So many of you publish inspiration posts on your blogs, which are comprised of images that don’t belong to you. As artists, we are even more responsible for crediting the people who made an image because we are so very aware of how much work goes into it and how much of a problem it can cause when one person decides to publish your work without your name attached.
Before I show you how to find the original source… I do want to say that I always espouse linking with love. And it can be very difficult to accomplish with so many people putting beautiful images they don’t own out into the world through websites like Pinterest, Tumblr, WeHeartIt, Fffound, etc. without crediting the artist.
Speaking of, I think it’s really important to try to credit the original source even when you’re on one of these image-collecting sites. Don’t just republish content willy-nilly. Assume the person you found it from has not taken the trouble to find the artist and take the burden on yourself. It takes another five minutes or so to find the source, but ultimately you’re doing the right thing in the world. You can’t expect others to credit photographs of your art unless you are crediting others’ work. The change has to start somewhere and you’re going to be where it starts.
I’ll also admit here that I pin like crazy and usually forget to look up an original source, especially if I’m mobile because it’s so difficult to change the info from my cell phone. But when you repin something, you really should be clicking the edit button and making sure the link goes straight to the original place the image was put on the web – usually a blog or an artist’s website.
But there are a couple really simple ways to try to track down an image’s owner so you can properly credit them (or even ask permission while you’re at it to completely ensure you are doing the artist no harm in republishing their work). My favorite is using Google. You already use it anyway, so it’s easy to get to and to navigate. Here’s the step-by-step.
3. Open Google in another window.
4. Click over to the Images tab of Google’s search engine.
5. Drag the image from its own window into the search bar of the Google Images window. (you’ll see a little green + circle appear where you drag the image, which you can’t see on my screenshot above)
6. Your results will appear on Google. You should scroll through and ignore sites like the ones I mentioned above because those are unlikely to lead you to the real source. Instead look for full-fledged blogs (not Tumblr blogs), Flickr pages, and other websites that are not image-aggregators. Open each one until you find the original source.
7. You’ll know you’ve found your original source if certain indicators are present. In this case, it clearly says on the bottom right that she took the photo in February of 2012. In other cases, you might be on an artist’s website where they are featuring all their own work. You may see a copyright notice. Or it may be a blog where the post mentions the action of taking the photos or says something like, “this was on my walk yesterday” or “I had a lovely time at the conference. This is a pic of some of the fellow attendees all excited to meet each other.” Those are indications that this person took the image or owns the image in another capacity.
8. Credit the artist! Under or next to your image, you should clearly express the owner of the image and provide a link for readers to discover the artist. This can be tailored to your preferences, but make sure it ALWAYS includes the artist’s name and a link to their website or social media account. If possible, ask permission first. Almost always, they’ll give an emphatic yes and you’ll have really made them feel awesome. Plus, you won’t be nervous that they’ll stumble upon the image on your blog and send you a scary letter from their lawyer. You don’t want to get caught up in that mess.
(9.) Bonus tip – what to do if you can’t find the original source? You have options. But the best one to take is to just forget about that picture. There are others. This one might feel glorious and really touch you, but it’s probably not worth a Cease and Desist letter or worse – a large fine. Move on and find another image.