are happy to acknowledge the error and rectify it. It’s the ones that don’t fix it after you have made them aware that get my goat the most.

    This issue is important and you’ve done a great job in addressing it.

    Sandy K

  18. It’s so easy to give credit where credit is due, and it builds great relationships. Like Chelsea, I view use of images/words/art w/o credits and back links as theft. And, so do the courts.

    Copyright law applies to everything online and in print. Public domain and Fair Use are legally defined terms. All of this can be researched here: If you are involved in any kind of media creation (online, print, audio, etc), it is your responsibility to know and follow the law.

    Thanks for the great article. I hope people start taking this issue seriously.


  19. i’m so on board with this. i don’t link in the credits if i’ve clearly stated the source in the blog post’s text (ie, for fashion week i don’t link back to in the credit, but it’s evident in my wording where the photo came from + there are links.)

    i am an obsessive rule follower and a “small” blog, but it bothers me that the industry is kind of like the wild wild west.

  20. Excellent guidelines, Chelsea…this is a pet peeve of mine, too – and one reason why I’m leaving the Tumblr scene. I try to be as conscious as I can when applying credit but I know that I can do better myself, too – so this is a great reminder for everyone.

  21. Thanks for writing this post, Chelsea. One of my biggest pet peeves is people who don’t have a credit and write something like “oh no, I forgot the source. If you know can you tell me?” They have the sponsors but readers are supposed to do their research for them?

    However, (in response to Lisa’s comment), I don’t think this is limited to images. I’ve spent hours writing posts. As you know, I’m a writer. And I’ve seen people rip quotes verbatim out of my blog and not credit me. The worst (funniest) was when somebody broke one of my posts into segments of 140 characters and tweeted it. So weird.

    I could also write a similar post about people who write advertorials without clearly labeling them.

    You’re leading by example Chelsea! Thank you.

  22. Great post. As a photographer, I really appreciate bringing this to light. Another source of irritation – bloggers who not only take photos without permission and offer no credit but also have the nerve to crop out the watermark/logo of the photographer. Really. It’s unbelievable.

  23. Great post! Improper crediting really irritates me, too.

    Re: Pinterest, I’ve found that if you take a few extra steps you can almost always find the original source. All it takes is a few clicks.

    Another thing that totally gets me: pay for play editorial content. I die a little inside each time someone asks me to participate in this scam. I have no problem with “sponsored” posts, but don’t take $ and call it editorial! (Phew, I feel better getting that all out).

  24. Great post, but it doesn’t go far enough. By posting images on blogs without permission of the copyright holder, even with credit, you are taking a great risk. Most people in the U.S. think they’re protected under Fair Use, but there are many components to Fair Use, and oftentimes posting a photo on a blog — *especially* if it’s a revenue-generating blog, does not pass the test. And for those not in the U.S., your country probably does not even have Fair Use.

    Most artists are happy for you to post their work with credit, even if you didn’t ask permission, but it only takes one litigious person to ruin your life. Believe me, I have learned the hard way. In my case I was am very likely protected by Fair Use, but dozens of other people being threatened with lawsuits by the same person were not so fortunate.

    I encourage everyone reading this to read up on the latest trend of copyright predators — there are actually organizations buying up copyrights from struggling publications solely to demand licensing fees from bloggers and websites using “their” material. See

    Getty Images is also very intolerant of unlicensed, unpaid use of their images:

    One last note, most of the time you will get a Cease and Desist letter from the copyright holder or their attorney, in which case simply taking down the image in question ends the dispute. But you might also be asked to pay a licensing fee, which can range from hundreds to thousands of dollars. And if you don’t pay, they will proceed with legal action, in which case you may end up being liable not only for the licensing fees but for the copyright holder’s attorney fees as well.

    The easiest way to prevent this is, as you suggest, to always ask permission before posting an image.

  25. This is a wonderful topic, and we have so much bad personal experience with this. My photographs have to be on the internet for me to sell my product. When photos are used without credit, it takes that work one step further from the source and makes it more likely the image will be misused. For example, our work was in a newspaper in the UK without a credit and a business there starting printing it on tshirts. We were able to straighten it out, but this type of thing is really damaging to artists and small businesses. Another business made one of our images their logo. It’s such a headache (not to mention the heartbreak) to deal with this stuff. Obviously bloggers want us little guys trying to make a living selling handmade to still be around (so they have something to write about), so they should support those who they admire and help them to promote their work. I know how you feel about not wanting to be negative, but thanks so much for giving this issue a voice!

  26. Thanks so much for your valuable insight. I’m always doing research on this subject and do my very best to always ask permission to use images and credit photographers, stylists, and designers. It’s so important!

  27. I’ve only kept a blog since September 2009, and it is definitely “small.” I feel proud to post a credit for a project that I’ve recreated in my own home. I’ve never used any photographs that weren’t my own, but I often make crafts that I’ve seen elsewhere. Posting the credit and the link to another blog or shop makes me feel part of a thriving community. It’s a pleasure, not a chore! Thanks for spreading the message. I teach college writing, and I’m often shocked by materials that students consider to be fair game.

  28. Great post. I’m not a professional photographer by any means, but I still feel a little bothered when I see an image of mine tumbled over 300 times. My flickr account has image downloading disabled, so someone is obviously taking a screen cap of the image, then reposting to tumblr (with a credit) without my permission. still trying to decide how i feel about it (flattered? annoyed?)

  29. Worth mentioning: I like to run images through if they aren’t credited and I want to use them. About 50% of the time it can find an original source for you.

  30. This makes me kind of sad. I credit all my images, but every time I post like this comes up I’m second-guessing myself. What is the point of sharing inspiration, creativity and wonderful photographs, when even with credits, it seems like we’re always upsetting one person or another. It often has me considering not blogging at all anymore. I always feel like i’m walking on eggshells 🙁

  31. Bekka! Thanks! THat’s a great source!

    Loving this discussion. And thanks to the commenters who pointed out that it is actually illegal to use an image without permission. A lot of the usage of photos online is actually illegal and people can take action! Photographers always own the right to their images.

  32. Katie- If you are crediting the original source with a link and willing to take an image down if asked, then there’s no need to worry!!Most people love their work to be used with a credit! Many photographers actually get business by the exposure they receive on blogs. The photo issue has gotten so out of hand, I felt compelled to post for people who don’t understand how to credit. I don’t think there’s any need to stress if you are crediting and linking the original source. I’ve never actually been asked to take an image down. I’ve received emails from photographers thrilled that they were featured and linked to.

  33. Thanks for writing this article and I agree that more bloggers should be doing the same so that we may educate the masses about what is true and just treatment of intellectual property.

    As a photographer I know the issue first hand and have a tough time reconciling my desire for my art to be seen with my desire for my art to not be stolen and misappropriated. So what is more heartbreaking than seeing my work stolen and unjustly used? Well, probably having to make the terrible decision to not show that piece publicly due only to fear of its misuse. It royally sucks when some of my best work remains private and unseen. Yet until I have a gallery residence, that is how a great deal of my work will persist; publicly unseen.

  34. Loving this discussion, Chelsea! As a blogger, crediting is something I take incredibly seriously. If I can’t find a source, I don’t use the image. I also get really upset when someone credits an image back to my blog when what they should be doing is crediting the original source with a via link back to me. To make it easy – just copy the credits at the bottom of my post! I try to keep it simple for people to easily credit if they use something they find on my site, but it still doesn’t always happen. I think that these kinds of discussions are eye opening for a lot of people and can hopefully lead to real change.

