Saturday, October 03, 2009

How to cite photographs/images from Flickr in APA

Figure 1. I am a Golden God. (2006), by Piero Sierra, 2007, Retrieved from Made available under Creative Commons Licence.
MyBloglog told me that someone visited this blog from a Google Search: referencing photographs in apa style

For some reason google pointed to my 'citing vimeo' post. That post doesn't answer the question but I hope this one will, sort of. The search also reminded me of a question I've had in mind for a while: If I used an image/photograph from Flickr in an academic paper, how would I cite and reference it?
Google provided links to university and college citation guidance resources, which raises a point people need to remember... that while APA might be the style guidelines required, institutions and publications frequently amend the guidelines according to their own preferences and thus the institution/publication requirements need to be checked First. Some of the online guidelines looked good to me, although they are not consistent with what I've read in the Publications Manuals of the American Psychological Association 5th or 6th editions (APA, 2001, pgs 198, 175); (APA, 2010, pgs 151, 166, 38). However the examples in both editions don't really address online sources.

  1. If the photograph (or a portion of it) is included in the paper then it is a Figure and will be consecutively numbered with other figures and the source (photographer and, if different, copyright holder) will be credited with permission after your Figure's caption (APA, 2010, p.166).
    • as for example the above image, which is a pleasant reminder of my strolling meditation in Bendigo while Mr. 16 was bowling in the recent Country Cup.
  2. Could it be possible that your paper might refer to (cite) an image, perhaps making some point evidenced by the image without actually including the image in the paper?
    ... then I would guess that it might be treated like a text data/information source.
    • I can't think of an example (please readers send me one) of a truly valid academic reference to a photograph that would not itself be included in the paper... so let's pretend I am rephrasing or referring to a point made by a rather lovely image of a rainbow over SMB (moonflowerdragon, 2008) <-- citation.="" in-text="" li="">
    • in this case the bibliographic or reference list entry could be:
      moonflowerdragon. (2008). Rainbow over SMB, [online image]. Retrieved October 5, 2009, from
An interesting feature of Flickr (and possibly other online photo storage services) is that when images are uploaded from a digital camera, data about the photo is also uploaded - including the date it was taken. So: if the precise date of the image was relevant it could be included in the caption.

The Flickr screen name of the photographer of the above photo appears to be a real name, were that not the case I would check the user's profile page and its url to check for a real name, but when no real name is available we use the given screen name. Or if you have Zotero with Firefox, and you capture the citation by clicking the photo icon in the address bar, then Zotero will grab the artist's name for you. Zotero does not include [online image] in its APA style for images.

Examples of citations of photographs (eg: online database, books, journals, websites) in APA style are given by Calpoly. However you may note that Calpoly appear to prefer that the full citation of source would be given in the bibliography rather than the Caption Note of the image.

Update: 12 Jan 2015 While I have closed comments to cut-off the spam, I still want to help puzzle through the query that led you here, so if this post is not enough, you're welcome to ask me through my new blog.


American Psychological Association. (2001). Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association, (5th ed.). Washington, DC: American Psychological Association.
American Psychological Association. (2010). Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association, (6th ed.). Washington, DC: American Psychological Association.


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