Do Blog Photos Always Require Credits?

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My Korean bibimbap lunch at a New York restaurant last summer, during BlogHer.

Recently a writer challenged me on my occasional lack of photo credits. Here’s what she said in her email:

“I’ve been reading your blog for quite some time now and really appreciate your thought-provoking posts – not to mention ensuing discussions from all the food bloggers!

One thing that has always struck me as odd, however, is that I notice that you don’t always give the source credit for the photos you use on your blog. I write for [websites], and making sure to give proper photo credit is a huge deal for us.

Whether we take the photos ourselves, find them on Creative Commons, borrow them from personal blogs, or even just lift them from, we make sure to give credit, link back to the original, and of course, ask permission when necessary. I’ve also been burned before when I forgot to give credit and received an irate e-mail from the photographer!

Since so much of your blog is about exploring and protecting bloggers rights, I just find it surprising that you don’t give credit for all your photos. Is there a reason for this? Do you give the credit somewhere else on your site that might not be obvious?

Again, thank you for your insightful posts and for providing a forum for all this excellent discussion. I really don’t mean any disrespect by bringing this up, but have found it genuinely puzzling and wanted to hear your perspective.”

Yep, she got me. I don’t always use a photo credit. But I have my reasons. Here they are:

1. I take the photo. My blog is personal, about me, and features my photography occasionally. Web sites are a group project and most often the photography comes from outside the group. Therefore it deserves credit. Actually all photos on a website should have a credit, unless they fall into the exceptions below.

2. The photo is a publicity headshot meant to be used by media. I sometimes write about people in the public eye, and I use their headshot from their website. If no photo credit appears on their website, I don’t use it on mine.

3. I use a stock photo house. I really don’t want to put its name as a photo credit. Must I?

And I certainly would not give credit to Amazon.

What do you think of her strategy? Do all photos other than yours need a credit, or can you leave them off under certain circumstances?


  1. says

    It depends entirely on which license the photo was released under.

    If you take the photo – no need to state it.

    If you use a Creative Commons image – usually you have to give credit – but again it depends on which CC license was selected.

    If you use stock photos – depends on the terms of the license under which you’ve acquired the photo. Usually stock photos don’t require attribution.

    “Lifting” photos from blogs is not nice – unless the bloger specifically gives you permission to do so.

    I’d be VERY surprised if Amazon, and other large e-stores, gave permission to use photos from their website, hence even with attribution, using their images is in the no-go zone.

    • diannejacob says

      Agree with all. Re Amazon, I think I was referring to book jacket images, not photographs. Probably it is not kosher to take photos from their site, but then, if the photo is taken from the side of a box and is not theirs to begin with, that’s another issue.

  2. says

    I had a debate recently on photo rights with my husband. In a review, can I use an image from that restaurant or cookbook author’s website if it links back to their site? I thought of it as no more than a very pretty “link,” but the other party thought there could be a copyright issue. Now I’m wondering if I just needed to give credit? It’s a rare occurrence for me, but it does come up.

    • says

      Angie, if the image is copyrighted, you cannot use it unless you are given express consent to do so, even if you give credit. Simple as that. Copyright being a form of licensing.

        • says

          The website should have a copyright statement – which should include images/photos. If there is no copyright statement, then I take it to mean the photos are not copyrighted.

          Some people argue that images have de facto copyright to the author, unless specifically stated otherwise.

    • diannejacob says

      I don’t think so, Angie. You would first have to check to find out if it’s okay to use the photo, by contacting the author or restaurant.

      • says

        Went back to the website and sure enough there is a little copyright symbol at the very bottom of the page. Time to go back and snap my own picture. No complaints. It’s a great restaurant :-)

  3. says

    My husband and I are photographers and we’ve debated this issue several times. I am often appalled by how people assume that because it’s on the internet it’s free to use as they choose. “Oh, I got it from Google! I can use it!” Uh, no. Copyright rests with the photographer and even in instances of Creative Commons you have to consider the copyright owner aka the photographer. Some photographers still request attribution when others are interested in using an image.

