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The ABCs of Photo Credit Etiquette

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By Melanie Yunk | August 22, 2016

With millions of gorgeous images flooding the internet daily, some may be tempted to use another’s photo without attributing proper photo credit. Using or sharing images without giving an obvious nod to the image creator may seem innocuous, or perhaps, may even be intended as a compliment. However, this practice proves very upsetting and - in some cases - harmful to a person or business who creates the image used without permission or attribution. To keep out of the image sharing dog house, which could include legal ramifications, let’s talk about the ABC’s of photo credit etiquette.

A: Ask for Permission

Before reposting, regramming, borrowing or pinning, be certain the creator of the image allows use of the image by others. In some cases, image creators or sites where images are found provide specific parameters around using the visual content and guidelines for photo credits. If such guidelines don’t exist, ask if you can use the image before assuming you may use it. Creatives live and die by their work; don’t presume they can afford to let any old Jane or Joey employ their work freely.

B: Be Honest

Ever remember a coworker or boss taking credit for your great ideas or work? Using someone else’s photos or images without properly acknowledging the creator ranks right up there with your boss presenting your strategy slides and not even mentioning your name. Stinky, right? Be honest with your posts and use of images. If you didn’t take the photo, or create the graphic or think up the funny caption, please be honest with your readers or viewers. Give credit where credit is due. Trust us; your followers will appreciate the honesty far more than they appreciate a perfectly curated site that doesn’t truly belong to you.

C: Credit with Clarity

Now that we’ve established the importance of asking for permission and being honest about the origin of images, let’s talk about how to credit with clarity. There are many ways one may indicate the genesis of a graphic, but crystal clear visibility of the photo credit remains the most important rule. Attribution in a somewhat buried comment on a post, or a the very end of the hashtags, seems either totally clueless or - sadly - downright devious.

Some guidelines to consider for photo credits done right:

Of course, we also recommend one should also post their own creations with clear indication of ownership. When spending precious time and resources to create the perfect graphic or image, considering adding your URL or watermark in such a place that shows the photo credit but doesn’t distort the image. By adding your mark, you will save yourself the frustration of unwitting - or otherwise - image thieves.

Have you ever had your images used without your permission? Has anyone posted a picture you took without giving you proper photo credit? Have you accidentally used someone else’s work without the correct attribution? We’d love to hear your perspective.

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