    With that said – I find Pinterest and Tumblr tough. Oftentimes people are not pinning to a specific post so when you click over you land on a front page and, more than likely, the original post where that image was found is now buried. I try to always pin to a specific post so the credit can easily be found, but I’m wondering if there is further discussion we can all have on the best way to use Pinterest and other mediums without losing the original sources along the way. Perhaps we start putting URLs in as captions?

  35. Great comments and questions on Pinterest. I actually don’t use it. I am apprehensive about it. I agree with Cyd, the original source should be in the caption!

  36. This was definitely helpful. Thank you. I was definitely guilty of the smaller font crediting, so reading your post definitely made me think twice about that along with the crediting original source {rather than pinterest or weheartit}.

  37. i TOTALLY agree!!!!! i find it so frustrating to look on tumblr since i can never find credits!!! it’s so, so important to credit photographers and sources.

    one thing i sometimes find helpful: if i want to post a photo and don’t know the photographer, i’ll write (photo credit unknown) and then usually readers will tell me who it is, and i’ll add in the credit right away.

    GREAT post, chelsea!!!!

  38. great post, chelsea! hard to believe so many people don’t understand this, so i am happy to see you clarify it here.

  39. and i agree that it’s so odd/disconcerting to see your own personal photos (wedding photos, family photos, baby photos, etc.) on tumblr, blogs and even blog headers without any mention of you or your blog. feels so strange!

  40. I have tried to write my comment for over half an hour now and I’m still not fully satisfied with it, but I’d like to say something, so here goes…

    I have definitely been frustrated by bloggers who I know visit my site (because they leave comments…and p.s. they are much bigger bloggers than me) post something I had posted a few days ago and not saying that they saw it on my blog first. it was one of the many reasons I felt disheartened with blogging and have not put up anything in a few months (and also took a long break from reading most blogs).

    I feel like there are a lot of people out there (myself included) who try their best to credit everything they can, but with the internet being what it is, and with things getting “re-blogged” and passed around so much, that can sometimes be impossible. i’m not saying this is an excuse to plagiarize others work… but that sometimes the person who says “I don’t know who this is from, can you please let me know if this is yours” is not lazy, but just trying their best to give credit where it’s due (and if nothing else, saying- this is not mine and has not been properly credited in the past) given that the trail to the original source is dead.

    in the future I will try to used as mentioned above by Bekka- it sounds like just what the blog world needs.

    lastly- I guess I’m wondering about credit in terms of product links. for example, I often posted about clothes and other things to buy. when I do, I link to the page where they are being sold (the product link on the seller’s etsy page, the exact product link at j.crew or net-a-porter…). is this enough of a credit or should I be saying “by X designer, sold at X store” underneath, with links to all?

    i think the biggest problem with all of this is that- there are no rules! unlike writing a paper in college, blogging doesn’t come with a preferred “citation” method. what is the MLA/Chicago of blogging? i do think that there are many bloggers who think that they are crediting properly, because they follow the example of others around them, and have no malicious intent. as you said, blogging is still young, and maybe a formalized crediting method is something that we will have in the future.

  41. It’s so true about asking permission. If someone asks to use one of my photos on their blog, I almost always say yes. If I find it via Google Alerts or Flickr stats, and the blogger never asked permission, I demand that they take it down. It’s hugely disrespectful, and I won’t negotiate with anyone about it.

  42. Hey Lindsay! In my personal opinion, I think that is fine for product photography. The company has paid for that image to be created for them so as long as there is a link back to them, that should be good. I think the biggest issue I have is when I see a photo and it is credited to a blog or to tumblr. Those are not original sources and when everyone starts doing it, all credit is lost!

  43. GREAT post, chelsea! thank you for sharing this very honest and clear information. i do think that most people who don’t credit photos are probably just uninformed/misinformed and don’t mean to be malicious. this will be very helpful to so many people.

  44. I just went back and edited my post for today! I am definitely a culprit of the small print at the bottom and not finding the original source. To be fair, I was told that crediting where you found it last was fine during another discussion similar to this one.

    It’s just so hard because it seems everyone has a different opinion about what is the right way to do it.

    I am happy to get some direction with Pinterest, though. I knew simply crediting to Pinterest was probably not the best I could do, but my laziness took over. I will definitely be more diligent in finding the original source from now on. It’s always been important for me to give credit when credit is due!

  45. BRAVO!
    Chelsea you know I adore you and your lovely blog – so happy that you have put a spotlight on an all too common and quite shady practice by bloggers {big & small} As a photographer I find it particularly obnoxious since I know A LOT about copyright law! Even if you properly credit you still do not have the LEGAL right to use that image unless you have obtained permission from the copyright holder {ie. photographer or sometimes the publisher} An image may be used under what is termed “fair use” without the express permission of the copyright holder [ HOWEVER the definition of fair use although specific is a nightmare to use as a defense in a copyright lawsuit because the distinction btwn infringement & fair use is not clear.
    Oh and those who defend their obvious lack of integrity with “it is free advertisement, publicity, etc.” can all go sit & spin!
    As photographer it is a professional COURTESY because of a proper photo credit by bloggers that stops most from defending our copyright by taking legal action. Many ignorantly believe that a Photographer can only sue for the the value of the image that was infringed on but if said photographer registers their copyrighted material then they could actually sue for the value + damages + legal fees.
    Also, if you mention that you will take down an image if requested by the copyright holder that does not negate the infringement and you could still be held accountable.
    Every blogger {whether for profit or fun} has the responsibility to educate themselves on FCC regulations and copyright law!

  46. Thank you so much for leaving this post! A new blog birth just occurred yesterday and I have been wondering what the proper blog etiquette was. I actually am awaiting a reply from an etsy seller to reference one of her whimsical items on my blog. I didn’t know what the rules were but figured I would want the same respect in return. Thank you!

  47. Thanks Chelsea! Way back in the day you posted an image of mine, but sent me an email first asking. It was very much appreciated that you took the extra time to be professional and courteous!

  48. Chelsea, what an important discussion to our ever changing medium!

    As a person who believes in life long learning, I’m thankful for the information that blogging brings to my doorstep everyday. I think image crediting is so important; how could we ever truly learn about something – about a person’s aestehtic, what makes them unique, and valuable to visual culture – with out knowing who created it?

    I remember the first time I saw a photo taken by Diane Arbus – in was strange and beautiful. But that is so surface compared to the way I feel about her as an artist, after pouring over her collected works and reading about the glamorous and haunted woman that created them.

    With out proper credit, blogging and photography becomes a mindless collection of pretty pictures. Style and substance become lost.

    We need a better image cataloguing tool – where the true source isn’t lost in a million repost links (like Tumblr and WeHeartIt).

  49. Great post! There is nothing more frustrating then trying to find more information in individual posts when the author does not give any credit to anyone!

    I actually just came across a new fan page for a company on facebook that is currently using a photo I took of their product (that I own). Am I getting credit anywhere? Nope. And its their ‘company’ photos! Its odd to have to send an email asking for credit for something you did, when its so darn easy to link to something!!

  50. Thank you so much for writing this post. as a photographer i cant tell you how much it means to have someone ask permission before blogging and then give credit. Thank you, thank you, THANK YOU for saying this. Your blog is widely read and this will mean a lot to a lot of people!

  51. This was a really helpful post! I’ve new to the whole design/craft blogging world & I’ve been crediting my sources, but I wasn’t sure if there was a proper way to do it. This clarifies it. What are your opinions on where the pictures when clicked link to? I make them go to the source, but I wasn’t sure if that was proper either?

  52. I commented late last night but wanted to come back to this again.

    Watermarking doesn’t work. People just remove it.
    I’ve found photographs on blogs where people have actually credited me but they also took my photos and ran them through some hideous actions in photoshop and totally changed them.
    You can’t do this stuff.