    Taking a photo and adding credits is still copyright infringement if you fail to contact the photographer. Simpy lifting a photo from a site or other blog is also stealing/copyright infringement. If caught, the photographer can either demand a cease and desist or seek damages. If photo is registered with the copyright offices, damages can be even steeper.

    People would not want items belonging to them to be stolen so why are photos any different? Because it’s online? Because unless it’s in print it’s essentially a non-tangible item? I don’t get it. Why disrespect us (not saying you personally by the way) as photographers by failing to contact and ASK PERMISSION first before using?

  4. sam breach says

    Come on now Dianne, you are not telling the whole truth here. I found a photograph you had taken from a clearly copyrighted website and pointed it out to you back in December. Your response was to make a flippant remark “Oh my, that is bad isn’t it.” And the stolen picture is still sitting there, decorating that post.

    I have to agree with the writer has a point. The situations you point out above might well be valid of you have followed the terms specified by their authors.
    But when you steal photographs and use them with blatant disregard for their copyright, I think you are setting a very bad example indeed.

    Sam Breach.

    • diannejacob says

      I agreed with you before that I had made an error. But then I did not take it down. So you are right. Still my bad. I will take it down right now.

  5. says

    Oh gosh, many of us bloggers are guilty of this! I know I try to use all my own photography, but in a few instances, when reporting on trends…I used pictures I admired. . I do try to link back to the site and give credit in the caption, but never thought about doing more. I’ll be more careful to go the whole mile in the future!

  6. says

    I’m with you, Dianne. It’s foolish to credit yourself if you took the photo. “This photograph was taken by the fabulous Dianne Jacob.” Isn’t that self-glorification? And why credit the stock photography site if you’ve paid to use a photograph? That’s why you paid for it in the first place! So you can use it! But note that some stock photography sites have limitations on use of paid photography.

    And of course we all know that using someone else’s photographs without consent is just NOT right.

    • diannejacob says

      Have you missed the ones that say I am fabulous? I think they’re around here somewhere. LOL.
      And some stock image sites require that you credit them, so they are not all the same.

  7. says

    Using photos without credit is EXACTLY like using writing without credit. If you use uncredited photos or words on your blog, it’s (generally, and I think correctly) assumed that you are the creator of said work. The words and photography on my site are created by me, and when there are exceptions, I absolutely give credit where credit is due, with a link to the contributor’s website, and always with his/her permission. If you use any photos or text (including recipes) on your blog that aren’t created by you, it’s just plain good form to cite contributors, sources, inspiration, etc.

    The only exception to this personal standard that I’ve set for myself is the use of, modified in a satiric manner, Ruth Bourdain’s twitter avatar on my site. This image has obviously been created by an anonymous source. Does using an anonymously-created image make me guilty of copyright infringement? Tricky. Would love feedback about this.

    • diannejacob says

      I think if you have altered a photo sufficiently so that it can no longer be recognized as the original, that is okay. Not sure that you have done so on your blog.

      • says

        I think if you have altered a photo sufficiently so that it can no longer be recognized as the original, that is okay

        @diannejacob – Actually, this is not ok – photos cannot be modified without consent, either. I linked to a guide about copyright and Creative Commons I wrote – if it’s Creative Commons you’ll need to make sure the owner has given permission for its modification (it’s not automatic)

  8. says

    Is this a trick question about photograph credits being optional?? Just as I would list every reference when writing a scientific papaer & obtain a copyright for every diagram taken from a published book, I would definitely give the credit to the person who owns the material… Its simple as that.. no two ways about it.
    I’d definitely try to get a copyright permission if I were making money out of the picture directly or indirectly. (I’ve never traveled on this path before, so I guess this is a theoretical issue at present)

  9. Sandra Rouse says

    Please note that using someones image doesn’t just mean linking to someone…you must additionally clearly credit the photographer. Many of my images are found on blogs with no credit as to look like the art of the blogger NOT that of the artist/photographer that took time to take the photo. Please be fair, it takes so little time to put a credit on an image.

