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how to find the original source for every image

how to find the original source for every image

When I teach blogging courses, one of the first things I mention is being able to find original sources for images online. If you are going to post images that someone else has the right to, then it is imperative to make sure you are sourcing the image correctly. Firstly, because it is just good blogging, and the right thing to do. Secondarily, because there could be legal implications if you post someone else’s work without the proper media credits.

Even when pinning, it is important to be sure you are pinning from the original source for the work. As an artist myself, there is nothing worse than opening up Pinterest and seeing a project I designed linked back to someone else’s site.

I assume everyone knows this process, but then every time I teach I get a round of oohs, ahhs, and thanks when sharing my six step process for finding the original source for every image.


Here’s how I do it:

  1. With the image you want to find opened up, open a second browser window and go to google image search.
  2. Click on and drag the image you have opened into the google image search box.
  3. A page will pop open with links to where that image is found. If you are lucky, there will be a front link that is obviously the original source for the photo. Click on it and credit properly.
  4. Often times it won’t be that easy. If I cannot find the original source that way, I click on the “view other sizes” link.
  5. A new page will open with photo links of where the image is found. Usually the largest image is where the original photo is held. Scroll over the top of the images to see the site info. You may have to click through a couple sites before finding the original source.
  6. Once you find it link properly.

* A helpful blogging tip I love is that in step four, there is a link that says, “view similar images”. If you are looking at a photo you love, checking out similar images can open up your eyes to new blogs and resources that go along with your site or Pinterest board aesthetic.

We are working on a new and really exciting *FREE* course launch coming up in early May. Make sure you are on our email list to get access to it and I’ll be sharing more fun business/blogging tips through email over the coming months. Sign up right here…

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(Nail Photo by Spaco Salon).


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  1. Thank you for this! I author a wedding blog and I run into this problem a lot. I want to make sure I give credit, but then I see something cute on Pinterest, want to share it and have no idea how to credit. But now I do!

  2. Wow, this is a great tip! We only use our own photos, but so often I see our photos on Pinterest and Tumblr without attribution (ARGH!)—hopefully some people will read this and decide to give proper credit. :)

  3. Thanks sooooo much for this! I directly pinned it :-D
    I spend a lot of time finding the original sources, but didn’t know you can do this “drag and drop” in the Google search … this will save me so much time!!

  4. Thanks for this info but based on everything I have read about copyright laws linking is not enough. One has to have permission to reproduce the image, is that not correct.?

    Tumblr, Pinterest and Facebook has made this so complicated. Because when you find an image that is popular the process to Reverse find the image is so lengthy.

  5. Will this work for images that are saved onto your computer? I frequently go to this imageboard website and pictures are always used with only a random assortment of numbers as the filename, or even their own filename. The threads die out quickly, resulting in a 404 error code, so I save any image I like on that website before it’s gone. Will it find it if i drag and drop from my picture folder? Thank you.

  6. I just LOVE how Google has all their little-known hacks. Thanks for sharing these. I find a lot of feature blog images using Pinterest, and I always try to credit the original source. Sometimes it takes around 15-20 minutes just to click around to find that with broken links and all.

  7. I like this tip but sadly you can’t use it when you have the photo saved on your phone. I really would enjoy to find a way to find the original source with a photo I already saved.

  8. One caveat: There are people who will take a catchy image and blow up the size, apparently just to get page hits from Google searchers. The image will still look okay on the Google image-search page, where it is shown in a reduced size. When you get to the original, however, you’ll find that the full-size image is pixelated and unusable. Meanwhile, the jerk who published it gets rewarded with one more page hit.

  9. I try this all the time, but the problem is, a lot of pictures come up uncredited on a lot of different sites, and I don’t know how to figure out which one is the original source. yes, sometimes it’s obvious, and sometimes one picture is a lot larger than other files, but a lot of the times there are a whole bunch of different websites using the exact same uncredited image. I wish everyone would just credit properly, but unfortunately, lots don’t. And then there is the problem that Google tends to show you only the sites it thinks you prefer based on earlier searches. So maybe it won’t even show you the original website because Google’s algorithm has somehow decided that the website won’t interest you. To avoid this I tent to mostly use my own pictures and pictures that are free for commercial use. But sometimes that does limit your possibilities.

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