This is a topic I see coming up time and time again. Whether it’s clients, random people, inspiration accounts, blogs or magazine accounts, from time to time they all re-share images without correctly crediting the source. Sometimes it’s because people don’t understand the etiquette; sometimes it’s people who should know better but are just being lazy!
Whatever the reason, as a photographer who has thousands of images floating around on the internet, this is almost a weekly occurrence. So what is the correct etiquette for sharing other people’s photographs online? As someone who sees this done incorrectly all the time, I thought I’d share a quick guide of how to credit, what is considered the correct credit, and why it’s important to do it right.
Why you need to credit
First of all, the image isn’t yours, nor does it belong to you. As “the creator” of the image, legally the photographer owns the copyright to that image (even if you’re in the image), which means it isn’t actually yours to share. Best case scenario: you’re being inconsiderate. Worst case scenario: you end up in court for copyright infringement.
That image has been carefully created, crafted and planned. Money and time has gone into that image, which you may not have contributed to. This is why it’s classed as copyright ‘theft’.
Don’t try and pass off someone else’s talent as your own work! This is something that is also very common online- businesses reposting images for ‘inspiration’ and ‘aspirational’ purposes. This is fine if credited correctly, but you must clearly state in the caption if it is not your work. Otherwise, this falls under misleading advertisement to potential customers/followers who may book you on the strength of the image, thinking this is something you yourself delivered.
And of course, not just legally, but morally it’s the right thing to do. Someone who ends up looking at that photo on your feed will most likely ‘like’ and could potentially want something from that image. Maybe it’s the floral arrangement, the accessories, the styling, the dress, the hair and makeup artist, the shoes, the ribbons, the candles etc etc… SO many elements can make up that single image, and while it may seem like a small detail to you, there may be someone out there looking for that one specific thing. And crucially, behind each of those elements is a business, and a business owner. However small or large their business may be, this business owner has invested time and money in order to get their products or service out there in front of potential customers, and so not crediting correctly can ruin this chance for them.
In a time where small businesses are working even harder to get seen, it’s even more important than ever to help them out and do your part in promoting them. All it takes is for the right person to see that image, spot a supplier, see what they offer, follow them and invest in them. It may seem like a small credit to you, but to a small business owner it could be a game changer.
Crediting and sharing correctly
A correctly credited image will have the names of every relevant supplier written in the caption. That means crediting everyone who was involved in the creation of that image.
Simply tagging the image with the suppliers is not correct. It should be stated clearly in the caption who the photographer is (this is the bare minimum) and then the names/company names of the rest of the team involved.
Don’t try to disguise the credits in your caption. Make it crystal clear who and what their involvement is
You must not alter, edit or crop the original image in any way- the image should be re-uploaded in its original format, exactly as it has come from the photographer.
Adding your own filters, cropping the image, editing the image to suit your feed/aesthetic is a massive no no! You don’t have the right to do this and it’s so important to remember that an image belongs to the photographer; photographers are extremely precious and protective of their ‘art’. Yes I say ‘art’ because that is what it is for us. We will have captured that image with intention, edited it with time, love and consideration. The photographer will have crafted and composed that image with intention to look a certain way, and editing their image is both disrespectful to their work and potentially damaging to their brand. . It is never acceptable to do this!
Below is an example of how to correctly credit
Benefits of crediting
First of all sharing is caring! The largest benefit of crediting correctly is the network opportunities it creates for everyone involved (even YOU!) through the person/account/business then seeing the credit and consequently re-sharing on their account. This then gets seen by more people, who in turn re-share, and so on and so on. One small extra credit can mean the image reaches literally thousands more people.
You really can make someone’s day/month/year/CAREER if that image finds its way in front of their ideal customer. The amount of times I’ve had clients say ‘Oh I loved so and so in your images and I’ve booked them for my wedding!” “thanks for the recommendation with so and so on your Instagram, I never knew that company existed!” etc etc…Think of the bigger picture! LITERALLY! Pay it forward! Very often I find out who has referred me for a job and I will personally thank them!
The creatives credited in the images are always extremely grateful when you do credit us, it doesn’t take much but actually does mean a lot, not just professionally but personally too.
So next time, you before you hit upload, ask yourself: is it crystal clear that this isn’t your work?
Have you credited the creatives involved correctly? Is it uploaded in its original format?