    • diannejacob says

      Definitely, if you get permission to use someone’s photo on your site, use a photo credit to go with it.

  10. says

    I use two types of photos. My own, and stock. 90% of the photos on my blog are my own. I also add a watermark to each photo I take.

    I have found my photos posted on other sites with the watermark cropped out, and even found one on a site that sells photos (in India) that left my watermark in!!! (Who sells/buys a photo with a copyright watermark in it??)

    It takes two seconds to give credit. I just don’t understand why people can’t do that much. From my perspective, it gives you MORE credibility as a blogger for giving credit where credit is due. I don’t see it as subtracting from your blog or your work just because it’s labeled as belonging to somebody else.

    Theft is theft.

  11. says

    With photos it’s about more than citation, each photo’s license will come with particular terms of use. For example, with mine I do not allow any publication without permission, and attribution is not a substitute for obtaining permission (and is a constant source of my headaches because no one reads my copyright statements and uses them anyways). But I think that is a bit of a tangent off from your original post….

    I pride myself on using my own photography on my website, as photography is a huge passion of mine. But even if I’m using a photo that was licensed for everyone on wikipedia, I’ll still credit it. It’s only fair to the person who created the work, and unlike a recipe, can’t be easily “tweaked 3x” to call it yours. Derivative works are often a © violation as well.

    But if you had clear permission to publish a photo without attribution, then I do not think that you have to cite it just to make people aware of the fact that you are using an image through the correct methods. As for Amazon, according to their Conditions of Use it looks to me like their images fall within their protected content. But maybe I read it wrong.

    • diannejacob says

      Thanks for providing this link, Jenn. Although Amazon has to be joking — that because they use an image of a book jacket, that it belongs to them?! Right.

      I would love to know how much an original image has to be altered before it is not a copyright violation.

      • says

        I’m no lawyer so I can’t be sure, but this seems like a good explanation of derivative works to me. I *think* it has to be clear that the original image was not directly based off of another previous work in order to not violate © (I believe many CC licenses explicitly state “no derivative works”, and I’m pretty sure that is included in “All Rights Reserved” as well). However I’m fairly confident that cropping off my watermark, rounding the corners and adding some text to then republish my photo without my permission is not kosher.

  12. says

    Yes, unless they are your own photos. Credit, and permission to use the photos. You’d be appalled if someone reposted one of your posts in its entirety, without permission. Stealing photos — even from — is no different.

    • diannejacob says

      Well okay, I agree in general. But if I use a headshot for someone and there is no credit on their page, I don’t think I should have to find out who took the shot.

    • diannejacob says

      Not sure, Lydia. The book jacket images don’t belong to Amazon. They are available from the publisher, and the publisher does not request that you credit the photographer of it.

  13. says

    I always provide a source credit when I use photos other than those I have taken myself, even stock photos. Isn’t doing otherwise copyright infringement? I know how much I hate when others use my photos w/o credit. . . would never do that to someone else.

    • diannejacob says

      If you pay to use a photo, is it copyright infringement? That photographer has put his/her photo onto the stock photo site.

      • says

        Each stock photo sites have different licensing agreement. They actually get you to agree to the license agreement before allowing you to download the photo (iStock photo and others do that). It pays to read what you agree to. :)

    • diannejacob says

      It’s not copyright infringement if the stock photo house does not require you to use a photo credit.

  14. Rick Jaworski says

    Dianne, I simply can’t believe this posting. You have gone on and on over the last year how people take other people’s recipes and use them. Yet on this issue you seem to think it is okay and according to Sam are doing it right now.. The bottom line is, recipes are formulas and are not copyrightable. Photos on the other hand ARE intellectual property and therefore are copyrightable. When you use someone’s recipe it is perfectly legal according to the law. Look at the new site recently mentioned in USA today. As much as I don’t like how they are scraping everyone’s recipes including many bloggers, it’s legal. But when you use someone’s photo you are infringing on their intellectual property. That’s the law of this country and is NOT up for debate. Simply making a post on whether this is right or not does not change the law. A law that you are apparently breaking according to Sam. If that picture is still on your blog, you are infringing on the owner’s copyright, plain and simple. There is no debate. As a food photographer myself that regularly has his work stolen, I’m ticked that you would try to encourage this behavior by even debating if it’s okay or not with this posting. Using someones photo on your blog with out permission is infringing, plain and simple. No debate.

