Do you use watermarks on your photos?
Why or why not?
Two camps: One is that it’s an easy extension of your brand and it can protect your images. The Other is that it takes away from the image and offers little protection from those adept at photoshop or simple cropping.
Where do you stand? Do you think the threat of photo stealing is real? Is it real enough to impact what you share online?
If you have a watermark, post an example!
I sometimes watermark my images.
If I take travel photos for friends, I watermark them. So when they share it on social media I can get some credit or traffic back to my blog.
I also watermark my blog post photos. In case someone without permission copies it and uses it elsewhere (which has happened to me). Again, just to try and get some credit back to me.
I’m not too worried about someone trying to cut out the watermark and selling my images. Most of my images that I post online are low res. Of course this method isn’t 100% reliable.
I try not to watermark images with my face in it. If someone downloads my face it might annihilate their computer.
I reduce the opacity of my watermark to 8 – 15% to minimize ruining the actual photo.
Everybody wants to be protective of their own work, I know I am. But if a simple watermark takes away from someones photo, then perhaps the photo is not that special. People would love a great shot even if it has a watermark on it.
It is also good to be realistic on the chances for someones work to get ‘stolen’. And even if that happens, it’s free advertisement, although of course I would try to claim its credits and property if ti was mine.
Hard question. I’ve had images stolen and it infuriates me when credit is not even given…so I’ve tried several things – from going big/opaque watermarks to a small one now. To me, when I see a watermark, it says, ‘hey, I’m someone’s work.’ At the very least, I hope it makes people think twice before stealing it. It can also be an advertising tool to tells other people who’s work it is (unless its cropped, of course).
I do not watermark my mobile phone pics. I rarely take those photos seriously, but when I’ve spent time composing and adjusting my camera for that perfect shot – I care deeply about that time, place, and memory associated with it. The watermark (and attaching metadata to the file) is the best way I can stake that claim while still representing my work online.
As example, my blog (bottom left – it might be too small now)! 😉
Vincent – you sometimes watermark. When do you choose not to?
Richard – yes, everyone is protective! our photos are our babies 🙂 And that’s an interesting point to mull over, if the watermark “ruins” it was it strong in the first place? I’d stay away from seeing it as free advertising because if it’s stolen there’s no credit back to you.
Andrea – that is infuriating! I’ve yet to have this happen, that i’m aware of. Maybe it does make folks think twice, rather than “hey this is online so it must be up for grabs.” I bet, though, that mobile pics are just as much as risk.
I think the quality of the watermark matters a lot too. There’s folks who just slap a big Times New Roman of their name on the photo, and then there’s quite pretty little brandings that are essentially a logo. IMO, the quality of the watermark can speak volumes about the professionalism of the photographer.
I do watermark my images and have had varied experiences with it. The upshot is I’ve had people visiting the blog (www.pixelvoyages.com) to read the post after my image has been thrown up in a google search. I’ve also had a travel website use one of my images after removing the watermark once, but the image was removed later. So, it’s not just about protecting your image – it could also be about driving traffic.
Richard – do you mean you forget? It is an extra step for sure. Consistency would sure be key to making it a positive part of one’s brand vs seeming random or novice. This is a great point!
Vibha – excellent point as well. It can be about driving traffic, if your photo is reshared or used anywhere with your logo. It’s not super likely people will take the time to type out your name but there is a chance for sure. Also this would be good reason to have a legible watermark vs a cool signature type.
I disagree that people wouldn’t type in the name of a photographer to search for more of their work (re: Vibha’s comment about increasing traffic). As a new photographer I do it all the time. The beauty of a photographer’s branding is that most people can find you if they know your name!
I always watermark my images. I put my name diagonally across the full image and then really dial down the opacity so it doesn’t look too intrusive. You can just about see it, but (hopefully!) it doesn’t detract from the image and it also means that people will have a much harder time removing it.
I’ve heard stories of people just cropping out watermarks when they’re placed towards the edge of an image. I’ve heard of photos being stolen and then really badly Photoshopped in an attempt to make them look different. I also know professional photographers who have had their work lifted by big name, supposedly reputable publications. So it doesn’t hurt to be too careful!
I like Lindsey’s idea of a graphic watermark.