    I think Pinterest is actually pretty good because at least it does give a link back but if it’s linked from a tumblr, good luck finding the original source.

    Tumblr is one of the biggest issues in all of this and as was discussed recently, a lot of people running those blogs may only be 14 or 15 and aren’t likely going to see posts like this.You know?

    My biggest issue is when I see my work and the work of hundreds of others on a blog which has no original content of its own being applauded for its greatness and is taking in money from sponsors.
    The blog author should be informing their readers that none of the photographs are theirs and directing them to the original artists.

  53. Thanks for making this post — it’s very useful! I just started a blog of my own (after a couple travel blogs I made for friends and family while I was abroad) and have so far only used my own photos. But I’ve always believed it’s better to overcredit (if there even if is such a thing!) than undercredit. While I already know more generally about crediting photos, there are a couple helpful tips here I’ve wondered about before, and you made them very clear. So, thanks!

  54. I love this post, Chelsea! In college as a media major we were taught to always, always, always give proper credit. What makes people think that they don’t have to do that on the web? I frequently find my images on tumblr being utilized and I always reblog mentioning that I’m the photographer, hoping they’ll get the “hint” that they need to give proper credit. I recently found out a magazine on tumblr used one of my images, they linked to my etsy shop when you clicked on the image but never stated anywhere where they had found it or who the photog is, which I find very disheartening.

    I just want to thank you again for touching bases on this, I think everyone prior to blogging should have to read this as a prerequisite. Thanks again for posting 🙂

  55. Love your work. Love your words on this weighty topic. Also, being a stylist I agree with you, so much goes into my creations it is quite disheartening to find them popping up elsewhere with no link to my work.

  56. what is your technique for saving images and remembering sources? i feel like i am saving a million files on my computer a day – mainly just for myself – and a few might end up at some point on my little blog that no one reads… haha 🙂

    to be honest it can sometimes feel like a chore to have to put in all that work and time to source when i am by no means profiting off of my blog and really only do this whole thing for my own personal inspiration?

    i would love tips!

  57. Thank you Chelsea. This was a great insight. Although I think if you are going to save the images to your own server you should add the original source or copyright to the rollover header as well. I think to help credit awareness I will begin my image credits as follows:

    Please credit responsibly! – Image: J. Crew via Frolic! via Cup of Jo.

  58. So clear and well written and it needs to be said. This is a major pet peeve of mine (even though it hasn’t affected me personally), especially with the rise of Tumblr and Pinterest. Neither of those sites creates images, and they shouldn’t be receiving credit (except a via, when applicable).

    The saddest part is that it isn’t necessary. Most people are generous and happy to have their work shared, provided you’re crediting and linking and not using their photos like stock photography (which should be paid for).

    The only exception I have has already been mentioned in the comments – I use product photos from J. Crew and the like and don’t feel bad about not tracking down the photographer, but only for linking directly to the product (i.e. a shopping post).

  59. Unfortunately you cannot point to copyright laws in the US because blogging is done internationally & there is not “international” copyright legislation. (& probably never will be.) People need to be cautious & aware of ethical boundaries both as a blogger & as a photographers.

    And, if you are blogging for money, it is especially crucial you reexamine your ethical approaches to blogging while the game is then completely changed.

  60. Hey! I really appreciated your post, I’m new to all of it so thanks for the blogging etiquette tips.

  61. GREAT post. Thank you, thank you, thank you.

    Personally speaking, I don’t think it’s crucial to include the “via” information. The focus really needs to be on crediting the SOURCE of the actual photograph. The intermediary is far less important. It REALLY frustrates me when I see someone else’s photograph (which I’ve shared on my blog and clearly credited to the source, with a link) on someone else’s blog…but credited to ME.

  62. Thanks Chelsea! Like you said, blogging is fairly new, and we are all getting the hang of this. I have always tried to credit photos on my blog, but haven’t always been the most thorough. But now I’ve been trying to be really good about it. One thing that bugs me is the whole Pinterest phenomenon. Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE Pinterest…. but when people just credit the Pinterest site in general and don’t credit the original source AND the pinterest account (or accounts) they got it from (with the “via via” method you mention), it doesn’t seem right. But I know it’s still so new to all of us, and a lot of people aren’t quite sure how to go about giving credit a lot of times.

  63. As a photog I am so glad respected bloggers like you and design sponge have been getting the word out about photo, illustration, and writing credits/usage!!! Blogs are fast becoming the new magazines, requiring vast more content than the mags ever did. Original content takes time and money. The only proper time to not have a credit is when it is an ad that the photog is getting $$$ for.

  64. I am just starting to deal with all of this and I really like the idea of doing a image recap at the end of the post to give extra credit to images used! That way the look of the post is still clean but everyone is happy!

    The thing I am not sure about is people keep mentioning is linking photos to tumblr accounts. A lot of people have their personal photos on tumblr so what else would you link them to?

    I think this is a great topic we should all talk about more!

  65. I think in time there will be ways to link EXIF data so that no photo online will end up being sold on eBay or worse having someone else snatch the image and claim it as their own. It is ok for people to steal images, but not ok for people to steal movies or music. What makes them any better?

    Anyway there is hope for future tagging and photo information. It is only a matter of time.

  66. Chelsea, thank you for a very helpful, thorough, and fair how-to for photo credits! I always try to do the right thing on my blog, but going forward I will make an extra effort to be conscientious about image credits; I would ask the same of anyone using my images, why shouldn’t they expect it from me in return?

  67. Clearly an important topic and I like the proposed formatting but I am a little confused. Is the consensus that linking and crediting is sufficient unless the originator has clearly stated not to use anything without their permission? Or should you always ask first? Or does it make a difference if it’s a big or little kind of thing. Like I need to ask Chelsea to use one of her photos but it’s OK to just credit anthropologie?
    Thanks for the topic. I think many of us have gone back through our blogs checking our links. I know I have a little editing to do.

  68. Hi Jewel! Great questions. I believe we should always credit the photographer or publication. When people have a statement on their site or blog asking you to first seek permission, then you should seek permission before posting. For products, (and I just learned this from Lisa Warninger today), large companies have purchased the copyright to their images (i.e. the gap, j.crew) for smaller companies, you should be crediting the photographer as well as the company if that info is available.

    According to US laws, you should be asking permission but most photographers are ok (unless they have stated on their website otherwise) with you posting their work with a link to the original source (photographer and/or publication the image was created for). As stated in some of the previous comments, it is hard to apply these laws on the Internet because the Internet is worldwide and every country has different laws.

    Does that make sense?

    Basically, always always credit with a link, the original source. And if you found that source on a blog, credit the blog too.

  69. wow!

    so many comments…i definitely enjoyed reading everyone’s opinions. i think citing your sources in blogging is very important, but can also be very difficult sometimes. i always, always cite my images and give credit where credit is due, because i love promoting other bloggers/businesses, although i will admit that occasionally i do use images from we heart it and will just link back there if i am unable to find the original source, because often it came from a tumblr who didn’t cite their sources. ugh! it’s a vicious circle, but i will definitely try to get away from doing this in the future.

    i am curious about something though…what are the rules for citing the other creatives involved with the photos you find? i.e. stylists, wardrobe, hair, makeup, etc….? i feel like the people who put these shoots together often go unnoticed and i would love to credit people more often, but simply cannot find who i should credit.

    also….how can you know how far back the blogging trail goes? sometimes, i feel like some images get passed around the web so much that it’s hard to tell who got it from who. in that case, would it be best simply to stick with citing the original source?

    oh gosh! so many questions. i thought i was doing this right, but now i’m totally second guessing!

    nonetheless, thanks for the thought provoking post.