    Rick Jaworski
    CEO iFood Media LLC

    • diannejacob says

      Wrong, Rick. If a stock photo house does not require a photo credit, I am not obligated to use one. If the photo is made available for p.r. purposes, with no photo credit, I am not obligated to use one.

      • Rick Jaworski says

        You are not even addressing my issue and you are changing the subject. My comment was based on what Sam said that you didn’t take down a copyrighted photo. It had nothing to do with a stock photo which of course you don’t need to credit. Your comment to Sam (above) admits that you were in error and were going to take it down. That was my point. If this was a stock photo, why would you be taking it down, and say you were in error?. This is what we are all talking about, NOT stock photos which you pay for and don’t need to credit.. We are talking about photos you take without permission which apparently you did from you response to Sam’s comment.

        • diannejacob says

          Oh, you were talking about that comment! Yes, I did make a mistake. I was trying to be coy by showing a photo of the place without naming the place, and it was wrong of me.

          That’s three apologies now. I certainly hope it’s enough!

  15. says

    I take almost all of my own photos, so it’s not much of an issue for me. I rarely use images from other sources, with two notable exceptions: I’ll use the logo of an event or festival (without attribution) if I’m promoting the event, but I always link back to the event’s website (which is a form of attribution, isn’t it?) I will (very rarely) use cover images of cookbooks lifted from Amazon without attribution. My (possibly lame) rationale is that, in both cases, my use of the image aids in bringing attention to the event or published work–which is the whole point of why those images exist in the first place. But those are my only exceptions….I think images deserve the respect accorded to words.

    To me, this is THE major issue facing most bloggers….they’re reasonably clear on copyright issues surrounding words, but somehow ignore the issues surrounding images.

    • says

      Celeste, your rationale for using images from Amazon is indeed incorrect. Even if *you* perceive value for the image’s owner in your use of their image, doesn’t mean that there *is* value-added. It also doesn’t mean that you’re allowed to do it under the image’s owner’s terms.

      • says

        Yes, I know it’s incorrect. I haven’t used an Amazon cover shot in quite some time, and I won’t use another one in the future. But I’d argue that additional, measurable eyeballs on a product is clearly adding value…it’s not perception, it’s reality. People do view the blog post and then visit Amazon.

        Most recently, I’ve linked directly to the Previews on Google Books….it’s a bit more vendor-neutral than a direct Amazon link (I don’t participate in any sort of affiliate or revenue-generating program w/Amazon), and I know that readers appreciate a direct look at a potential new book purchase.

      • says

        If you are an Amazon affiliate, you are indeed allowed to use Amazon’s photo to link back to the product on Amazon. In fact, Amazon makes this very easy to do by providing a “Link to this Page” widget that allows you to select whether you want a link with Text and Image, Image Only, or Text Only. If you select Image Only, you are instructed to save the image on your own server and then link to the product on Amazon.

        I would agree that if you’re not using the image to link back to Amazon, you shouldn’t use it. But how many of us do that?

        • diannejacob says

          Hah! Good point. The problem is that I don’t believe the images on Amazon belong to Amazon. Ex. the book jacket of Will Write for Food belongs to my publisher.

          • says

            Those images may belong to your publisher but Amazon has the right to use them on their website given that they are selling your book. That does not make it alright for someone else to copy the image from Amazon’s website and use it on their own website without permission. If you are Amazon affiliate, it is different because you have a contract with Amazon that allows you to do so. If I were you, I would ask my publisher what their contract with Amazon says about sharing of images not just on but their affiliate sites.

          • diannejacob says

            When I want to use a book cover on my blog I do an image search and find one that is the right size. I do not use the images from Amazon but since they do not belong to Amazon in the first place, I don’t think it matters. Publishers make the images available for publicity so there is no reason to ask for permission.

