Image Credits

People like to get paid. And if you can’t get paid, it’s at least nice to receive credit. That’s how much of the photography world works. Photographers sometimes give pictures away for free to build a presence online. Then, they start charging money for the truly great shots. But what if you, a blogger or business owner, want to grab one of those free photos for your own post or promotional materials. Is it legal? Do you need to add image credits?

Well, it totally depends on the license. But either way, learning how to write image credits in WordPress is good for giving credit to photographers, staying on the right side of copyright law, and sometimes both at the same time.

We are not lawyers and nothing in this post should be interpreted as real legal advice. When in doubt, speak to a lawyer.

Photo by Henning Borgersen on Unsplash

Why is it so important to have image credits on your website?

While there a lot of paid stock photo sites, many webmasters on a budget prefer using free stock photo sites instead.

The social world has generated a communal photography sector where picture takers can help their own brands by sharing photos for free. Because of this, the free photo market has exploded into some incredible collections.

But all that work put in by the photographer is without reward without image credits.


Maybe someone sees that cool photo of the leopard up there and decides to look at the photographer’s portfolio. What if they like more of his photos and decide they would like to hire him for paid work?

So ignoring the legal aspect, it’s still just respectful to credit someone’s work.

However, there also is that legal issue, and some free stock photo sites actually require that you credit the photographer if you want to use their image (you’ll need to check the license of the site where you find your image).

For example, on our own MyStockPhotos site, we do not require attribution (AKA an image credit), but many other free stock photo sites do.

The best places to find photos that might allow for sharing

Our guide to the best free stock photo sites is a great place to begin when seeking out images you can actually use.


Some of the mentions include the following:

  • – Higher quality free images.
  • Canva – Free digital artwork.
  • Burst – Free photos from Shopify–great for eCommerce and commercial use.
  • Skitterphoto – A nice collection of public domain photos.
  • MyStockPhotos – A really small free library with stunning photos.

Also, here are some free stock sites that I have in my own bookmark bar:

  • Flickr – One of the largest communities for professional and amateur photographers to share and chat about their photos.
  • Visual Hunt – Essentially a search engine for free images.
  • Unsplash – A community with the most beautiful free images you can find online.
  • Pexels – Free photos and videos.
  • Vecteezy – Many free vector files.
  • The Noun Project – Free icons for your visuals.

These free websites are great, but there are crucial reasons we’re showing you all of them

And what are those reasons?

1. All free photo websites have different rules

Flickr has more than complicated rules that depend entirely on the Creative Commons license of the photo:


Visual Hunt has a simpler format and provides the links:

green door

Photo on – modified

Unsplash asks nicely for image credits but doesn’t require them:

woman walking

Confusing, right?

1(a). Tips on following rules and formatting

Now that you know how drastically different the rules can be, it’s time to think about how you’re going to format all of the pictures you put in blog posts. After all, writing a post takes long enough as it is. Now you have to know the rules for every free stock photo site?

Here are some tips:

  • Stick to just a few free picture sites that you like the most. For instance, I go to Flickr for professional-level photography, but Unsplash and Visual Hunt suffice and they’re much easier to find photos you can use.
  • Always know where to look for the rules. Many of the sites have things presented nicely for you. Take Visual Hunt. The dog picture can be used for commercial use, and modifications are OK. You’ll find a bit of code that you can copy and paste right below your post. Stick to that formatting and you’ll be fine.

dog picture

Photo on – modified

  • Always place the image credits below the photograph. Not only is this respectful to the photographer (instead of hiding the credit at the end of your post,) but some stock photo sites require this placement. You might even consider centering the image credits.
  • Figure out a nice, clean, smaller format that works for your own personal style. For example, I make image credits with simple words in the text of the post. Or, you could also use WordPress’ built-in caption functionality for your image credits.

Here’s an example of the caption approach:

bridge picture with image credits

Photo on Visual Hunt

It doesn’t look that different in the caption, but I had to copy and paste code into the image caption field. The code is provided by Visual Hunt, but other stock sites aren’t as accommodating.

Adding the image credits as a caption

2. Just because the internet says something doesn’t mean it’s true

Here’s one of the most important rules to remember about using photos.

People steal.

But if you have a serious blog or online business, that person is not going to be you.

It seems like half of the images on Google are reposted without permission.

Although to a lesser extent, you’ll still find illegal photos on places like Flickr, VisualHunt, and Unsplash. The main problem is that you’ll never really know if the uploader took the photo from the real photographer or if it’s legitimate.

An example that is easier to identify is when trademarks are used.

Go to VisualHunt and type in Nike.

There are dozens of apparel pictures with the famous swoosh logo. I would bet anyone that Nike didn’t approve any of those pictures. It’s Nike’s property, so no one can use it without approval.

This is a tough point, since there’s no solution for you.

Simply use common sense and avoid pictures with things like people’s faces (models who may have not given approval,) and trademarks.

3. Sometimes giving attribution doesn’t bode well for your project

Let’s say you want to write an eBook for your bird watching blog. You’re a pretty good photographer so you can fill up the book with shots. However, you want to make the cover stand out with an image from a true professional.

So, you take a look on Flickr and find this stunning bald eagle shot. You look to the bottom and notice it says “Some Rights Reserved”.

This eagle picture requires image credits

Photo: Andy Morffew, Some rights reserved, Just Sitting!, flickr – modified

Nice! So that means you can use the photo right?

Not exactly.

Flickr actually requests that credit is given right below the photograph. Links are needed as well. So, unless you plan on putting a credit right on the eBook cover (when was the last time you saw that?) you’re out of luck.

The same can be said for slider images on your homepage where it would look silly to have a credit (or maybe there’s no way to credit in your slider).

Unfortunately, sometimes crediting a photographer gets in the way of your own project, so you’re far better off supporting that photographer and paying for the rights–or looking for a different photo.

But in this case–in a blog post–a credit like this is all Mr. Morffew is asking for:

We added credits to this image of an eagle

Photo: Andy Morffew, Some rights reserved, Just Sitting!, flickr

If all else fails…

Reach out to the photographer to ask if you can use their photo. Or better yet, take your own pictures!

If you have any questions about creating image credits in WordPress, drop a line below.

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