Saturday, 19 March 2011

important topic: photo credit

Finally a discussion in blog world about giving credit!

Yesterday I found this wonderful poster on Pia Jane Bijkerk's blog, created by her and Erin Loechner from design for mankind, with Yvette van Boven's handmade fonts. This discussion made me really happy because often I've been a bit puzzled about the different methods of bloggers when citing sources of images. 

Sometimes I have spent hours trying to identify the source of an image. The search has maybe taken me from Pinterest to a page on e.g. Tumblr or We Heart It, where I find myself tracing the image through a jungle of pages. Usually I find myself in a cul-de-sac. Sometimes I have decided to use the image anyway because I really like it and either I identify the source as 'unknown' or I write where I found it. 

Writing 'unknown source' has so far helped me identify the source of three images because some of my readers were so kind to tip me in an email. And sometimes I've accidentally found the source later when browsing the internet. I keep track of all my 'unknown source' posts and of course I update those posts immediately and state the source once I've found it. So right now I haven't decided whether I'll continue using my method or stop posting those images. In her post, Erin talks about what she calls a SOS system and I like that; I agree with everything she says.

If I find the original source and on their page it clearly states that you need their permission to use their photographs I simply send them an email and ask for their permission. I've always gotten a prompt reply and none of them has refused my request.

I'll probably insult some of my blog friends when I say this (please don't take it too personally): I don't like the method where people link the words 'via', 'here' or '1,2,3...' and when clicking those links you end up on a blog that takes you through endless blogs or Tumblr pages. I want to see the name of the source clearly written under the images and that is the method I use myself, be it the original one or the page where my search came to an end. And one more thing in case you're a Pinterest user: When pinning images, please open the actual post with the image before pinning, if possible. I can't stand it when a pin takes me to a blog where I have to search endlessly for that particular image.

Pia and Erin say that people are welcome to post their poster (and please remember to cite them as sources!) so it'll be fun to see where this discussion leads us. I'm pretty sure that this poster will continue raising awareness about copyrighted material and something tells me that we'll see more professional work among bloggers now that this topic is on the surface. The poster has already inspired me to change my methods and I even updated some posts yesterday; we can all strive to be better bloggers.

I don't believe we'll see an increase in legal actions; I'm pretty sure bloggers, photographers, designers, artists, stylists, etc. can find a common ground which makes everyone happy. The reason I post images from others is that the images or what they represent touch something inside of me and I want to honour the talented person who did that. If a blogger did the same with an image of my own I'm pretty sure I'd be very happy, as long as the source was clearly cited. However, if a blogger posts my own images without citing the source I won't threat legal action, but that person will receive an email from me.

PS. Update: I decided to add a list of all the posts I've seen so far on this issue:

Grace at Design*Sponge: part 1, part 2, part 3 
Amanda at Mocking Bird
Chelsea at {frolic}: part 1, part 2 
Nicole at Little Brown Pen


  1. Thank you for this post, Lisa. It's a good thing to raise awareness on crediting the right people for the images we use on our blogs. I must confess I sometimes haven't looked up thoroughly the original source just because when I saw an image I loved I clicked on it and it got me to a blog, website which just did not cite the source. Maybe I shouldn't have used it at all. I will certainly be more careful from now on, because I trully appreciate other people's work. Ada

  2. Hot topic!

    First of all: LOVE watermarks. Makes it really easy to find the source of an image I want to use. Wish all artists would use it :)

    Second: I too use source 'unknown' or 'weheartit' (which is the same thing in most cases). Why? Because I want to post this lovely image that I found but looking for the source in 9/10 times sends me on a ghost hunt all around the web and with 10+ links to visit which most of the time just ends up on a blog or a tumblr with no further link. Great! Time well spent...

    Third: I think the most important thing is to not try to claim ownership for something that is not yours! Source 'unknown' is still better than no source at all in my opinion cause then people at least don't think that you took the picture yourself!

    Fourth: Yay for pinterest! I find it much easier to find / keep track of the original source of the images I find there than on any of the other places I use :)

    Last: I also keep a 'disclaimer' on my blog informing that not all images are mine and if an artist should find one that is not properly credited I will be happy to do so or remove it altogether. And I think a lot of people are like me: I don't want to steal anything but the effort of tracking down the source of something online is just HUGE and in most cases you end up with nothing anyway…

    That’s my 5 cents :)
    Hugs and a great Sunday to you Lisa dear!

  3. Good points Signe.

    When I open a link to a photo and find myself on Tumblr or We Heart It my mind simple goes: 'OH BOY! This will take forever'! haha But some people who use these sites actually have the actual source, they just don't write it clearly so maybe one has to click on the image itself to find it. But man oh man, the hours I've spent on these sites tracing a source!

    I've been very happy with Pinterest but lately I've been noticing an increase in links to pages like Tumblr, which usually means that the source can't be found.

    I think that every blogger who wants to be taken seriously has come up with some kind of system of how to credit sources. But I always find it a bit strange when people post images without any info on the source, esp. people who sell ads on their blogs. And don't get me started with those who maybe decorate images which they don't own. To me that's just plain plagiarism.

    Great Sunday to you too ;-)

  4. Oh, Lisa, I am guilty of the "via." I just find it close to impossible to track down some images. xo

  5. I feel a bit guilty too. I usually credit and link all my photos, but on the latest post I did not track them down.. I will do a work of consience an update with credits to night :)

    Doing Good on you post!

  6. A very good post and an important topic. I HATE it when people nick my creations and post as their own. It's just not fair. So, thank you for picking this up :)

  7. Lisa,

    Thanks so much for this post. I am a relatively new blogger and when starting out I looked for guidelines on how to post/credit images but found little information. This guide is perfect and I will definetely improve my posts going forward. Thanks for the education.


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