I’m a bit of a source credit nazi. Having had my own work misused and passed around the Internet multiple times without proper acknowledgment, I personally know the disheartening feeling of coming across my work on Pinterest and seeing it unsourced, or even worse, credited to someone else. So I try my best to do unto others as I would have them do to me. Here I’ve compiled a comprehensive guide to finding the source of an image using Google’s reverse image search and how to properly give credit where credit is due.
But first, why is crediting important?
We live in a world now where so much content is generated and shared on the Internet, it’s easy to forget there are hard-working creatives behind the scenes actually making that content. But the reality is, someone out there dedicated time, effort, and who knows what else to create the images we so easily pass around on Pinterest/Tumblr/whatever. Not acknowledging sources puts everyone at a disadvantage – artists don’t get noticed for their work, and viewers don’t get to discover new artists. Overall, it just makes for a bad experience, so let’s try to make the Internet a better place, starting with crediting sources.
How to Find & Properly Credit Image Sources
1. Gather the image address of the photo you want to credit by right clicking > Copy Image Address.
2. Open up Google Images and click the little camera icon in the search bar. Paste the copied image address and Search.
3. Skim through the search results. Now here’s the part where you may need to do some Sherlock-style sleuthing. Sometimes you’ll get lucky and the original source will be right at the top. But since images get passed around so much on popular sites like Pinterest, the original source of a lesser known creator often gets buried under the reposts. (For this reason, some image sources are unfortunately impossible to find through this method.)
✳ Ignore results that come from Pinterest boards – you’ll most likely just end up back at an unsourced image.
✳ Tumblr is notorious for unsourced images, but sometimes the image has been reblogged from the original source or the blogger actually took the time to credit in the caption. So those links are worth checking out.
On page 3, you’ll notice I finally found 2 results that seemed to match (the highlight squares have been added by me for emphasis). The first one was a dead end, but the second result seemed promising. Open those pages up in a new tab.
4. Inspect the results. Often times, the page that includes the image still won’t be the original source, but may include a link to the real artist. In this case, the search led me to a Tumblr reblog and fortunately the original artist was quoted below, so I clicked through to waspandbone‘s Tumblr.
5. Finally! We’ve found the original artist! A personal caption explaining the creation of the piece and a quick look through her other posts with a similar style confirms this is in fact the original artist. Not only is it great that I can give proper credit, but now I can browse some of her other work that might interest me, maybe purchase something from her Etsy shop, or just make a new connection. See how crediting benefits everyone?
6. Go back to wherever you were planning on sharing the image (Pinterest, Tumblr, your blog, moodboard, etc) and give proper credit – name the artist and link to their website.
✳ For some images, click the All Sizes link near the top of the search results. A new page will open listing the image and places where it’s found at varying sizes. Usually the site with the largest size is the original source, so click around through some of the results and follow a similar sleuthing method to find the original.
✳ Using reverse image search and the All Sizes option is also a great way to find larger, better quality versions of an image you want to share.
Now go make the Internet a better place and credit your sources!