a photo of a tree on a wooden wall.

How to Credit a Photo Correctly in 2023 (+ Examples)

Learning how to credit a photo correctly is essential whether you're a photographer or anyone who shares images online. Here's how to do it properly.

Do you know how to credit a photo correctly?

Thanks to online platforms, social networks, and other media we have access to more images than ever before. It’s very easy to share them too.

This gives many people the idea that all you have to do to use or distribute a photo you like is download it or click the Share button. However, this isn’t the case.

To use a photo that you didn’t create, you need permission and in many cases, give credit to the author.

So, here’s a quick guide that explains how to do it.

I also tell you what not to do, and some tips to recognize when you need to do it.

I’ve also included some examples of how to credit images from many popular photo websites.

Ready? Let’s go!

How Do You Give Credit to a Photo?


All photographs have at least one author. Giving credit to a photo means that you’re saying who the author is when you share it on a publication, social media account, and any other digital or printed media.

This is very important not only because it’s the author’s right, but also because it’s often part of their livelihood.

Many authors get part of their income by selling the license to their photographs.

Other photographers choose not to charge for the license.

This is because it will be useful to get their work known by the public attracting paying clients. However, without credit, this purpose would be lost.

Also, the credit is useful so that other users know who to contact if they want to use the photo themselves.

So, now that you know why it’s important to give credit – let’s see what you need to consider.

  • It’s important to know that giving credit doesn’t substitute for the author’s permission. Before using a photograph, you need to know if it’s OK to do so – this isn’t necessarily linked with you giving credit or not. This has to do with the license of use, which is something I’ll talk about further on.
  • Once you know it’s OK to share an image, get informed about the information you need to include. The author might want to use the given name, but they may prefer a pseudonym. You may need to include a link to the license type, or the author’s website. Sometimes you only need to credit the author – others, you need to credit the collector or the website.
  • Make sure you put the credit in a visible place, traditionally it’s placed underneath the photograph. Otherwise, it can be added at the end of the article or the book. In these cases, you need to include a reference that links which image belongs with which credit if you’re using more than one.

How to Credit a Photo Correctly: Example of Proper Photo Credit

This is an example of a very traditional photo credit line:

Author, Title of the photograph, Title of the series (if applicable), Date of creation, License type, via X (X=website, collection, platform, etc.)

While this is a very complete photo credit line, it’s not always necessary to include all this information.

If the attribution is optional, or the author agrees, you may only add their name as a photo credit line.

In most cases, the website where you find the image or the authors themselves will provide you with their preferred photo credit line.

I’ll show you some of these examples at the end of the article.

How You Should NOT Credit a Photo

If you scroll through your social media, you’ll find several disclaimers people add when they use copyrighted material without permission.

Even if this isn’t done with malice, it doesn’t substitute the author’s permit.

So, you’ll be risking legal repercussions despite using these disclaimers. Here are a few examples that you’ll commonly see but shouldn’t use.

  • All rights belong to the author(s).
  • DM for credit/removal.
  • No copyright infringement intended.
  • I do not own the rights to this photograph.
  • This image isn’t mine.

Also, giving proper credit doesn’t necessarily grant you the right to use or distribute the photograph. It depends on the type of license associated with the image.

How Do You Know If You Should Credit a Photo?

As I mentioned before, permission and credit are not the same thing.

You might see a photo with credit but the person didn’t have permission to use it.

You’ll also find images without photo credit that are perfectly legal – for example, the ones that fall into the public domain.

So, how do you know when you’re legally required to give credit to a photo?

In most cases, you’ll find the terms of use on the website that holds the photo.

Here are some of the most common terms that can help you navigate the legal jargon.

  • Royalty Free – This is a type of license used commonly on stock photography websites both free and paid. In most cases, a Royalty Free photo doesn’t require attribution. However, some paid stock websites do ask for credit when they release an asset for free.
  • Copyright / All Rights Reserved – In most cases, any of these terms means that you need permission to use the photo. When you ask for it, the right’s owner will let you know the requirements for granting this consent. Here, they’ll let you know how to behave regarding the credit.
  • Public Domain – Many people don’t know that the copyright has an expiration date. If there have been enough years after the author’s death, the photo falls into the public domain. The number of years may vary according to the country. In any case, once the image belongs to the public domain, attribution is no longer required.
  • Creative CommonsCreative Commons (CC) is a nonprofit organization that has released a series of licenses. CC licenses are the international standard to grant different levels of use to your images. The intention is to create a way where people have free access to creative works while still protecting the authors. While each license sets a variety of conditions to grant use, they all require attribution to the author.