  70. Hey Lauren! If you have the info on stylists, etc! Yes, credit it! The photographer is the owner of the copyright though. Talk to Lisa about this. She educated me on it today:)

    No matter what other people are doing, always, always credit the original source. If you find it on a blog, you should credit them too along with the sources they found it from if there are some. All of this is important but photographers/publications must must must always be credited!

    Earlier in the comments Bekka mentioned this will help you find original sources! If you don’t have the original source, don’t use the image.

  71. i tried tinyeye tonight to no avail :(. i tried it with multiple photos and it just took ages and didn’t come up with anything. i made sure to test it on photos that i knew where they came from, but it still didn’t work. lame.

    i’ll have to try again later.

    and i’ll definitely be making sure to cite original sources from here on out. i already do this, but i’m going to be even more vigilant now :).

  72. This is a fabulous post and an absolutely wonderful conversation in the comments. I think this quote sums it up in such a simple way for me: “If you don’t have an original source and can’t find it, then don’t use the image.”

    It is true that you should ask if someone clearly says “do not use without permission” — it makes it hard to blog spontaneously as you have to plan ahead and wait for the permission. Only once has someone said no to me! I was shocked and sad, I admit it. It was a Polaroid photographer from Italy whose images I fell in love with and wanted to share, but he said no so I wouldn’t disrespect that.

    I think there is a fine balance for independent artists wanting to protect their work, but gain exposure. It’s a risk to put your work online but like you said at the very beginning, it is exciting how quickly word can spread, it could be like a jackpot for an artist. But you have to take the chance on the misuse and lack of credit for your work too. There becomes a tipping point, where you have established yourself and misuse results in a true lack of compensation. But in the beginning, if you are not being compensated for your work, the risk is much smaller.

    In any case, I appreciate you taking the time to post about this topic. I hear you on Twitter getting frustrated by this issue and I feel happy that established bloggers such as yourself take this issue so seriously. Thank you Chelsea. Because there are plenty of bloggers who don’t, large, medium and small, who upload content to their Flickr streams that does not belong to them, and that alone is against Flickr terms of service but no one cares, no one enforces, it is too big for any one site at this point.

    I haven’t even read all of the comments yet, but I intend to finish as soon as I find my power supply. 🙂

  73. GREAT post Chelsea! I was only just reading a D*S article on this last night- the photo clipping and reblogging sites are shocking when it comes to keeping a credit attached.

    If in doubt (about the original artist!), leave the image out.

  74. I have a second thought. Well two second thoughts.

    1. I love Naftali Stern’s idea. It is simple, it could catch on and clue folks in.

    2. I wish the code behind the blogging platforms would require at least a link when you uploaded an image. It would force people, who are mindless and clueless, to pause and create a linking chain. It is not a whole solution by any means. But a start? For Tumblr? Who owns Tumblr anyway? Do they realize the scope of this issue?

  75. Okay I promise to stop. Obviously this is a heartfelt issue for me.

    I went to Tumblr to find out who owns it, Read the Terms of Service page:

    “All materials displayed or performed on the Site, including, but not limited to text, graphics, logos, tools, photographs, images, illustrations, software or source code, audio and video, animations and Themes (as defined below), including without limitation the Tumblr Template Code (as defined below) (collectively, “Content”) (other than Content posted by Subscriber (“Subscriber Content”)) are the property of Tumblr and/or third parties and are protected by United States and international copyright laws.”

    Now I am not a copyright expert, I have a lot to learn. Reading @bklyncontessa’s comment about copyright laws, I do not see how they can co-exist with Tumblr’s TOS. I know hardly anyone reads the TOS anyway. (Obviously I do, or more accurately, I read them and try to understand them).

    How can Tumblr say they own their content and that their “content” is protected by US & intl. copyright laws? I just don’t get it.

  76. Thank you for this post. I am new to blogging and so far have linked all my pictures back to where I originally got the information from – usually other bloggers and websites, as I really want to promote what they are doing. I will make sure that I continue to do this and also go that step further and find out who the photographer was, so they are credited as well.

  77. Your post and the following comments are so useful, I have a blog that is really a personal wish list of sorts, I’m pretty sure I’m the only one who reads it, when I started blogging in 09ish, I was contacted by someone about proper crediting an Image, I was pretty dillagant after that, but now I usually just put a via “here” link under the picture and try to keep up with it, but it only goes back to were I found it, properly not where it cane fro
    But I figure since no one reads my blog it’s ok. It would be great if more bloggers talked about the rules as some of us dint mean to but anyone off we simply don’t know? Any thoughts?

  78. I have been blogging for about a year now and have seen this topic come up on other blogs. I honestly don’t understand the laziness that I see on some blogs regarding crediting the work of others. First – it is not that difficult to come up with your own work. Second – if you reblog photos, I consider it a conversation you are having with your reader and as a service to them you would make it possible for them to “continue the trail” – if not, you leave them hanging and the reader doesn’t stay one of your readers for long. In this eye-candy-web – photo world we live in, blogs have to give us the source, out of respect for the reader AND the creator of the image, otherwise it is just another dead end. Carolina

  79. Thank you for this thoughtful, straightforward piece, chelsea.

    I have a question for the community: What is the best way to indicate you are the source if you are an amateur photographer who blogs? Should you credit yourself for every photo or is it enough to have a statement in the sidebar or footer stating that all work presented is your own unless otherwise noted?

    I take pictures primarily to remind myself of a certain light angle or pattern to use later in my art, but sometimes feel they are good enough to share on my blog — I don’t really expect that people will use them, especially with all the AMAZING work that exists on the internet, but I also don’t want to appear that I’m negligent in crediting them…

    Any thoughts?

  80. Karin,

    I think having a message on the sideline or crediting every image is important. I am trying to be better about crediting my own images myself. I think it’s just as important. The clearer we can make the credit, the better.

  81. Becky-lee + Ellie,

    Thanks for your comments. You MUST credit the original source. That is the photographer, company or publication it is from. It’s wonderful to also credit the blog you found it on. But you need the original credit in addition to that. It is not optional! If we don’t credit photographers, their work floats around the web uncredited. It doesn’t matter if you blog for fun or for your job. If your blog has poorly or uncredited images, it should be private. If you don’t know where an image comes from, don’t use it.

    Thanks girls!!

  82. Crediting is really not enough – although it should be the minimal expected/required!

    In the US – if there’s no statement allowing people to reblog an image, such as a creative commons license or statement on the copyright holder’s (photographer usually) site, you have to ask for permission or you may be violating copyright law. If you don’t make any money from your blog, you may be able to get away with fair use/editorial….

    There ARE clear laws about all this, but people interpret the laws differently and hence the lawsuits to determine individual cases. The address from another comment is a good source, so is

    The bottom line is, make sure you have permission (or get it) AND give credit!!!!

  83. Getting permission or finding out what the licensing/usage guidelines from the original source is always a good idea. When in doubt about how a designer/photographer would like their work referenced, ask them. Sometimes attribution blurbs can be confusing or hard to locate. The original source also typically includes information on whether you can include the photo in a collage or change it. One thing to never ever do is crop a photograph to remove a photographer’s branding (caveat if you’ve received written permission to do so). If you loved the photograph or concept enough to include it in your blog, you should give full credit.

