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Picture vs. Photo: What's the Difference?

Edited by Janet White || By Harlon Moss || Updated on October 26, 2023
A picture is a visual representation, while a photo is an image captured using a camera.

Key Differences

A picture refers to any visual representation or depiction, whether it's created using tools like paints, pencils, or digital software. A photo, on the other hand, specifically refers to an image taken with a camera, capturing a real-life scene or object.
The term picture encompasses a broader range of visuals, including drawings, illustrations, or even a mental image one might have. A photo is bound by the limitations of camera technology and the scene at the moment of capture.
When someone asks for a picture, they might be referring to any kind of visual image, including photos. However, when someone asks for a photo, they are exclusively asking for a photograph.
In digital contexts, a picture can mean any image file, whether it's a scanned painting or a digital photo. A photo, in these contexts, would strictly indicate an image taken by a digital camera or a scanned photograph.
A picture does not necessarily have to depict reality accurately. Artists can take creative liberties when creating a picture. A photo, however, while it can be edited, is rooted in the reality it captured.

Comparison Chart


A visual representation or depiction.
An image captured using a camera.


Can be created using various tools like paints, pencils, or digital software.
Taken with a camera.


Can be abstract, stylized, or realistic.
Rooted in the reality it captured.


Encompasses a broader range of visuals.
Specifically an image taken with a camera.

Digital Context

Refers to any image file.
Indicates an image taken by a digital camera or scanned.

Picture and Photo Definitions


A picture can refer to a mental image or concept.
I have a clear picture of what I want in my mind.


A photo is an image captured by a camera.
I took a photo of the mountain view.


A picture is an image displayed on a surface.
The picture on the wall is crooked.


A photo is a record of a moment or scene.
This old photo brings back so many memories.


A picture can be a movie or film.
Let's watch a picture at the theater tonight.


A photo can be a short form of the term "photograph".
Can you send me that photo?


A picture is a visual representation of something.
She drew a beautiful picture of a sunset.


A photo can be a visual proof or documentation.
He provided a photo as evidence of the incident.


A picture is a detailed description or impression.
Her story painted a vivid picture of her childhood.


A photo refers to a printed or digital photograph.
She showed me a photo from her wedding day.


A visual representation or image painted, drawn, photographed, or otherwise rendered on a flat surface.


A photograph.


Can a drawing be called a photo?

No, a drawing is a picture but not a photo.

Can a photo be abstract?

While rooted in reality, photos can be edited to appear abstract.

Can a photo be called a picture?

Yes, a photo can be considered a type of picture.

What's the difference between a digital photo and a printed photo?

One exists in digital format, while the other is a physical print.

Are all digital images pictures?

Yes, digital images are a type of picture.

Can a picture be auditory?

Typically, no. The term "picture" implies a visual representation.

Can pictures lie?

Pictures can be manipulated or taken out of context to misrepresent.

What is a picture?

A picture is a visual representation or depiction.

Why are movies sometimes called pictures?

The term refers to moving "pictures" or sequences of images displayed in rapid succession.

Can a screenshot be considered a photo?

It's more accurate to call it a picture, as it's not captured with a camera.

What is a mental picture?

It's an image or concept one visualizes in their mind.

How do I differentiate between a picture and photo in a gallery?

A photo captures real-life scenes, while pictures can also include illustrations, paintings, etc.

Are pictures always visual?

Generally, yes. They represent something visually.

What is a photo?

A photo is an image captured using a camera.

Is a photograph the same as a photo?

Yes, "photo" is often a short form for "photograph."

Can a photo be drawn?

Once drawn, it becomes a picture or illustration based on the photo.

Are all photos authentic?

No, photos can be edited or manipulated.

Are paintings considered photos?

No, paintings are considered pictures.

Can a picture capture emotions?

Yes, both photos and other types of pictures can evoke emotions.

Are all digital images photos?

No, only those captured with a camera are photos.
About Author
Written by
Harlon Moss
Harlon is a seasoned quality moderator and accomplished content writer for Difference Wiki. An alumnus of the prestigious University of California, he earned his degree in Computer Science. Leveraging his academic background, Harlon brings a meticulous and informed perspective to his work, ensuring content accuracy and excellence.
Edited by
Janet White
Janet White has been an esteemed writer and blogger for Difference Wiki. Holding a Master's degree in Science and Medical Journalism from the prestigious Boston University, she has consistently demonstrated her expertise and passion for her field. When she's not immersed in her work, Janet relishes her time exercising, delving into a good book, and cherishing moments with friends and family.

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