When there’s no information about the license or restrictions, it usually means that it’s not free to use.

In such cases, you should write to the author and request consent and ask whether or not you should give photo credit.

The best advice I can give you is that it’s better to be safe than sorry. So, ask the photographer, agency, or website if you’re not sure whether you should credit a photo or not. If you can’t reach anyone who can give consent, it’s best to find another photo.

On a personal note, I believe that ‘sharing is caring’ is a good guideline.

If you have the chance, credit the author (photographer) even if it’s not legally required.

How To Credit a Photo – Examples

As I mentioned before, most platforms and agencies have a photo credit line that you can copy and paste.

Otherwise, you can find their preferred template on the terms and conditions page.

Here are some photo credit examples from some of the most common photography websites.

Wikimedia Commons

On Wikimedia Commons, you’ll find images from the public domain or photos with a Creative Commons license.

If you want to use one of these photos, you can scroll down the page to the Licensing section.

Here, you’ll see which type of license the image has and what you’re allowed to do.

Don’t assume that two images will have the same type of license, always check before you use them.

a screen shot of a Wikimedia Commons page

Also, next to the image you can click on the “Use this file” link to open a pop-up window where you’ll find the photo credit line.

It will also tell you if you’re legally required to use it or not.

three birds perched on top of a red flower.

Credit: Touhid biplob, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons


Unsplash is a stock photography website that belongs to Getty Images. You can use the free version or Unsplash+.

Either way, you don’t need permission from the author and you don’t need to credit them. Of course, attribution is always appreciated.

Screenshot from Unsplash

If you decide to give photo credit, the suggested format is Photo by X on Unsplash.

a building with a glass roof.

Photo by Mike Hindle on Unsplash


Just like Unsplash, Pexels offers images that are free to use without permission or photo credit.

However, since the authors aren’t earning anything from the use of their images, it’s courteous to at least give them credit.

You can also donate, by the way.

Screenshot from Pexels.com

As soon as you download the image, you’ll get a pop-up window with the credit line that you can copy and paste if you decide to do so.

a man is working on a pile of red sticks.

Image Source: Photo by Quang Nguyen Vinh


This stock photography website mainly works with paid licenses that don’t require attribution.

However, it has a selection of free photos which you may use but you need to give credit.

In this case, they’re not asking you to credit the author but the website.

how to activate with a free license Depositphotos.

If you’re planning to use them on the web, video, apps, or games – you’ll receive a link to copy and paste when you download the photo.

For offline use, you can simply type Image Resource: Depositphotos.

Instagram / Facebook / Other Social Media Sites


While it’s easy to think that you can just share anything you find on social media, this isn’t the case.

You should always ask for permission before you repost someone’s content.

On Instagram and Facebook, the most common way to credit someone is by tagging them.

This way, other people can see their accounts and follow them.

To tag them, simply type an @ followed by their handle.


View this post on Instagram


A post shared by Pixabay (@pixabay)

Here’s a helpful illustration created by Hootsuite on using images on social media and giving photo credits to image owners:




Note that it’s fine to reshare images within a social media platform using native sharing tools.

Retweets, reshares, repins, or content reshared to an Instagram story, for example automatically credit the creator.


Flickr is one of the platforms that most respect the author’s rights.

When users upload their photographs to Flickr, they can choose the type of license they prefer from the ones supported.

Most of them are Creative Commons licenses, although, there are the All Rights Reserved and some Public Domain ones where you don’t need to credit any image owner.

a screen shot of a website with a lot of text on it.

So, make sure you check which type of license the image has before using it.

In the following example, the author chose an Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs license.

According to these terms, you must give appropriate credit which means: the author’s name, copyrights notice, license notice, disclaimer notice, and link to the material.

a black and white photo of a cloudy sky over a body of water.