  84. Something I hadn’t realized until right now is that Share This/Grab the HTML/BBCode is enabled even if the photograph in question is All Rights Reserved. For example, check out verhext’s photo: You might need to be signed into Flickr to be able to see the code. Flickr users need to specifically disable it or set it to only appear for certain people. By default, the “Share This” button will show for other people on your public uploads – it will always be available for you on your content. The button will never show alongside things that aren’t public. (Note that even if you hide this button, people will still be able to grab a URL from the browser address bar and send that around.) To change this to reflect an All Rights Reserved license, go to

  85. Blogging used to be the wild west of the internet, anything goes. Now there are rules and people should know about them. I think it’s lack of education. I don’t think writing people off because they didn’t credit an image is positive, it’s likely due to ignorance. I think showing/telling people how to credit an image is. Keep up the positive education.

    How do you feel about sites like tumblr and pinterest? I think if you go to the original source, ie photographer or magazine, you miss crediting the blogger or person who got you there.

    Design Sponge has a great Biz Ladies article on this.

  86. Thanks for posting this, Chelsea – I think a lot of people don’t know where to start on finding and crediting images for their blogs. But I especially agree with you on the point of “If you don’t have an original source and can’t find it, then don’t use the image.” I see a lot of bloggers (even quite well-known and respected ones) using images listed as “Source unknown,” and that’s not fair.

  87. Another thing to mention is if you use someone else’s image–don’t feel free to crop it or stretch it until it’s pixilated or distorted. This image isn’t yours and the artist/photographer intended for it to look a certain way. It is important that you honor their vision instead of chopping it up to fit your own needs. It would be like taking the only part of the poem you liked and changing some of the words.

    Just like you shouldn’t use an image if you don’t know the source to credit–you should not use an image if you feel the need to alter it unless you have explicit permission from the artist to do so.

    Thanks again for this post, Chelsea. So cool that so many people are chiming in and want to learn the best practice.

  88. Is there a chapter on this in the AP Stylebook yet? If not, there will be soon.

    As for me, I just take terrible pictures at night with a flash. The benefits are twofold: you’ll know all my photos are mine because of the strange color and big shadows, and I’ll know nobody will want to rip them off. Hooray for bad photography!

  89. Thanks for this. As I new blogger it is really useful. Different bloggers do different things and I am never quite sure what the “right” way to reference a photo is (though I normally have a link back in the text or with the photo). From now on I will also mention the name in text (and the via part too).

  90. This is a fantastic post, thanks for writing.

    I don’t blog, but I’m very interested in the various ethical implications of blogging, and this is a great conversation.

    I always try to find the original source for my pinterest pins and sometimes it’s aggravatingly difficult.

    I hope this post gets shared far and wide.

  91. This is so helpful!
    I have been so spooked to use other peoples images that I have completely refrained except for where I actually purchased the photo usage rights before hand.
    Thanks for taking the time to clarify this and share your opinion.

  92. LOVE your post! So many great points and extremely helpful for anyone wondering/questioning how to credit others. As a photographer, I certainly see the need for the credit…question though…as a stylist or graphic designer, if you have created something( ie paper products or a styled set) and a photographer takes an image of it, should that person be credited as well?

  93. Lucinda- I asked Lisa Warninger of Urban Weeds blog this question. The photographer owns the rights to the images. It is their work of art. That is the way it is. So, it’s great to have the other credits if you have them (as a stylist I love that… but I don’t expect it!).

  94. Michelle- Thank you for your comment. The right way to credit an image is to link to the original source. An original source is the person who made the photo or paid for the photo to be created like a publication (magazine, newspaper), or photographer. It is also necessary to link to where you found the image (on a blog,etc).

  95. Just a quick thought as I peruse the internet tonight — I use Evernote to keep track of where I get inspired and it is SO easy to add a tag for where I find it — so even if I don’t use the material for months, I always know where I saw it first.
    Thanks again for this great conversation

  96. this is a great discussion. i rarely use other people’s photos on our blog, but when i do i include the credit just below the image so you can’t miss it.

  97. Great job Chelsea and comment thread is just as great. You’ve hit a nerve obviously and really did a wonderful job explaining how to address this issue. Thank you for taking the time to writing this.

  98. Wonderful post Chelsea. I always try to give credit where credit is due. But I admit I have been guilty in the past of just crediting an image from a tumbler account because I had a hard time finding the source. Need to cut that out. One time I’ve actually found someone completely copy a post I did about my own work (including my text!) just substituting their own images. Weird. My husband has also seen his work taken and used in publications without permission or credit. It’s beyond frustrating. Thank you

  99. This is a really really good post. Thank you for doing it.

    I am curious as to what your thoughts (or what other commenters thoughts) are about bloggers who “steal” other things. For example: post ideas, header styles, layout designs etc… How do you credit these things?

    I for one worked very hard on some ideas for unique posts only to have them stolen by other bloggers. My header design was recently copied exactly with the colors changes and I’ve seen elements of my layout on one or two blogs. It’s quite frustrating.

  100. Hi Chelsea! I love your blog! This is a wonderful post, as I am a very tiny blogger and have never known the details on crediting photos.

    Although I am the creator of most of the photos on my blog, there are definitely instances where I post images from other blogs. However, I feel that by the time I find an image on a blog, it has been re-blogged so many times that it seems to be a tedious effort to follow the trail of bread crumbs to the original source. Therefore, I always just source the blog I found it on (I thought that was okay). So I am a bit confused on the re-blogging rules. Do you have to source the blog you found it on + the blog that was first to post it? For example, “j.crew via Frolic! via Cup of Jo”; what if Cup of Jo was re-blogging that image from another blog, and that blog was not the original poster either, it was another blog? Would you have to follow that line to find the original poster of the image? Ooh sorry, I think I may have confused myself, let alone you! Any clarification would be greatly appreciated :)! Thanks again for the post!

  101. I found this post to be very helpful. I honestly never really gave it a lot of thought. I mean, I always credit the pictures I use on my blog, but I often use pictures from tumblrs and don’t (or can’t) trace them back to the original source. I’ll definitely try harder going forward and give it more thought before using a picture.

  102. Dear Chelsea

    Your blog was one of the first blogs I read and one of the reasons why I wanted to blog myself.

    I think this is a great post, because it is obviously an important question. But I’m almost afraid to ever blog again.

    I have absolutely no intention to ever use text or images that other people have created and call it my own work.

    So far I have linked to where I found the photo or information from, since that was what I was told in a similar discussion. I don’t blog about things to try to take credit for the work, but usually because I think the pictures are so amazing that I want everyone to know about this blog/project/artist.

    Different bloggers do different things and think differently about what to do. So it’s easy to get confused. I’m not consistent in how I write the image links, sometimes it is in the same size as the text in my post and sometimes I make it smaller, but definitely not because I’m trying to disguise where it’s from, simply because I’ve seen it on other post, so assumed that was the way to go.

    So I hope I have never offended anyone on my blog -I will surely try to think more about how I give credit, but I also think that we must remember that not all people who post a picture without a bulletproof credit are mindless freeloading bloggers trying to make money or gain popularity via other people’s hard work. Sometimes they are perhaps just doing their best, and are, like me, simply a little clueless:-)

    Have a nice weekend

  103. Hey guys! Thanks so much for the comments! I don’t mean to make anyone feel alienated or like they are doing something wrong but we must, must must post original credits. I’ve been blogging that way for four years and so have many other people. Please don’t be afraid to blog just be more thoughtful when you are uploading a photo and please, please, please link to the original source as well as the blog you found it on if you are re-blogging.

    In regards to re-blogging. Site the blog you found it from and whatever other sources they sited in their post. This must be done IN ADDITION to crediting the original source.

    It’s really not a matter of opinion. It is actually the law. Photographers own the rights to their images. Legally you need their permission to post the photos. Most photographers are fine with a link and a credit. If you don’t credit them, they can sue you.

    Thanks so much!!

