In my thesis I have several photographs, which have captions in the form of

Photograph of building X, taken on date by the author of this thesis

Citations to referenced papers follow the [1] (BibTeX plain) format. My supervisor suggested to cite my own photos by using the following caption format:

Building X (my name, year)

This however follows a different reference style (APA style) and may be confused with a reference to a paper. What are the recommended styles to follow for own made photographs while making sure that I am the actual producer of the photos (as I've seen theses that commonly take photographs from other sources without actually referencing the source)?

  • As with everything, what discipline are you in?
    – RoboKaren
    Commented Mar 4, 2015 at 0:56
  • The thesis is for infrastructure engineering.
    – DoubleYou
    Commented Mar 4, 2015 at 1:31
  • Unless you designed the building in question, I would use the style given in my answer. A photograph of a building does not per se (except in the fine arts) qualify as distinct enough to earn a separate line item in the bibliography. I wish it did! I had dozens of photographs in my last book, it would have given me two dozen more publications!
    – RoboKaren
    Commented Mar 4, 2015 at 1:32

2 Answers 2


At least in the social sciences and sciences, a photograph by itself would not warrant its own citation. You would refer to them the same as other diagrams, figures, and photographs:

  • Figure 1.1, 2.9, 3.7
  • Photograph 3.0, etc.
  • Diagram 4.5

Most people use some form Chapter.Number series enumerating, which makes it simpler when you add additional material in an earlier chapter. Most document editors will renumber your figures for you appropriately.

Then when the photograph comes up, you would caption it appropriately.

Crazy House
Photograph 5.1: Crazy house on Hayarkon Street, Tel Aviv. Photograph taken by Sambach on xxxx.xx.xx. Released to Wikimedia Commons.

(If you are the photographer/author, you could simply state Photograph by Author, taken on xxxx.xx.xx).

In text, you would refer to Photograph 5.1 in the text, just like that. If you needed to, you could add an explanatory note for example to:

Photograph 5.1 ("Crazy House / Tel Aviv") is a prime example of what architects would call a maison folle. .... .... I would like to direct your attention to faux turret on the top corner of Photograph 5.1 ... blah blah blah...

tl;dr: As with all things, do what your advisor suggests. However, the style I give here is more appropriate in the journals and publications that I'm familiar with.

Fine Print: If you are a fine artist and you list each piece of work (or series) in your cv as part of your intellectual/artistic output, then you could refer to your works using author (date) or other similar styles. But doing so in the sciences and social sciences (and most humanities) will just earn you a bit of scorn. I would only do so if you had solo shows, gallery representation, or some other form of appropriate peer-review recognition of your work within the artistic community. I'm guessing that is not the case since we get so few fine artists in a.se but I'm happy to expand on this if you were.
Fine Print 2: If you are an architect and you designed the building, then you are also free to cite your buildings as separate works.

  • Thanks for your reply, but I think you misunderstood my question. I know how to refer to the figure, I just want to know the recommended way of saying that I'm the photographer...
    – DoubleYou
    Commented Mar 4, 2015 at 0:46
  • 3
    "Photograph by author" in the caption.
    – RoboKaren
    Commented Mar 4, 2015 at 0:46

In the APA style, it is recommended to just use the date the picture was taken:

If you are the photographer, cite in-text only. Do not include in the Reference list. [...]

Include a caption, which is a detailed description under the photograph that explains it meaning and context, such as date, people, and location. For example:

Figure 1. School-aged children playing tag in Edworthy Park, a public park in Calgary, Alberta. November 18, 2016.

Source: https://bowvalleycollege.libguides.com/c.php?g=494959&p=3828594

This is what I will use for my thesis in geoinformatics.

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