          • John says

            Just out of curiosity…

            If publishers make the images available for publicity, why don’t you go to the publishers site and download the image, rather than using someone elses bandwidth?

          • diannejacob says

            They all come from the same place — the publisher, so I don’t see why it matters where I get it from. I’m using such a small amount of someone’s bandwith once that it’s not an issue.

    • diannejacob says

      A logo is not a photo, so I am not sure if the same rules apply. Since the logo states the owner of the logo by default, I can’t see that you would need permission to use it, but I could be wrong. Anyone know?

      • says

        I think you’ll find logos are also off-limits when looking at using them. Big companies, such as Hasbro, Nike, etc have been making a lot of noise about illegal use of their logos – that is, used without permission. They charge to let you use their trademark. A trademark is different than a copyright, of course – but that’s another story entirely :)

        • diannejacob says

          Yes, trademarks are different. I have used logos in blog posts. I will have to now ask for permission, I suppose!

  16. says

    Photography is so much harder for me than writing. My photos aren’t great but they are mine….and I’ve spent sweat and hot flashes to get them. I try to avoid using anyone else’s photos, but when I do I always give credit. It is the ethical thing to do.

  17. says

    Nic (first commenter?) is right. Safest (and best) to always attribute. I always attribute my photos as well on my site. I’ve found that since starting this practice, I get fewer people lifting them without any attribution. Bad to copy a photo from anywhere if you ask me.

  18. says

    I agree with the first commenter, Nic.
    No one expects anyone to credit their own photographs saying “I took this!” But blog photographs always require crediting. If you use a photograph/ image or even clipart that is someone else’s you must credit them as the source, provided they have given you permission to use it in the first place. There are some sites that allow you to use their “free” images without crediting them.
    I don’t think stock image companies expect you to credit them when you pay for the photographs but I think that again depends on the licence under which you have acquired it.

    If people get upset over copyright issues with recipes, I don’t understand why should it be different with photographs? The copyright issue and law is the same. It doesn’t matter whether it is done by an amateur or a professional, whether for commercial purposes or not..
    Using a photograph without permission is pure theft. I have just finished fighting with Good Housekeeping (in India) for using my photograph without permission. I’m now in the middle of another fight with a national newspaper group for doing the same thing.

    So Dianne, if you have used someone else’s photograph (with their permission, I hope) it is only fair that you do credit them as the source.

    • diannejacob says

      Apparently it is different with photographs. If I buy a mugshot of myself from you, and you do not require me to credit you on my website, then I won’t. And then everyone who does an interview with me or reviews my book and uses my photo will not credit you as the photographer.

      • says

        Maybe it is different but I am not sure how the matter of copyright and crediting is. In the example sited by you, I understand that you would not credit me as the photographer since I have sold you the photograph and probably handed over the rights to you.
        But in my opinion, if someone else uses that photograph from your site, they should credit your site site as the source of the photograph! Its just that simple.

        • diannejacob says

          It depends on the source of the photo. If I took it from elsewhere, it does not make sense to credit me.

  19. says

    As a professional photographer, I get a little testy when my photos aren’t attributed to me in publications, so I can understand and sympathize with the commenter. However, I think it was presumptuous of her to assume you didn’t take those photos yourself or that you didn’t get permission to use their publicity materials. I just don’t see you as the type to go out to the Web and scour web sites and swipe people’s photos without attribution for your own blog. Just my two cents.

    Keep doin’ what you’re doin’. Nuthing wrong with the ways you are obtaining the photos for your blog.

  20. Roze says

    Crediting your own photos is not self-glorification just as putting in a contract that whomever uses your photo is wanting the self-glorification by asking for credit. It is protection that the image is yours and letting others know clearly that they would need to ask permission.

    • diannejacob says

      I would say that a watermark is for self-protection, vs. a photo credit. Putting a photo credit under each of 10 photos in a blog post is redundant.