  104. I have a friend that is a professional photographer so I am sensitive to this issue. That said, even I find it challenging to find the original source sometimes…a picture that has been in so many blogs and there are no credits. I’ll try to avoid using that picture (as you suggest) but it can be a challenge. I’m glad you posted on this topic, as a relatively new (small) blogger I am always looking for education in the field.

  105. Thanks for posting. I try to give credit where credit is due, but sometimes I get lazy (and there is no better way to describe it because I know better, it’s just laziness), so it’s definitely a great reminder.

    I have a question for you, how do you personally record where you gathered images from? Do you save them with the file name? Do you immediately draft a post once you find an image? I want to be better at tracking, but I’m having a hard time organizing my images by source


  106. Chelsea I love that you wrote about this too, coming from a family of artists and photographers I see how much goes into creating a work and I try my uttermost to make sure I credit it correctly. I’m not perfect and I am always up for ways to improve.

    I have two more things I’d like to add…. I use to help find original sources of an image. Also I now name files in the photographer or artists name aswell. Because I find that people are so lazy they will just save the image directly from your blog and then repost it and that file name information carries. So least it is being carried with the creators name.

  107. Thanks for this, great post. I try to be diligent and this is a great reminder to do so.
    Many times an image has been posted and re-posted so many times and then run through Ffffound or Tumbler.

    There are lots of blogs that feature tutorials, some their own and some from other artists/etc. No problem with links and the name of the blog/person in the post. However, I have seen some sites now use thumbnails of the projects/items tiled on a single page with no credits. At first glance it looks like they are all the blogger’s work. Not good.

  108. great post.

    as someone who designs {& sells} digital files i think your point about crediting the source should apply to anything you use on your blog that you got, saved or purchased somewhere else. so many times i see bloggers use digital files to design their blogs that they purchased somewhere online and then not have the decency to note in their sidebar that their banner and/or side link images were created with {_________} kit/image/source.

    or they create derivative works with those files and give them away for free. as a designer who recently had this happen, it’s hard to not take those cases personally because you read the comments about how their readers “LOVE your new banner. Love the new design. LOVE the file you’re giving us” without realizing the blogger didn’t design the original elements in it {they just repackaged someone else’s work} a different, uncredited designer did.

    i know it may seem a little off topic but to me, the two go hand in hand. and i recently learned the hard way when i saw a design of mine, reworked into a download that was being given away for free, on a blog that i personally loved & adored.

    that’s a hard pill to swallow for anyone.

    all in all, imo, if you didn’t make it, design it, create it or style it but you’re using it on your blog you need to credit it. it’s the proper & legal thing to do.


  109. With the exception of a few product shots that link back to the product’s vendor, I exclusively use my own photos. I do not indicate that they are my photos in the blog posts. This info is mentioned on my about page instead. I wonder if I loose readers if they assume I am using someone else’s photos because no credit is shown. I stoped using Pinterest because I was frustrated by the practice of people giving bloggers credit rather than photographers. Thank you for sharing your thoughts.

  110. As a photographer and blogger I am disgusted at the thought of people out there not crediting photographers and artists for their work. The photographer has a moral and (in Australia at least where Copyright is automatic) legal right to be attributed for their work. Someone trying to butter-you-up by saying they’ll credit you really isn’t doing you any favours – they HAVE to credit.

    When I reblog a photo I’ve found on Flickr, I not only use the photo and link provided through the ‘blog this’ or share function but also use my blog’s caption tool to post the photo’s title and a © photographer’s name underneath. If I can’t do this I will not use the work. Simple.

    People need to stop using the internet’s photo pools as a source for free images and respect the people that put the time and effort into creating their work. It’s only fair, especially if you’re using it to make yourself look good.

    I watermark all my work and no reuse is permitted without my permission. I also use a website called Copyscape to check my written work hasn’t been ripped off.

    Become part of the solution people. Don’t add to the problem. The internet is NOT the public domain and you don’t have the right to abuse the privileges you have been given to view the work of others.

  111. Thank you so much for this! I usually just linked to blah blah on delcious (linked to their profile) but its good to know the actual way of how to do it!

  112. Chelsea, last month another blogger copied my entire blog layout, a layout I spent months thinking of and working on. This blogger has a lot of the same followers that I do and I would hate for them to think that I copied her. I’m really upset by this. What do you think I should do? It’s not a photo but it’s my original website but she changed it slightly to fit her blog theme. Photographers get upset when people edit their photos and post without credit, why is there nothing to protect my hard work?

    Has anyone else had this problem? I would love to hear your advice

  113. ugh, i have aired my grievances about this on twitter TOO many times to count! so i agree with all your points – obviously.

    i also HATE it when people reblog other people’s work that i have featured on my blog, and then only credit my URL instead of crediting the actual person whose work it is.

    i make such a point of always crediting my sources and telling people that the work i feature is NOT mine – but they don’t seem to get it!

    anyway, i think 99% of the time people are just lazy.

  114. Thank you Chelsea for writing this post! I am in the process of just starting my own blog. Not knowing how to credit photos has been holding me back from publishing… I want to make sure I am doing it the proper way.

    Chelsea this info has been most helpful, thank you!!!

  115. Good to see this addressed. I know I’ve been guilty of posting things that I didn’t save the source for. Does anyone have a good idea for saving sources when you download a photo? I usually put it in the name of the photo but that can be difficult once you upload them to go back and re-find the information. Maybe folders for frequently-used sources? I re-blog, I think most of us do, but I really prefer to put up my own content and images… I wonder if there’s a way to search if anyone’s used them rather than just hope I stumble upon them one day?

  116. Awesome. I’ve been slacking on crediting images, even though I fully agree with you and know it’s unethical. Frankly, I needed a kick in the butt, and this is it. I’m cleaning up my blog because of this post. Thanks

  117. Great post! I’m of a few minds about this – first off, I totally agree that you should always credit sources. But I think that things like Twitter and Tumblr have changed the game a bit. Reblogging and retweeting content is a real part of how the web works – it’s changed the game – and like it or not, it automates the way people give credit and sometimes not in the way the original creator would like. Practices will always adapt based on the tools we use (technology in this case), and the process of auto-sharing is now the norm and is mostly considered acceptable, especially because of the context – I don’t think that most people who reblog are trying to claim ownership of the photos and content they reblog. In my opinion, it’s very different than how imagery is used on a traditional blog or website. So it’s not really stealing – unless you consider it stealing if someone goes: “Okay, here’s me taking this – putting a big sign on my house saying I took it – yep, here’s the thing I took!” But that doesn’t mean it isn’t something we need to grapple with. As a photographer myself, I know how easy it is to see your work shared, even by someone who is clearly not trying to take ownership for its creation, and not credited back to you in the way you would like.

    My only other point is that there are a lot of great sources of creative commons licensed images. Depending on the license, you can use these images without permission (sometimes even without proper attribution – again, depends on the license) on things like advertisements, banners, etc. See the creative commons website for more information: If you do an advanced search on Flickr you can specify that you are looking for creative commons content – and even the specific kind of use.

    Lastly, many images on sites like Flickr are rights restricted – this means that even if you credit them, you should not use them on your website.

  118. Thank you for taking the time to explain crediting. I am a new blogger and appreciate your advice. I did not realize how upsetting it is to photographers to not get the credit they deserve. I was not informed…I should have researched this sooner. Very informative and helpful, Thanks!

