Sometimes I hear people say 'Photos' and some time I hear them say 'Pictures'. In addition, I sometimes encounter the word 'Image'. In my understanding I feel that all of them are the same but I'm not sure about this. So what is the difference between them?

When should I use 'Photo'?

When should I use 'Picture'?

When should I use 'Image'?

  • 2
    This is 2/3rds of a duplicate: ell.stackexchange.com/questions/9690/…
    – J.R.
    Commented Sep 27, 2013 at 15:48
  • 2
    @J.R. I should pick on you about it being either "2/3" or "two thirds", but not both. :)
    – Hellion
    Commented Sep 27, 2013 at 17:11
  • @Hellion - You got me; although "2/3rds" seems to be acceptable in headlines (see A B C D E F) – so maybe it's acceptable in an SE comment, too? :^)
    – J.R.
    Commented Sep 27, 2013 at 18:21
  • @J.R. Not my fault if a bunch of headline editors are uneducated....
    – Hellion
    Commented Sep 27, 2013 at 18:30
  • 1
    @Hellion - Okay, you win... [hangs head in shame]. (I could just edit or delete my comment, but then your brilliant catch would be rendered moot.)
    – J.R.
    Commented Sep 27, 2013 at 20:59

2 Answers 2


A photo, short for photograph, is always taken with a camera.

A picture is the most general term for any representation of a person, an object or a landscape. It can be a painting or a pencil drawing, etc.

The delimitation of image and picture has its difficulties. "image" has an overlapping area with "picture" and it has uses of its own where "image" is preferred. For example.

  • God created Man in his own image. - Here the idea of likeness is expressed.

  • Firms are concerned about the image the public has of them. And they try to create a positive image by public relations.

The word "image" has a many-sided character and it is useful to have a look at a dictionary about special uses of image.


  • 2
    This is excellent. I would just add that from a computer science / software stand point (mine), image should be used when talking about any type of image file. A picture or a photo does not encompass computer generated images, engineering drawings, etc. So if you handle images uniquely, such as by showing thumbnails, use isAnImage instead of isAPhoto or isAPicture. Commented Jun 25, 2020 at 16:59

And for the rest of the answer, a photograph is specifically an image or picture formed by the capture of the light from the subject on a light-sensitive medium, originally glass plates, then film, now usually an electronic sensor. A picture can include drawings, paintings, or computer-generated images.

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