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MLA Photograph Citation

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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 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.

or

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

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

or

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

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