Certain features require a modern browser to function.
Please use a different browser, like Firefox, Chrome, or Safari

MLA Photograph Citation

3.5
(159)

Create Citations for Free

←Back to MLA Citation Examples

How to cite a photograph in a bibliography using MLA

The most basic entry for a photograph citation consists of the creator’s name(s), the image title, the creation date, and location details. The MLA 9 citation format varies depending on where you viewed the image.

Begin with the name of the photographer. This person’s name should be reversed, with a comma after the last name and a period after the first name (and any middle name). A suffix, such as a roman numeral or Jr./Sr. should appear after the person’s given name, preceded by a comma.

Photograph viewed firsthand in a museum:

When citing an image viewed in-person in a museum and/or collection, vary the format by including the name of the museum/collection and the city where the museum is located.

Last Name, First Name. Image Title. Creation Date, Museum/Collection Name, Location.

Smith, John. Sunset on the Atlantic. 2000. Museum of Modern Art, New York City.

Personal photograph viewed firsthand:

When citing an image viewed in-person, such as a personal photograph, vary the format by using a description of the image, not a formal title of the image. When describing an image without a title, capitalize the first word of the description as you would in a regular sentence. Omit the location information since it isn’t a famous or published work. You may also include the file format detail (e.g., JPEG, GIF, PNG) in the optional-element slot at the end of the entry.

Last Name, First Name. Description of the image. Creation Date. Digital File Type (optional).

Doe, Jane. My dog enjoying her walk. 3 May 2021. PNG.

Photograph viewed in a print publication:

For a photograph from a publication, conclude the citation with location information for the publication information, or the larger container, housing the photograph. See the Citation Guide entries for these works (e.g., books, magazines, newspapers) for more specific guidelines.

Last Name, First Name. Image Title. Publication Title, Publication Date, page(s).

Smith, John. Sunset on the Atlantic. The New Yorker, 14. Apr. 2015, p. 53.

If there is no creation date available, omit the date.

Smith, John. Sunset on the Atlantic. The New Yorker, p. 53.

Photograph viewed online:

For a photograph viewed online, conclude the citation with the website name in italics and the location (such as a DOI, permalink, or URL). According to MLA’s 9th edition updated in 2021, you may usually leave out http:// or https:// from URLs unless you want to hyperlink them or unless instructed otherwise. When in doubt, ask your instructor. If a DOI is available, use that instead of the URL. For DOIs, use http:// or https:// before the DOI: https://doi.org/xx.xxxx/xxx.xxxx.xxxx. Use a period after the DOI.

If a publication or posting date isn’t available, include the accessed date after the location. Format the date using the international format of day-month-year. Follow the access date with a period. For dates, abbreviate month names, except for May, June, and July (using the first four letters for September and the first three letters for all other months), followed by a period.

Last Name, First Name. Image Title. Publication Date. Publication Title, DOI or URL.

Smith, John. Sunset on the Atlantic. 1 Nov. 2000. CNN, cnn.com/imagearchives/image-sunset-on-atlantic.

or

Last Name, First Name. Image Title. Publication Title, DOI or URL. Accessed Date.

Smith, John. Sunset on the Atlantic. CNN, cnn.com/imagearchives/image-sunset-on-atlantic. Accessed 1 May 2021.

Troubleshooting

Solution #1: How to cite a photograph with no photographer

1. Double check that the photo doesn’t have an organization or group photographer. If this is the case, the photo credit provided for the photo will be the name of an organization.

For example:

World Health Organization. Photograph of three doctors giving the thumbs up sign. “WHO and Partners Call for Action to Better Protect Health and Care Workers from COVID-19,” by Sonali Reddy, 21 Oct. 2021. World Health Organization, www.who.int/news/item/21-10-2021-who-and-partners-call-for-action-to-better-protect-health-and-care-workers-from-covid-19.

However, if no credit is provided for the photo, do not assume that the organization/group that posted it is the photographer.

2. If no photographer or group/organization photographer has been identified for the photo you are trying to cite, you can begin your citation with the title or description of the photo.

For example: 

Photograph of watercolor paint tubes. “18 Essential Watercolour Techniques for Every Artist,” by Brynn Metheney, 21 Sept. 2021. Creative Bloq, www.creativebloq.com/illustration/20-watercolor-techniques-every-artist-should-know-31619705.

Solution #2: How to cite a photograph within a book or article written by a different author

If you are citing a photo within an article or book, and the photographer is someone other than the author of the article or book, you need to make sure you give credit to both individuals in your citation. Follow the templates and examples below to learn how to format a reference list entry for a photograph within a book or article.

Reference list entry template:

Article:

Photographer Surname, First Name. Title or description of photograph. “Title of Article,” by Author First Name Surname, Publication date. Website/Publication Name, URL.

Book:

Photographer Surname, First Name. Title or description of photograph. Book Title, by Author First Name Surname, Publisher Name, Publication Year, Page Number.

Reference list entry example:

Article:

Akmen, Tolga. Photograph of commuters on London underground train. “An Offshoot of the Delta Variant is Rising in the U.K.,” by Sanjay Mishra, 2 Nov. 2021. National Geographic, www.nationalgeographic.com/science/article/an-offshoot-of-the-delta-variant-is-rising-in-the-uk.

Book:

Photograph of the inside of a tokamak. The Atom: A Visual Tour, by Jack Challoner, MIT Press, 2018, p. 163.

Solution #3: How to cite a photograph posted on social media

The format for citing a photograph on social media depends on the site being referenced. Below are templates and examples for citing photos on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

1. Facebook

Reference list entry template:

Account Name/Author Surname, First Name. Photo description. Facebook, Day Month Year posted, URL.

Reference list entry example:

National Park Service. Photo of American Memorial Park. Facebook, 4 Nov. 2021, www.facebook.com/americanmemorialpark/photos/a.368285423296177/3292590387532318.

2. Twitter

Reference list entry template:

Account Name/Author Surname, First Name [@twitterhandle]. Photo description. Twitter, Day Month Year posted, URL.

Reference list entry example:

Musk, Elon [@elonmusk]. Photo of rocket launch pad. Twitter, 12 Sept. 2021, twitter.com/elonmusk/status/1437220114613555202/photo/1.

3. Instagram

Reference list entry template:

Account Name/Author Surname, First Name. Photo description. Instagram, Day Month Year posted, URL.

Reference list entry example:

Green, John [@johngreenwritesbooks]. Photo of A Beautifully Foolish Endeavor cover. Instagram, 7 July 2020, www.instagram.com/p/CCV89ubH-Ho/?utm_medium=copy_link.

←Back to MLA Citation Guide

bibliography entry reference citation help fast quick mla

“Words are a lens to focus one’s mind.”
– Ayn Rand

How useful was this post?

Click on a star to rate it!

We are sorry that this post was not useful for you!

Let us improve this post!

Tell us how we can improve this post?