  119. Thank you for writing this up, Chelsea. It’s so well-put and informative without being preachy. I think it’s helpful for established bloggers like yourself to educate on this topic, where everyone seems to do something different. What I find interesting is how I’ve noticed several established bloggers who were even panelists at Alt doing the same “via pinterest” non-credit nonsense. I’ve never had the chance to go to Alt — hope to next year — but it seems really odd to me that all this money and time is spent on creating an informative blog conference, and then some of the main people still don’t follow the basics when it comes to photo crediting. I think you’re right in saying about the font size as well. In journalism school, I learned a lot about journalism ethics — and while bloggers are not journalists, it’d be nice if some of the same principles apply. It’s about your intention, and doing some generic “via pinterest” where obviously no one will ever hunt down the pin of the real source, or putting the credit in a teeny font so it’s practically hidden, does not have the good intent of crediting the source of the image.

  120. Hi, I posted a couple of days ago saying how helpful this post and comments have been, I think I have to take a little of that back, and clarify my position better, first I think it is 100% wrong to pass something off as your own when it isn’t, but there is a degree when all this gets a little too serious. I just jumped on my blog and thought I’d do a quick little post about something I saw and loved over the weekend, only it wasn’t quick and I doubt I will end up post it for fear of missing something and needlessly putting someone off, following the blog chains down the line, trying to find all the original sources of info and pictures, I hadn’t even got to writing the opinions, and the credits are already rolling on so to speak, and I really believe there is a big difference between a personal blog and a professional blog, if I see something I like, be it a photographer or a how to, I am more than happy to track it down to the original source following everyone’s “via” links and really enjoy reading their personal experiences along the way.

    If blogging is your job and you have a professional site and layout that works just for you, then yes, I really think you should be using all the above links ect, after all these peoples work and ideas are making you money, but if everyone, followed a little common courtesy, it wouldn’t be hard for readers to find their own way to a source, without too much trouble and find some fantastic new blogs along the way, ( I feel so happy to find a blog I didn’t know which is amazing when I’m looking back to find an artist or photographer I love, this is how I found frolic many moons ago, and I followed a link on this blog back to another to find who I was looking for , but bookmarked this along the way, all this time later, my interest has moved on but I still love reading this blog.)

    So while I don’t expect this to be a popular comment, I would be very sad if everyone had to make their little blogs private, because it was too time consuming or difficult to go so far down this road, and readers had to turn to are professional, paid bloggers, for inspiration. Originally blogging was just people sharing thoughts and ideas and getting their own message out there whatever it happens to be? now there is money to be made, it seems everyone wants to make sure their getting some?

  121. This is such a great post and discussion, I’ve been blogging only for a couple of months now and I’ve found this post really helpful. I always credit my sources but thought that by just crediting “via” was enough and you are right, we have to be more careful and try to get to the original source. From now on I will do by best to credit every single source accordingly. Thanks so much for this post, I love educating myself on proper blogging rules and the fact to be able to read and learn from this post has been amazing. 🙂

  122. Oh! forgot to include my question: What I’m I supposed to do when I create fashion or outfits boards? I always credit the brand and link the product to the page where you can buy it, is that enough?

  123. p.s not everybody is claiming to be a journalist, and perhaps if blogging were a job I wanted to create for myself I would defiantly be looking into studying the ethics, and tools ect, but from what I understand, blogging came from the every person who found some forms of journalism too court up in the politics ect, and decided to cut out the middle man? just my thoughts on a very complex issue. 

  124. Thanks for your comment, Becky. I think you are right. Photographers are going to go after large blogs who are making a profit off their images. I don’t think it makes it right for a small personal blog to be taking photos from people. A photographer is not the middleman. If I see my work on a small blog, I ask them to credit it. I love my work to be seen anywhere online but I want it credited otherwise it’s stealing. It’s pretty simple to me. Tumblr and Pinterest have made the issue complicated. If everyone followed the rules in the first place, it wouldn’t be so hard to find an original source. I know a lot of people who’ve been properly crediting for years and years and they are able to do it so the rest of us should as well.

    Thanks for all your comments guys!

  125. The thing is- your little personal blog MAY turn professional, many many personal blogs have, So what if it takes you an extra five minutes? If it does and you can’t be bothered spending the time to make sure the credit is right then don’t use the image! Your personal and quick satisfaction of getting a blog post up quickly doesn’t override the fact that by crediting incorrectly you’re hurting photographers and the teams around them.

    As someone who started personally and turned professional just because that was the way my blogging journey turned out- start the habit of crediting properly now before you have to go back through 600 posts and do it “right” then.

  126. Chelsea, well said. I do have a question. I use Tumblr to post my own work (and reblog), and do not credit myself. I do credit others, though not in the way you had suggested (I will start, promise). Do I need to credit myself? Or is it safe to assume people would know they are my own snap shots?

  127. I have to confess and come clean.I am one of those very ,very bad people who has credited to non-original sources, amongst other infractions. As stated above by Julia, no malicious intent behind this. Just ignorance and quite honestly, I saw other more experienced bloggers doing it so thought it was accepted norm. It’s no excuse. I will amend my ways going forward and do my best to correct the posts that were mis-credited (?). Thanks for illuminating such a very important issue,

  128. hey meghan!

    i think you should credit your work. because if people re-blog it than you have your credit on there! esp. with how tumblr works!! thanks for the comment!

  129. Hi Gaby- I think for product boards put the company with a link at the bottom to the original listing for the product. Companies like J.crew have purchased the copyright to their photography (learned this from Lisa Warninger) but smaller companies say Elizabeth Dye or TWigs and Honey will need you to credit their photographer as well as the company.

  130. Thanks for this discussion Chelsea!

    In response to Becky-Lee Hughes:
    When you hit “Publish” on a ‘personal’ blog and it’s out there for the world to see it is considered public. You are literally publishing something in a public place. It does not matter if you are small or large you are inviting readers to view your work. That’s fantastic!

    What is not fantastic is when work is published that is not credited. All blogs need to be crediting and linking to their sources. Big or small. If it’s a photograph the PHOTOGRAPHER needs to be credited and linked to. That photograph has a copyright, when you post it you are infringing on that copyright. It does not matter if you’re a small blog ‘sharing’ your inspiration. If that inspiration happens to have been created by someone else You’re Stealing and it’s against federal law. It’s not a gray issue, the laws are very clear and photographs are highly protected.

    The legal thing to do is:

    Ask. Credit. Link.

    -Ask the holder of the copyright if you can have permission to print their work
    -Credit the work clearly. That means in a font you can read.
    -Link that credit to the artists site.

    If you need more information copyright lawyer Andrew Epstein wrote it all out pretty clearly:

    Happy blogging!

  131. THANK YOU! I am a photographer and while I don’t mind people blogging about my photography, I have to teach many of the people I encounter how to credit a source. Dating myself here; but in school I learned how to credit works, in footnotes and bibliographies. It is just as important to credit visual and audio media as well.

  132. Thanks for writing this post Chelsea…it’s so important that us bloggers appreciate and show respect for each other.


  133. This is so helpful, Chelsea. I’ve been guilty of smaller text at the bottom of posts and of the even worse, I think, “found here”, which I definitely will not do anymore! Great guidance. Thank you.

  134. very useful and concise post chelsea, thanks! and thanks also to all contributors for your tremendously helpful insights.

    you’ve given me confidence, cleared away the haziness and i found your opinions on ‘best practices’ very valuable as i enter this wonderful world of blogging. again many thanks!

  135. This is great, Chelsea! Thank you so much for sharing. We do our absolute best to give credit where it’s due but it’s become very hard with the likes of Pinterest and Tumblr, as many people don’t credit the original source. It doesn’t take much extra work to keep track of links while you’re blogging and when people source things to Pinterest or Flikr, it’s my biggest pet peeve! We don’t use photos if we don’t know where they came from originally. Simple as that 🙂

  136. Very interesting discussion. I have to admit, my first reaction was to stop blogging (but that’s silly) – since I cannot figure out exactly what to do when crediting photos along with other blogging “rules” that I’m to abide by but cannot figure out completely.

