Why Watermark a Photo ?
First written in 2011, then updated
Why Watermark a Photo ?- we talk thought the ‘pros & cons’ about watermarking and ask if you should being marking your images.
Ciaran Whyte posted a question on Facebook that did get me thinking a little. I have been meaning to write about for a while.
I’ve been shooting 6 years now and to date I have avoided adding watermarks to my images. But given the recent theft of one my images and due a strange increase in requests for higher resolution versions of my images for wall papers, I have been revisiting the whole idea of watermarking. I’m not sure of the best way to add them… is this too much? Any suggestions?
I will be fair and balanced (ish) as I think out loud on to this blog. My things is… If your photography is in the public domain, do expect them to be used by other people, legal or not. Just look at Pintrest! If your not watermarking your work its like leaving the keys in the car, and the motor running, you are asking for problems. End of story in my head….. However.. the eagle eyed among you will notice I don’t water my on my website ?? So.. Maybe this is more complex.. and yes..
Sometimes I like to use a magazine style credit for all members of the creative team, Its a nice simple way to give access and information to the other people while at the same time as showing ownership to solve and prevent any simple faux pas. Its fine for me and my style of work, I can use it to show who does what and when, use it provide a background. Using this style of watermark is perfect for me to show my relationship to a photo. The other thing I like to do is add my signature. Sometimes the content of a photo is less editorial or a big water mark is way to distracting… Sometimes I like to use a mix… and on my portfolio site I have no watermarks any more at all, but lay my photos out in sets. I then use a little bit of code to have a message that pops up when people try and right click to save as. I know this is really easy to get around, but this is me trying to at least do the right thing. In a perfect world if the photos are not on my website I mark them to let people know how to find me. I guess that if they are on my site they have already found me.
These are tear sheet examples from my Tear Sheet Gallery
If the photos are being taken of a website that you can control, there are many many ways of preventing this by using software to remove the option to save the photo direct of the site. Taking away the , Save As function can solve many problems. This is a very simple thing to solve. If the photos are being taken from a third party site like Facebook, Model Mayhem Purestorm or any others, its very simple to solve also. Just don’t use them. But, this is just not practical, so, most of us just except the trade off and get the benefit. Use a watermark. Make it easy for people to find you and ask you about the work.
If you have been lucky enough to shoot a brand or advert, I would never add back any watermarks of my own. Another great way to show your photos if you want to keep an editorial style is to lay them up as you would have them in a magazine. here I have cropped to a 5×4 ratio similar to a magazine.
Everyone is going to have there own reasons for tagging a photo, but it does shock me when people don’t I have to think, Do they really not want to claim credit to there work ? do they not want people to trace the photo back to its creator ? If they don’t, can they really complain when it is used for something beyond there means to proven ? As a photographer that’s why I am putting the photos out into the public eye in the first place, the more times they are reposted the harder they become to track and find the end user. As a Photo Editor for a magazine, this is very annoying, having to try and trace owners of lovely photos.
As Photographer Jay McLaughlin says:
“mostly self promotion, my theory is that if someone wants to steal your image, they will… it’s a sad fact of the internet. So I figure it’s better to let them advertise me in the process”
“so what if someone moves it ? just out of intrest? Would you confront them ?” I asked back.“I’d do what I’ve done to a photographer recently send him an invoice then when he doesn’t pay… take him to court. I won’t watermark over the middle of an image it ruins it”
“I use watermarks so people can find their way back to my own archive of images on the internet. Direct links can become unclear after the second or third reblogging of an image. I think they should be subtle and added to the image in a way that does not spoil the viewers experience of the image”
Clear and very vaild reasons to use them, Its a good way to keep tabs and track of your photos.
The message here is, protect yourself and be sensible. Use a nice small credit or watermark, avoid problems by claiming ownership early on. Anyway… What are your thoughts ??