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What is the difference between “photo” and “image”?
Difference between “picture” and “photo”

For my magister dissertation I need to rely on an accurate definition of what an image, a picture, a photograph and an illustration refer to.

Therefore, I would like you to help me figure out the differences.


2 Answers 2


I agree with @Matt that you would want to use a good dictionary to look up your terms, but I can tell you how we use these terms at a publishing company. A photograph is an image taken with a camera. An illustration is a drawing of some sort, generated by an artist (that includes digital art). (If I said to any of our editors "Is the cover art an illustration?" they know I don't mean a photo.) The term image is used for any photo or artwork, but usually means the artwork is in a computer file, ready to be placed in a design document. The term picture is synonymous with photo. And as @Andrew Leach mentioned in his comment, we use the word figure in our clinical journal to refer to the images that are cited in the text.

If you are asking how you should refer to photos, diagrams, and illustrations in your dissertation, I think figure is the word to use. It covers them all.


A photograph is a picture that is made by a camera. You can shorten the word to photo which is less formal. A picture is another word for referring to a photograph, especially in newspaper, magazines, ... In those cases you can also say illustration or figure, especially when referring to a diagram.

This illustration shows the process in form of a diagram.

In figure one, you can see that the value changed over the years.

A image is a picture that you can see in a mirror, on a TV, ... Again, you can use picture in that context.

A picture can also refer to a painting or drawing.

Moreover, both image and picture can mean an impression or mental image that you have of someone.

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