How to Source (Uncredited) Images, Part 2: How to Find an Image’s Source

Part 1: Image Sharing Etiquette

In part two of our seminar, we’ll be looking at how to find a source with Google Image Search and how to report and help others report stolen images.

Finding the Source

I’m always looking for new food tumblrs to follow, and every time I do, we do the unsourced dance:

Oh, a delightful tumblr, and the first five images have links and sources!
Oh…well, maybe this one is an original post from another tumblr?
:clicks back to “source”:
About Me: “None of these photos belong to me! #yolo”

Ironically, this gif's source is unclear.
Ironically, this gif’s source is unclear, other than that it’s from Brokeback Mountain.

So you found an unsourced image on tumblr or whatever fine purveyor of visual pleasure you prefer. How do you find the original?

Get your sleuthing hats on, readers. It’s time to be an Internet detective.

Source: theoptimisticmask
Source: theoptimisticmask

One day on my dash, I saw this handsome cake and a request for a source.

Finding Unsourced Images | I'll Make It Myself!

The first thing to try on tumblr–and this applies to Pinterest and other photo-sharing sites– is to click over to the post and look for source. On your dash, the source is in the top right corner of a post; if you go to a blog, most themes will have a “reblogged from” and “source” link. Plus, if you reblog properly, you’ll be able to click through to the original and the text below will be added as a caption with a link. Some people will cut the text to have an “all visual” aesthetic, but I believe in crediting the source, so leave the text in!

Finding Unsourced Images 2| I'll Make It Myself!

Here the source blog has been deactivated, and there was no link on the photo to the original.

I downloaded the image to my desktop and dropped it into Google Image Search.

GIS: Pages that include matching images

Finding Unsourced Images3 | I'll Make It Myself!

Finding Unsourced Images 8| I'll Make It Myself!

While you’re looking through the results, look for sources that are not tumblr, Pinterest, WeHeartIt, or Imgur. On page 2 of the image search, I found the original post on Although a couple other blogs posted the image, it was obvious that they were not the OP as they are “visual” blogs that steal images and don’t credit them. A long image-heavy post where the images don’t all seem to be from the blogger or anything that says “this is not mine” in any language is not the source. I could tell Lily was the source was because the blog included the recipe (English version in the comments!) and had the most photos.

GIS: All Sizes

Another route that would lead us to the same conclusion, particularly in cases in which there are many pages of possible leads, is to click on the “all sizes.” If there are a lot of sizes, you might try “large,” as the source probably posted the largest photo. It’s easy to crop and use smaller versions of photos, but it’s harder to make them larger without losing quality.

Finding Unsourced Images3 | I'll Make It Myself!

Finding Unsourced Images 4 | I'll Make It Myself!

There was only one entry for this image, which was surprising. From here,  you’ll want to click “view page,” not “view image.”

Finding Unsourced Images 6 | I'll Make It Myself!

I clicked over and did a quick Ctrl-F search for “cake.” This blog had the source blog linked. However, the poster didn’t link to the specific post (bad form), so I had to hunt the image down. I searched for “cake” and looked for posts around the time of the repost, but there were a lot, so I tried “yoghurt cake,” and the original post was the first hit.

Finding Unsourced Images 7 | I'll Make It Myself!
Too many hits for “cake,” but I found it. “Yoghurt cake” was much quicker.

Sometimes you have to filter through a lot of images this way, but my average source time is 10 minutes.


If an uncredited image has a watermark, it’s even easier to find: either use GIS or type in the name on the watermark and search the blog. Of course, a watermark is not a source or a link, so give credit where it’s due.

Reporting Uncredited Images

I like to then reblog a properly sourced image on tumblr or, better yet,  find the creator’s own social media post on it and share it so that the creator can have proper credit.

Because often only the creator can report stolen images (see below), if I can’t report the image, I privately message the creator to let them know where I found their images so they can request them to be removed.

Finally, I unfollow any blog that consistently reposts uncredited images or reblogs uncredited images from other blogs. You are responsible for checking sources before you click “share.”

Also, this is the most accurate representation of imgur ever.

Links for reporting stolen content:

This is why I’ve started watermarking my images. With these tools at hand, you should be able to find nearly any image. (Gifs and memes may be harder, but there’s no excuse for reposting photography, recipes, art, etc.) Don’t add “source unknown” until you’ve really properly looked.

Class dismissed.

Questions? Suggestions? Leave me a comment!


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