How to Cite a Photograph in APA Format
When you're writing a research paper using American Psychological Association (APA) citation format, you may find that you want to reference a photograph. Although the basic information contained in your citation will be the same, the format differs slightly depending on whether you found that photograph online or in print.
Citing an Online Image
Gather as much information as possible.When you need to cite a photograph you found online, it may be difficult to find enough information about the photo to create a full citation. You may have to do some additional research to find out more about the photograph.
- Where possible, try to find the original source of the photograph, especially if it was reproduced on another website. If the website doesn't link to the original source, do an image search across the internet to locate the original.
- You may be able to find additional information about a photograph by right-clicking on it.
Start with the photographer's name.An APA citation typically starts with the name of the author. Since the author of a photograph is the photographer, list their name with their last name first, followed by their first and middle initials.
- For example: "Smith, J."
- If you are unable to find the name of the photographer, skip this portion of the citation and move on to the next.
List the year the photograph was published or created.Immediately after the name of the photographer, include only the year the photograph was created in parentheses. If you can't find the year of creation, go with the year the photograph was first published online.
- For example: "Smith, J. (2010)."
Provide the title and format of the photograph.If the photograph has a title, provide that title immediately after the date. Use sentence-style capitalization, capitalizing only the first word of the title and any proper nouns. Then include the phrase "Online photograph" in square brackets.
- For example: "Smith, J. (2010). Frogs croaking at dusk [Online photograph]."
- If the photograph is untitled, provide a brief description of the photograph in square brackets, beginning with the format. For example: "Smith, J. (2010). [Untitled online photograph of croaking frogs]."
Include a direct link to the photograph.Start a sentence "Retrieved" and list the date you accessed the photograph. Close your citation with a copy of the URL where the photograph appears. Since online contents can shift, look for a permalink or direct address to use if you can.
- For example: "Smith, J. (2010). Frogs croaking at dusk [Online photograph]. Retrieved October 12, 2019 from http://www.sleepinganimals/pix.com"
Citing a Photograph in a Book
Reference the work in which the photograph appears.If you find a photograph in a book that you want to mention in your research paper, provide a citation to the book as a whole, rather than the photograph specifically.
- Follow the APA citation method for the type of print publication where the photograph appears. For a book, you'd use the basic citation for a book. If you found the photograph in a magazine or journal, you'd use the appropriate citation format for that medium.
Provide additional details in your text.When you discuss the photograph in your paper, you can include anything else you consider necessary that wouldn't have been included in the basic reference for the book where the photograph appears.
- For example, if the photographer is important, you might mention their name: "The photographs of Ansel Adams give viewers a better understanding of how the western United States looked before modern development."
- You may also want to include any information about the photograph that differs significantly from the publication information about the book itself. For example, you may find a photograph you want to reference that was taken in 1924, but the book where the photograph appears was published in 2015. Include the photograph's date in your text.
Include the page number in in-text citations.When you cite a photograph in text, your parenthetical citation references the book's author and the year the book was published. Treat a photograph like a direct quote and include a page number.
- For example, an Ansel Adams photograph in a 2015 book by Paul Smith might have the in-text parenthetical citation "(Smith, 2015, p. 24)."
Referencing a Physical Print
State the photographer's name.As the "author" of the photograph, list the photographer's last name, then place a comma and provide their first and middle initials. If the photographer isn't identified, start with the title.
Provide the year the photograph was published or created.For a physical print installation, you typically will find the year the photograph was created on the card next to the display of the print. It may be an estimated year.
- Place the year in parentheses after the photographer's name. For example: "Smith, J. (2010)."
- If the year is unknown, use the abbreviation "n.d." in place of the date. For example: "Smith, J. (n.d.)."
Give the title and medium of the photograph.If the photograph doesn't have a title, provide a brief description of the photograph in square brackets. Otherwise, provide the title of the photograph in italics using sentence-style capitalization, followed by the word "Photograph" in square brackets.
- For example: "Smith, J. (2010).Frogs croaking at dusk[Photograph]."
Include the location of the photograph.Since you've actually looked at a physical print of the photograph, you need to direct your readers to the place where that print is located. Include the geographic location along with the name of the institution or museum. For U.S. locations, provide the city and state. Internationally, include the name of the city and the name of the country.
- For example: "Smith, J. (2010).Frogs croaking at dusk[Photograph]. New York, NY: Museum of Modern Art."
- If you're referencing an original photograph that you took yourself, there's no need to provide a citation. Any content in your paper not cited is assumed to have come from you.
- Apart from simply referencing a photograph, you may want to reproduce the photograph in your paper. Doing this typically requires a caption with copyright information and a statement that you used the photograph with permission of the photographer or copyright holder. Talk to your teacher or project supervisor if you want to include copied photographs in your paper.
- If you're writing a parenthetical in-text citation for a photograph and the name of the photographer is unavailable, include a keyword from the title (or your description) in quotation marks. Two or three words should be enough to enable your reader to quickly find the full citation in your reference list. Then include the year of publication.
Video: Referencing Online Images in APA Style (6th ed.).
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