  21. says

    I don’t think anyone is giving you a hard time about the photos you take yourself (of course those don’t require attribution) or the headshots you use when doing a “celebrity” profile (its obvious those are publicity headshots, and while it would be courteous to credit the photographer, I don’t think it’s absolutely necessary). We’re giving you a hard time about the photos you yourself have admitted to using without permission. I have to agree that I don’t think that’s ok. I am not ok with it when someone uses a photo of mine without permission. It does not even matter if they link back to me- they need to ask permission. If they don’t ask first, then I want it taken down, plain and simple. Stock photos would be different- those are paid for and don’t need to be credited (I never use those I my blog, but that might be an option for you)…

  22. says

    I don’t put credits on pics/graphics on my site because:
    I took them or my hubby or son did.
    I got them from a source that is clearly advertised as offering “public domain,” material.
    I’m using the pic of a product (say a box of tea or bottle of spice or book cover) which I feel is giving the product a plug. If ever asked, I’d remove the image.
    I’m using a pr or publicity shot circulated without any photo credit.

    I’d feel obliged to ask permission to use and to credit any other graphics posted.

    • diannejacob says

      Hah! My husband prefers to receive a photo credit when I post one of his photos on my blog.
      Agree with your other rules, Nancy.

  23. says

    I think she’s being sort of petty – I don’t ever credit any photos on my site, unless they are specifically taken by someone else. Why is she assuming the worst?

  24. says

    I will have to say that after visiting the sites of some of the commenters above, I am almost afraid to read anything else on them besides the terms of use. I fear for my life if I should inadvertently mention a recipe or comment in cordial conversation! Yikes! It’s the Terms of Use police and they are after me! It is rather daunting, and does take the joy of discovery out of finding a new blog or site when you have the heavy hand of the law grabbing you if you send a link to a friend. Back to the cookbooks – it just seems safer.

    • diannejacob says

      Well, you can send a link, Karen, but you can’t take one of their photos and use it on your blog as yours. Not that you would ever do so, of course.

      And the same is true with cookbooks. It’s just harder to scan a photo before stealing it.

  25. says

    Oh wow! If you try to click on my name in my first comment above you go to a suspected phishing site! really, it is just my email address in the wrong box, but now I am certain that the TOU police are after me. My apologies for any crazy comment about the heavy hand of the law!!

  26. says

    I’ve been giving this one a lot of thought. Great comments all around.

    We have several writers on our site, and we draw photos from so many sources – sometimes our own, sometimes each other’s, sometimes from other bloggers (with permission!) or media sites – that it feels necessary to give photo credit, or at least source information, in every post. This just keeps everything completely transparent.

    But I can see how self-crediting for photos would feel weird and cumbersome for a personal blog. Most blogs that I read mention it on an information page, ie “Unless otherwise noted, all images belong to Jane Doe.” That seems great for both making it clear who took the pictures and also protecting yourself against people using your photo without permission. I guess that I DON’T assume that the blogger took the photo if no credit or copyright information is given anywhere on the site. In fact, it makes me inclined to think they lifted the picture without permission from somewhere else.

    I think another part of the confusion here is the difference between photo-crediting with permission verses simply giving source information. For instance, clearly Amazon is not the original photographer/owner for any of their product shots or cover images. But I feel like it’s still important to make it clear where you found that photo, if only so that other people can go there and either buy the product or use the photo themselves. Or to make it clear that you’re not taking credit for the photo, I suppose!

    My two cents…

    • diannejacob says

      Your site is different because it’s not a personal blog written by one writer. So it makes sense that you have to give credit.

      Not a bad idea to put that sentence about who the images belong to into a blog bio. Maybe I should do so.

      I think it’s misleading to credit Amazon with a photo of a tea kettle when they just used the image on the box. If you really want to credit, you’d have to contact the packaging department and get the photographer’s name. Sounds like way too much work.

  27. says

    It never occurred to me to credit my own photos- not because I would feel weird about it but because I always figured that if I don’t say they’re from anyone else people will know they’re mine. I don’t have this issue personally because I never use other people’s photographs, however, my job requires me to know and keep on top of copyright laws for both recipes and photographs accompanying them. Something I see people do a lot is to say a photo or recipe is “courtesy of…” A photo and recipe are NOT courtesy of anyone unless you have requested and received explicit permission to use them. If anyone says “courtesy of…” under a photo they didn’t get explicit permission to use from the photographer then they not only stole the image, they are also lying about it.

