Adding photo creds to talk slides

Below are examples of how to credit photographers for images you use in lectures. Also, some reasons why adding credits is especially important if you have impressionable students in the room.

Slide01Slideshows in dimly lit rooms have been putting audiences to sleep since the 1840s, long before Powerpoint, Prezi, and related software perfected the process. And for these shows, there’s been a long tradition of not giving credit to the photographers who made the images. For example, on magic lantern slides and 35mm slides – but the credit usually did appear on the image frame, so at least the speaker knew the origin and details. That’s changed. Now speakers are using images they find on the internet and quickly paste into their shows to interrupt the painful sequences of bullet points and text too small too read. Attribution is rarely given, and the speaker doesn’t know, doesn’t care.

Slide02(The slide above is unattributed, as an example.) So why should attribution be shared with the audience? One way to answer that is to ask the question, why should slideshows be any different than books, articles, and websites? Everyone accepts that photographers should get credit in those mediums (right?). Images on a slide should be attributed just like any quoted text should be cited (and enclosed within quotation marks). Providing image attribution and text citations allows a speaker to humbly acknowledge his/her debt to others. The opposite of this humble and clear acknowledgment is to pretend that copied text and copied images are the speaker’s. Attributions are useful, plus they are really, really easy to add.

Slide03Yes, I know that’s hard to read — that’s sort of the point. The credit is there, but audience not terribly motivated to read it because the font is small and the color is subtle. Audience is supposed to be paying attention to you, not reading all the photo creds. (If you’re boring, of course, they’ll be reading the photo creds.) There are several ways to format your attribution.

Slide04 Note that there are no rules about what information to include in an attribution, but photographer’s name is most important. But if all you have is a URL, use that! Also note that if you hate Powerpoint and Prezi (or are just lazy), Haiku Deck generates image credits automatically … you just search for images from within the program. [The hotlinks don’t work in the above (it’s just an image), so here are the links: Creative Commons image types, roadkill possum.]

Slide05Photographers rarely have clear instructions to teachers regarding photo usage, so it’s always a good idea to ask. When contacting them, always remember to praise them (e.g., “Wow, that possum is really cute!!”). They might even have a better version for you to use. They might say no, but if you’re a teacher, chances are you can use it anyway (because of the “fair use” clause of U.S. Copyright Act).

Slide06 Slide09The problem with vertical text, of course, is that it’s annoying to edit. But it’s perfect if you have photographs and images with 4 x 3 aspect ratio — just format your slides for 16 x 9 presentations, which leaves a big chunk of space on the side for attributions.

Slide10The above might seem silly, but if you have a room full of impressionable students, they will absorb what you did and (perhaps) model your due diligence when they start boring people with their own talks. By the way, I have the Tineye button on my browser and use it all the time: works like a charm. [Here are the links from the above slide: Jeffrey’s Exif viewer, Tineye Reverse Image Search, Google Inside Search.]

Slide11Yeah, I really hate end-of-talk image credits.  This is the main reason I created this whole page … I’m trying to stamp out this practice. Yes, I know it’s futile.

Slide12URLs from above:,,

image-attribution-in-powerpointIf you want an example of #3, this: perhaps you took a photograph and somebody in audience wants to know how tall an object was.  Given your position and eye height when you took photograph, might be possible to estimate — so make it easy for them to contact you.

Slide13This is the part that many teachers choose to ignore. Especially teachers that are trying to make a name for themselves as Free Range, Open Source MOOC gurus.  They think that because they are hip and work at an educational institution, they have a blanket waiver to use other people’s images and then post the slides to and such for the whole world to download and reuse.  They probably know that sharing such files online is illegal (if they’ve used copyrighted images without first purchasing them), but they think it’s still OK … just like kids think it’s OK to share song files as long as they don’t get caught.  But aside from the legal issues, publishing copyrighted photographs and illustrations on the internet is simply unkind to the photographers and illustrators on this planet — it reduces their ability to make a living, plus removes the control that an artist might want for an image.  E.g., she might want a particular photograph to appear only in the context of a larger body of photographs.

Slide14Links: The Educator’s Guide to Copyright, Fair Use, and Creative Commons, Code of Best Practices in Fair Use for OpenCourseWare, Washington State University Fair Use Guidelines,UCLA Drops Copyrighted Videos From Course Web Sites After Legal Threat,The TEACH Act. Also, this is great: Cite and Attribute Your Sources.

Slide15Plea: there are a lot of teachers out there who didn’t get the memo about image credits.  If you can share this page somehow, I’d be grateful.

If you are really bored, here are my some of my posts on the evils of Powerpoint.  And here are my other tip pages.

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