How to Find Image Sources For Proper Attribution or Research

There’s no shortage of amazing images online, but that doesn’t mean you will always find the original. So many of the images that you find on blogs and other websites are from another place. While it doesn’t seem like a big deal, it is seriously worth knowing how to find the original.

This is how you can find an image source quickly and easily.

Why it is important to find image sources

Knowing how to find the right image sources online is always handy. Not only will it make your life easier when it comes to finding high quality photos. It could also help you avoid legal problems.

You have seen a picture and want to find it again

Is there anything more annoying than seeing a cool picture online, saving it to your desktop, and then forgetting where you even found it? Worse, you will then have to waste hours searching your browsing history to find it.

All of this wasted time and effort can be avoided if you know how to find image sources quickly.

You want to use an image in your blog post and associate it correctly

Images are crucial when writing blog posts. Research has shown that articles with photos get 94 percent more views than articles without photos. That’s because nothing scares readers more than huge blocks of text. Images help break up writing, make points clear, and improve the reading experience.

However, you can’t just use every old photo that you find on your blog on the internet. You need to make sure that you are allowed to use it legally and that you can properly associate it. For both tasks, you need to find the original image source.

Once you find the source of the image, you can find out if you can use the image (I’ll help you with this if you are still not sure) and you can map it correctly if you need to.

While it is very rare for small websites to run into legal trouble if they use copyrighted images or fail to adhere to Creative Commons, it is better to play it safe.

You need a high quality version of an image

Low resolution images suck. They look bad on your blog, and they look even worse when you scale them for printed marketing collateral – but pixelated images are exactly what you get if you can’t find the original image source.

Why? As newly published images are typically scaled down to reduce file size and increase website load times. This is great for the website in question, but not great for you. The original image, on the other hand, is usually much larger. Whether you want to use an image in marketing material or edit it yourself, it pays to find the source.

5 ways to find image sources

Finding an image source is not difficult. Here are five different ways you can find an image source today.

1. Use Google image search to find image sources

Google Images Search is de facto where you can find images online. I probably don’t have to tell you. However, I may need to explain to you how to use Google Images to find the source of an image.

Ways to find an image source - Google image search

You can easily do this with reverse image search. Go to, but instead of entering a keyword, upload your image. Google will display a link to every page on the web with this image on it, and finding the original shouldn’t be too difficult.

You can even use Google’s Reverse Image Search on your iPhone by requesting the desktop version of the website in Safari.

2. Use other reverse image tools to find image sources

Have you ever found a picture on Twitter or Facebook and wondered where to find the original picture? While it sounds like a big challenge, reverse image search tools make finding original sources a lot easier with just the image than you think.

All you have to do is upload or copy the image and paste it into the tool. The search engine will find every instance of this image online. In most cases it is not difficult to find the original image.

There are many reverse image search tools out there, but here are some of my favorites.


TinEye is a great inverted image search tool that allows you to find an image source in seconds. You can search by uploading a url if you have one or the image itself.

You can also use TinEye’s Chrome extension to right-click an image while browsing for instant access to the platform’s data.

Search by image

Search By Image is an Android app that allows you to undo the search for images in Google TinEye or Yandex. Search by uploading pictures from your phone or opening pictures from Facebook, Twitter and other apps.

3. Search the image metadata for image sources

You can find a surprising amount of information about an image in the file’s metadata. Sometimes it even includes the source of the image.

You don’t have to be a technical expert either. First, download an image. In this example, I am downloading this image from the Good Housekeeping website.

Ways to Find an Image Source - Look up the image metadata

On a Mac, you can find the image’s metadata by simply right-clicking the image and selecting “Get Info.” You get a ton of data that probably doesn’t make a lot of sense, but you can clearly see the source of the image.

Find image source - search for metadata

In Windows, just right-click the image and choose Properties.

4. Use the Chrome browser to find image sources

If you’re using Chrome, you don’t have to visit Google Images to do a reverse image search. Instead, if you find one you want to find, right-click the image and click “Search Google For Image.”

As usual, you will be shown the full search results for reversed images.

5. Use Bing’s visual search to find image sources

Bing has its own image search feature called Visual Search, which makes reverse image searches a breeze.

You can drag your saved picture into the search bar or upload it. Bing will display every place it can be found online. You also get a fairly detailed look at the attributes of the image and any text Bing can find in the image.

How do you correctly assign image sources?

How you match pictures depends on the type of picture and where you found it. Most websites know very well what to do when mapping, but understanding the following terminology can be helpful.

Creative Commons images

This nonprofit enables the use and distribution of images and other creative materials under a number of licenses. Some do not require mapping at all, others allow editing of images, others are incredibly strict.

Attribution is a legal requirement for a Creative Commons image, unless the image is published under a Creative Commons Zero (CC0) license. The Creative Commons clearly defines what is classified as “adequate credit” using the TASL method. You need to provide the following details:

Here’s an example from Creative Commons showing exactly what they mean.

Find image sources - how to assign an image example

“Creative Commons 10th Birthday Celebration San Francisco” by tvol is licensed under CC BY 2.0.

Whenever you change a Creative Commons image, you must incorporate the changes into the association.

Public Domain Images

If work is listed in the public domain, its copyrights have expired. It’s free to use, share, and edit. You don’t have to associate the image at all or ever reference the original source.

Royalty-free images

Royalty-free images are usually not free. You have to pay a fee to use the image once, but then you can reuse it as often as you like without paying royalties. That means the royalty-free part.

Royalty-free images usually do not have to be assigned. However, be sure to check the license agreements on the website you downloaded them from. There may also be other restrictions, e.g. B. non-use for a specific purpose or in a specific niche.

5 websites to find great pictures

The cost of paying for images every time they are used adds up quickly for small businesses. It’s just not a sustainable practice. However, that doesn’t mean you have to go without pictures.

There are many places online where you can find high quality, royalty-free images. Here are some of my favorites.


Find image sources - Unsplash

Unsplash is probably the best stock photo platform in the world. You can use the images in almost any way you want for free.


Find image sources - Pexels

Pexels is another great free photo platform like Unsplash. It has its own license that regulates what you can and cannot do with photos.


Find image sources - burst

Burst is Shopify’s photo platform. You can download photos for free without being a Shopify customer.


Find image sources - Flickr

Flickr is a fantastic image repository where you can find thousands of images that you can use for commercial purposes for free.


Find image sources - Canva

You might have used Canva to make a new logo or poster, but did you know it also has hundreds of free stock images that you can use too? You don’t even have to edit them to download them.


Finding an image source can be a lot of work, but it can be worth finding a good quality image or keeping your website safe from legal troubles. Use any of the five strategies listed above and you are sure to find the original source for just about any image you can find online.

Once you’ve found your picture, make sure to make the most of it on your blog or use the best editing tools if you want to make the picture even better.

Where do you find your favorite pictures?

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