    Another thing people do is say they “borrowed” a photograph. There’s no such thing as borrowing a photograph. Blogs and websites are publishing mediums. A lot of bloggers fail to understand what that means. Borrowing something implies that it will be returned to the owner (it also implies permission which has rarely been given when someone says they “borrowed” an image) but when you publish a post using someone else’s image that you didn’t get express permission to use, you have stolen it and have republished it.

    I’m a little annoyed that no one ever steals my pictures. Geeze. Everyone is getting their photos stolen and none of mine ever have been. That I know of. My pictures must be much crappier than I thought!

    • Matt C says

      “I’m a little annoyed that no one ever steals my pictures. Geeze. Everyone is getting their photos stolen and none of mine ever have been. That I know of. My pictures must be much crappier than I thought!”

      Cheer up, I’m sure people are stealing your photos and you just don’t know about it:)
      A photographer friend of mine once discovered a self portrait picture of himself (making an angry face) that he had posted on his blog, printed on the side of a city bus advertisement with the title “Violencia” printed above it. Some sort of Spanish anti-violence PSA.

  28. says

    My husband works in anti-piracy so I tend to err on the side of being very conservative. No photo credit means I took the photo. My blog has a copyright notice on the bottom… and I’m toying with the idea of adding a watermark to my photos.

    If I use any other photos, I get permission and note that they are “Courtesy of” or “Used with permission”.

    If I’m talking about a book cover, I use my Amazon Associates link/photo.

    If I’m using a publicity still of an author or chef, I ask if it needs to be credited. Usually when they have a shot done, they’ve purchased the rights to use that photo. But I then say: Photo courtesy of X.

    Yes, it takes way more time. So if I can shoot my own pix, that works best. Hope this helps!

    • diannejacob says

      Sounds good, Stephanie.

      Thanks for pointing out that most people who use publicity shots have bought the rights to do so, so there’s no reason to credit. You are being extra carefu.

      • diannejacob says

        Thank you Mariko! I took that with my iPhone, amazingly enough.

        I wanted to say which restaurant, but I was just wandering around with my cousin and we ducked into that place. I did not realize I was ever going to use the photo for a blog post. Will have to take more notes from now on.

        • says

          Well, the only reason I might want to know later is so I can go there. But I wasn’t actually serious with the credit comment. ! :)

          Your iphone? What?! Is that kosher?

          • diannejacob says

            I know, but I felt bad that I didn’t have an answer for you. Yes, my iPhone. No, it is not kosher. But sometimes ya gotta break the rules.

  29. says

    Oh, I have agonized over this issue and generally err on the side of caution. I try, whenever possible, to use my own photo’s and if that isn’t possible I use public domain photo’s and credit my source. Even so, there have been many times when I have been so conflicted about what is actually the right thing to do that I just give up and don’t use a picture at all!

    • diannejacob says

      Oh that’s too bad, Amanda, because photos have a lot to do with drawing people into the blog post.

  30. says

    Oh, how circumstances collide: How about when an established publication uses one of your pictures without credit?

    A picture I took of a restaurant in San Diego called R Gang Eatery ( showed up in a San Diego Magazine article published this past Friday ( I can tell it’s my photo because the same guy in glasses looking at the menu on the right end of the picture posted on my blog is the same guy in San Diego Magazine’s photo. And I remember that no one was standing beside me the day I took that photo.

    My blog is copyrighted, so the right of the picture is mine. Yet, there is no credit to me. Neither was there a request for permission to use the photo. You’d think an established print magazine would know better.

    I just discovered this today, so I’m trying to fathom the words to put together in an e-mail to the editors of San Diego Magazine. Any recommendations?

    • diannejacob says

      Oh my, it looks like someone did an image search on the name of the restaurant and your photo came up. Just be straightforward and ask them to take it down, or pay you to use it.