    I am hyper aware of crediting photos and will attempt to do better in the future. Discussions like these should take place often to keep in in the forefront of people’s minds.

    That said, I have unsubscribed from a few big blogs who don’t seem to find it necessary to link any photos they if their big name is enough.

    I am not perfect in my photo posting and am grateful when the owner of a photo whose credit I’ve missed will contact me. I’m then thrilled to post a credit so it’s all done properly!

  137. This has been such an informative discussion! I’ve recently become addicted to pinterest and check that my repins link back to the original source post (as opposed to a general blog address), but haven’t explicitly credited in the description, thinking that a link was enough. Clearly it’s not and I appreciate the gentle prod!

    It also never occurred to me to credit the images on my personal, co-authored blog, since they belong to us, but it’s something that I think my co-author and I need to discuss… thanks for the heads up.

  138. Thank you for this! I’m a (very) new blogger and have been wondering how to properly do this. I want to give credit where credit is due and this really helps!

  139. interesting post Chelsea and some good points you’ve made there!
    I always credit the correct artist/photographer – sometimes with vintage images (for my vintage sTyle inspiration posts) its hard to find the original source so I put ‘google images’…maybe I should do more research.
    i think we all have a responsibility to do this and another tip is to save photos using the correct credit too….

  140. I completely agree with you, although I don’t care much about font size or how you credit a source. I’m ok with whatecer the author chooses to do as long I can trace an image back to its original source.
    That’s just a design issue.

    But when it comes to crediting blogs where you found an image (via), what happens when a blogger doesn’t credit the image and I spend time searching and finding the original source through TinyEye, for example?
    I actually think it’s unfair to credit a find when due credit wasn’t paid the first time.

  141. I never really took much notice of the photo credits on the blogs I read, but since reading this post I’ve been looking out for them and I’m shocked at how many big, well-known blogs don’t properly credit their photos. What an eye-opener.

  142. Thank you Chelsea..I love what I find on the internet, its inspiring and I always try to find the orginal source, it makes me feel bad using something thats not mine and I don´t tell whose it is. But its nice to learn more here, sometimes you just don´t know whats allowed and what isn´t. The last thing I want is not able to show the amazing work of others because they stop us from using it as they do not receive credit for it.
    I sometimes use a smaller font but will keep this in mind and keep it the same size.

    have a good weekend!

  143. Hi Chelsea,

    I was directed to this post by a commenter on my blog; she felt that because I did not credit photos appropriately she no longer wanted to be a follower of mine. I was of course saddened by this. I duly read your post and the comments and was also directed to ‘Design Sponge’ to the poster concept. It was never my intention to do a ‘bad thing’ in not crediting images – I did credit where I could, under the impression that was sufficient. There was such a proliferation of blogs/tumblrs where images were uncredited that when I started, I genuinely came to the conclusion that it was appropriate. I see, now these principles have been outlined by you, that it’s not OK, for many reasons.

    We must acknowledge that the internet is a forum where the inappropriate can blossom like mushroom spores; it is unregulated and it’s not as if it is possible to gain regulation; this will be the conundrum of our generation. We have access to this incredible tool (in the web) but it was created without setting boundaries. This means images on the web may be considered ‘fair game’ for all as they are not a tangible asset. I see that the nirvana is to get express permission from the owner of an image, but in your follow-up comments you have said that it’s not necessary to have permission as long as the link takes you back to the original source.

    It feels to me like there are inconsistent rules of thumb here – to a copyright lawyer nothing is OK unless it adheres to the law (and by the way is copyright law global? I live in the UK so our law may be different to US law or Australian law). I think it’s a grey area and finding myself in the middle of it has been disconcerting! Especially as blogging is something that I really love and that has brought me such happiness. It’s a shame now that I feel like I am simply not doing it right – no matter what efforts I make to rectify in future. I guess that’s the difference between ‘professional’ bloggers and those of us who just share what we think or what inspires us; I am, it would seem, a novice in these matters! Nevertheless – a really interesting and relevant debate. Thanks, Louise.

  144. Lou Boo!

    Thanks so much for your comment. I can understand how sad that must have been to hear that from a reader.

    Yes, to be within the law you must ask permission but bloggers are considered press and many people love to be featured (whether on a big blog or a small blog). It’s not press if you don’t credit them. The big thing here is to credit the photographer and ideally, if you can ask their permission that is great. Most photographers like to be asked but many are ok as long as there is a link to their work. If you are sharing their work without a credit it is not press for them, it is stealing. Whether you are a big blog or a small blog. I understand that it appears to be ok when you look at the Internet but photographers are getting more concerned about this issue and are going to start taking action.

    As long as you have the original source linked on your blog there’s no need to be scared. I’ve been blogging that way for 4 years and never found it to be a problem. If I can’t find a source for something, I don’t use it. I’ve never had a photographer ask me to take something down. They are happy to be featured. It’s when they aren’t featured but their images are stolen that they get upset.

    I don’t think these rules have to impair creativity or make you scared. As long as you link to the original source you are good! Use to find the original source on an image:) If you really want to use something, ask your readers if they know where it’s from. Keep blogging and keep having fun!

  145. Hi Chelsea – WOW you are a font of knowledge – have updated my link, thanks.

    This is a really interesting but kinda tricky area. But I can see it’s way easier if everyone links properly then you don’t have this whole ‘lost’ image issue! It feels a little like David and Goliath though…

    Thanks for your response – I appreciate it.
    Lou x

  146. This is such an important topic and your post has added clarity to the topic. I know that lately I have stopped blogging for fear I might not always be giving credit to the right person. I’m giving a presentation at my school in a week on this topic and I will look forward to the discussion. As technology changes quickly, we all need to remember that it must be done right. This discussion has been very enlightening! Thanks Chelsea.

  147. I am so glad that you posted this. I started hearing about Pinterest from some of the blogs I follow. So, I thought I would join. Tonight I tried to start a board. If you click on the photo twice, it shows the origin. Photo after photo was copyrighted. Each blog, author or flickr owner clearly stated All Rights Reserved. Yet they were posted there.

    I share most things on my blog, but I have discovered my photos which are clearly marked All Rights Reserved showing up without permission. I truly think people who use Google Images and places like Pinterest think it is okay to use these images without ever checking to see if they were placed there with permission in the first place. I have had a few people contact me who found my images on google images, and ask my permission to use my photos.

    Anytime anyone asks my permission I usually say yes. Unfortunately that happens rarely.

    Thanks again for writing something that has been on my mind too.


  148. Thank you for this post. Just now found this as I am going through a strange issue with the use of my photos by another photographer. I did an underwater shoot with another photographer/friend. She was pregnant and the model. She had this concept that she wanted to have photographed. She did not own any underwater photography equipment (I did/do). She did not know how to do underwater photography (I do). She told me about her concept and I told her everything she needed to do and bring, that she needed to make a storyboard (she had several different outfits/props/concepts within the bigger concept). I told her how it would work and all.
    Then we did the shoot. Here is my first mistake. I gave her my raw images to edit so that they would reflect her style more than my editing. Next thing I know she is posting them with her photography logo over them and taking credit as the photographer.
    Well, it got nasty to where I had to tell her to take them all off every post in her blog/site/FB/ etc. It was terrible. There are still many of my images out there with her logo on them. As a photographer I thought she would understand and just fix the problem and credit me as the photographer but she started ranting about it until I had to bring up copyrights and legalities.
    Anyway, I learned the lesson but it was painful. Guess even other photographers can be on the wrong side of this issue.

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