Credit: Stephen Murphy, Seascape 1, Some Rights Reserved, CC-BY-NC-ND-2.0, No changes were made, via Flickr.

Blog Posts

Giving photo credits in a blog post can be done in a few ways:

  1. Caption: You can include the credit in the caption of the photo. This is often done in the format “Photo by [Photographer’s Name]” or “Image courtesy of [Photographer’s Name or Source]”.
  2. End of the Post: You can list all photo credits at the end of the blog post. This is a good option if you have multiple photos from different sources.
  3. Within the Text: If the photo is being discussed in the blog post, you can include the credit within the text itself, such as “This photo, taken by [Photographer’s Name], shows…”
  4. On the Photo: In some cases, you might put the credit directly on the photo, usually in a corner, in small text. This is less common in blog posts but can be a good option for certain types of images.

Occasionally on websites (such as this one), it’s not possible to include image credits in the featured image (aka showcase images) due to limitations of the website theme.

In this case, the photographer’s credit can be given elsewhere in the article, or creative commons images should be used which do not legally require a photo caption or for the image owner to be credited.

What About Laws on Giving Proper Credit?

Laws about photo credits vary by country and can be complex, but they generally fall under copyright law.

In many jurisdictions, photographers automatically hold the copyright to their photos as soon as they’re taken, and others need permission to use these photos in certain ways.

Giving photo credit does not necessarily give you the right to use a photo. Even if you credit the photographer, you could still be infringing on their copyright if you use their photo without permission.

This is especially true for commercial use, but it can also apply to non-commercial use depending on the jurisdiction and the specific circumstances.

In some cases, a Creative Commons license or other type of license might allow you to use a photo without asking for permission, as long as you follow the terms of the license, which often include giving credit.

Failing to give credit or using a photo without permission can result in legal consequences, including fines. If you’re unsure about the laws in your country or the terms of a specific license, it’s a good idea to consult with a legal professional.

US Image Copyright Law on Image Credits

In the United States, copyright law protects original works of authorship, including photographs, as soon as they are created in a fixed form. This means that the photographer automatically holds the copyright to any photos they take.

Under U.S. copyright law, it’s generally illegal to use someone else’s copyrighted work without their permission.

This applies even if you give them credit, and even if you’re not using the photo for commercial purposes.

There are some exceptions, such as fair use, but these are complex and depend on the specific circumstances.

FAQs on Giving Photo Credit

Why is giving photo credit important?

Giving photo credit is important because it acknowledges the work of the photographer. It respects their intellectual property rights and can also provide exposure for their work.

How do I give photo credit?

Photo credit can be given by mentioning the photographer’s name and, if applicable, the source of the image. This can be done in a caption or description of the image, or directly on the image itself.

Is it always necessary to give photo credit?

While it’s always good practice to give credit, it’s especially important when using someone else’s work under a Creative Commons license or similar agreement. If you’re unsure, it’s best to ask for permission and give credit to avoid potential copyright issues.

Can I use a photo without giving credit if it’s from a free stock photo site?

While some free stock photo sites don’t require you to give credit, it’s still considered good practice to do so. Always check the site’s terms of use to be sure.

What happens if I don’t give photo credit?

Not giving photo credit can lead to copyright infringement issues, which can result in legal action. It’s also disrespectful to the photographer who put time and effort into creating the image.
What’s the difference between image credits and photo credits?

“Image credits” and “photo credits” are terms that are often used interchangeably. Both refer to the practice of acknowledging the creator of an image or photograph.

However, there can be a slight difference in usage based on the type of visual media being credited.

“Photo credit” is typically used when referring specifically to photographs, while “image credit” might be used in a broader sense to include other types of images, such as illustrations, graphics, or digital artwork.

How can you get the owner’s permission to use an image?

To get the owner’s permission to use an image, you first need to identify and contact the copyright holder, which is typically the photographer or the agency that represents them.

You can then send them a request detailing how and where you plan to use the image and ask for their permission.

If they agree, they may provide you with a license or written agreement, which could involve a fee or other conditions, or they might simply give you permission to use the image for free.

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Shotkit Writer & Camera Gear Reviewer

Ana Mireles is a Mexican researcher that specializes in photography and communications for the arts and culture sector.

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