      I suppose you could give them permission to use it, but I wouldn’t.

      • says

        Just wanted to say something like this happened to me recently. Good Housekeeping (India) “stole” a picture from one of my posts and used it in their magazine, after cropping out my credit line. I got back to them, refused to sell them the picture and they finally payed me “damages” for using my photograph without permission.
        They also printed a corrigendum to this effect in a following issue.

  31. says

    Thank you Tiffany! I feel like it’s both an audacious insult as well as a compliment to have one’s images stolen. I wish people wouldn’t do it at all but I can’t help but feel that the day I discover one of mine has been stolen I’ll become insufferably bloated with pride.

    (It is easy for me to make light of my own images being stolen as I’m not making a living off of them, but I fully appreciate how serious this is for photographers and I want everyone to knock the stealing off and just ask permission.)

    • diannejacob says

      I’m sure the people who steal photos are hoping there are more photographers like you who would be flattered.

      • says

        In all truth and seriousness I wouldn’t be flattered. I am never flattered by thievery. The joke is merely that I feel it is saying something about my photography skills that no one has wanted to steal any of my pictures. If I did find anyone had stolen my images even though I don’t make a living from them they are still mine and I would at the very least force whoever used them to remove them from their site.

        Asking permission to use pictures and print that aren’t your own is not very difficult and I think in all those situations where permission has not been openly granted in writing, is the only way to go.

  32. Matt C says

    I make local TV commercials and was just asked by a client to put in photo credits for all of the pictures we are using for their local Theatre Production. I have been making TV commercials for years and never has anyone requested this for the pictures we use. Got me thinking about how silly it all is and if we are going to credit the photographer for snapping the picture then why not also credit the people who are in the photos. While we are at it I should get a credit for editing this thing and our creative director should get a credit as well. At the end of each TV commercial we could roll a long list of credits like they do in the movies.

    • diannejacob says

      Hah! Maybe that is next! When you watch old movies you can see how they didn’t think it was necessary to credit their accountants, drivers and caterers.

  33. Matt C says

    Right or wrong I think a lot of people operate under the philosophy of, It is easier to ask forgiveness than to ask permission. Asking permission to use a picture that comes up in a google image search can sometimes require a bit of detective work to track down the creator. Even if it is super easy to email them it is often days (sometimes weeks) while messages are traded back and fourth until a deal is agreed upon, at which point the photographer will be paying extra close attention to how you use their work and making sure it meets the details of the deal they agreed upon. NO good deed is left unpunished!

    Compare that process to a blogger who copies/steals an image online and re-posts it to their site in a matter of minutes. 99.99% of the time no one is ever the wiser. On the rare occasion you might be called out for it things can usually be settled by removing the image in question.

  34. says

    I’m glad I came upon this conversation. I suppose I am somewhat naive about the stealing of photos from other blogs and sites…I just would never think to do that! It’s the lazy way out and I figure at some point readers may discover that you’ve taken someone else’s image and that could discredit what you are saying altogether! On my blog I either take all the pictures myself or use a free site. Just to be safe, I’ve put a message at the bottom of my page that basically says:
    Photographs and images are from “XYZ Photo Gallery” and personally owned photos unless otherwise noted.

    I do need to figure out how to add my own copyright image to my own photos I suppose but so far I’m still learning how to take good food photos so I doubt anyone will be stealing mine! LOL!

  35. says

    Doesn’t this all come down to “do unto others…” Unfortunately, I’m a writer and not a talented photographer, too. Admittedly, a few times on the fly I’ve picked up a photo from somewhere and not given attribution because it was too much of a pain. BUT I knew it was wrong when I was doing it, and as such, I avoid that practice 98% of the time. I know I’d be livid if someone lifted one of my restaurant reviews verbatim and in my opinion, using other’s photos without permission is the same bad behavior. Just because you probably won’t get sued (or caught) doesn’t make it okay.

    • diannejacob says

      Sounds like a sensible way to behave. None of us is perfect, but we are capable of learning.