Are You Making Mistakes Regarding Watermarking Your Photos?

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There’s two sides, or more, to every story.  The topic of watermarking image gets photographers animated.

Watermarking, in current times, is a term used loosely to describe:

  1. Branding of your images in a subtle way, such as across the bottom or even on a solid color bar to one side of an image.
  2. Marking a solid logo and/or copyright across your image, disturbing part of the subject.  The watermark may be opaque, partially transparent or even embossed.
  3. Digitally labeling your image with a copyright that is not actually visible.

The big question for photographers is “should you watermark your images, and if so how?” In this article I am referring to showing your name, studio name, copyright information or other identifiers on web images.  I am not referring to prints.

The major reasons photographers add a watermark or branding to their images are:

  • Establish copyright: This tells others the name of the copyright owner and creator of the image.
  • Branding: This shows others who you are and often where they can find you and more of your work.
  • Protecting: If placed in certain prominent areas of the photo, it makes removal more difficult, though likely not impossible. This can cut down on sharing, but also can make it harder for clients to take a web image get it printed.  Some printers disregard watermark and will print it anyway. Some customers will take the time to remove one if it is not hard to remove.
  • Advertising: Since it’s a fact that photos get shared, and customers will want to post your images to social networking sites and through emails, you might as well get the advertising benefit too.
  • Expose thieves: At least if you add your watermark and branding in a hard to remove location, if a customer prints from the web image, it will be obvious to all.

In the digital word we live in, with social sharing sites like Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and others, images do get shared.  When they are shared, if you watermark your photos with your name and/or web address, you are getting credit and exposure. If you do not want the photo floating around, I suppose you could have a message stating that too.  It cannot stop sharing, but could make it more embarrassing for those who do.

Knowing all of the above, why would any smart photographer skip adding their copyright, logo, or name on an image? We asked around and here’s what we learned.

Then why would you dare skip watermarking:

  • It is distracting: Watermarks cover up important elements of the photo.  They ruin the essence of the image.
  • It is arrogant: In a discussion with Katja Hentschel, a professional photographer in Berlin, Germany, she explained, “I think watermarked pictures are less likely to be shared. I think they send a message of slight arrogance in saying it must under no circumstances ever surface anywhere without its proper reference. I personally am happy to see that my photos are being shared, and while it’s never nice to see them without credit, I’m still glad people like them, feel inspired by them and want to share them with friends and followers.”
  • It shows self-confidence of the photographer: Katja expressed that “by not watermarking photos the photographer shows confidence in his work and style. I do recognize the photography of my favorite artists, bloggers, photographers, regardless of a by-standing reference.”
  • Allows the photo to shine (photos look better without text all over them): As José Navarro explained in response to our question on Facebook, “you should be thinking about the mood, expectation and request for engagement a great photo provides….not an ugly watermark which takes over 60% of the image.”

Now it’s your turn.  Tell us if you watermark and/or brand your images.  What info do you add to your photo and where do you add it? Do you think it is best to add your “mark” or leave it off? We’d love to read what you think in the comments below.

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 Are You Making Mistakes Regarding Watermarking Your Photos?

Jodi Friedman, MCP Actions

Jodi Friedman is the founder of MCP Actions. She designs popular Photoshop actions and teaches Photoshop to photographers across the globe.

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53 Comments and 27 Replies



  1. 1
    Ashley Lawton says:

    I watermark my photos but also reduce the quality for online use. I have had friends’ photos “stolen” and posted with another’s name taking credit. I have increased my business by it and will continue to use one. I don’t watermark where it would interfere with the subject. Usually I place it in the corner.

  2. 2
    Cassandra says:

    A smart photographer will take steps to protect their work, but won’t make a massive HEYLOOKATME!!!! watermark obstructing the majority of the image. I and all photographers I know and work with have found that a simple line or two of text across the bottom of the image, maybe put at 20% transparency, works well. It’s obvious enough so that it won’t be printed at a reputable place like CVS or WalMart, and it keeps your name on it in the event of sharing.

  3. 3

    I do tend to watermark when postin images on my blog etc, and I often ponder the points discussed above. Will the marking make me seem desperate/hide the actuall image/stop people from stealing etc..? I know it will not stop people from stealing, unfortunatly. Only their own conscience can do that.

    My watermarks tends to be placed right in the corner, so it doesnt obstruct from the actual image too much, but this also means that any cheeky thief can simply crop it out. Where theres a will theres a way :( But I would never plaster a watermark going right ACROSS the whole image, it´s very distracting and looks ridiculos!

  4. 4
    Sandra Wallace says:

    I always wonder at what point you start adding a watermark. Is it only when you begin selling them or when you incorporate a photography business? I’ve seen a lot of amateur photographers including watermarks now and I sometimes question whether it comes off as arrogant, assuming people will want to steal your photos. At the same time though, you have to protect your work. I don’t think there is a perfect answer.

    • Sheryl says:

      Once you sell pictures, or you are published, you loose the status of amatuer. Professional photographers spend a whole lot of money on their equipment, backdrops, props, and time in publishing and preparing photos, and their end product, the picture, the photo of a memory should never be compromised!

    • TRP says:

      I myself am an amateur photographer and used to put up pictures on blogs without adding a watermark. At least I did until I came across one of the images I had posted being used by another person who was taking credit for the photo. Now I find myself adding a watermark to any picture I post, not because I’m full of myself and think that someone is going to want to take it, but because it has happened and I’m just trying to be careful that it doesn’t happen again. Like you said, there is no perfect answer, but for me, I want to have my work protected, so I add a watermark.

      • Jade says:

        I agree with you, but another reason I want all my work marked is because I am fairly new in the business end and would like to take my photography to the next level. Every photo seen with my watermark on it is advertising, so by all means, share away!

      • Rafael says:

        I am an amateur photographer as well, and have had two incidents where someone was using one of my images as their own. I use a small mark on a corner of the frame since then. Although most of my Pics are pretty bad, I work hard and spent lots of $ to get them

  5. 5
    Shannon says:

    I am a make-up artist and take a lot of my own photos. I watermark everything I post as the work in the photo is mine and if the photos end up being shared and used by others I can prove it. My watermarks are set at 80% transparency across the image – personally I don’t think it detracts that much. I have had my work stolen in the past by people claiming it as their work and so I will not post anything without a watermark now.

  6. 6
    Tonya says:

    I do not watermark. I guess because I don’t mind if they are shared, and either way, I am getting business because people ask, who took these shots? I get tired of trying to see around huge watermarks across pictures. You lose some of the beauty of the image. Photos are made to share, to speak to the beauty of a moment captured in time, I want that image to move people and not bring attention to the photographer, but the photograph!

    • What a delicate balance to see the wonder of a child and the fragile life of a butterfly cross paths. Gorgeous photo!

    • Abbi says:

      I’m a full time photographer- meaning 100% of my house payments and groceries comes from the images that I sell.

      If I am posting an image online to pinterest or facebook, which is known to strip metadata and copyright information, then it will always have a watermark.

  7. 7
    Liz says:

    I do, and will continue to, add my logo. I keep it simple black and white and change the opacity, and screen, or multiply, as necessary to make it less interfering. I do make it kind of large for the Internet, but my feeling is that the viewer knows its a logo and can still appreciate or dislike it even with the logo. I don’t really think a logo is going to make or break it for the viewer, but it can make it harder to steal, though not impossible. However this is really just how I feel about it. :)

  8. 8

    I am sorry, but I happen to be a professional, full-time, working photographer, and there is nothing arrogant about watermarking. This is my business. If I put an image out there on Facebook/Instagram/Twitter, I am not doing it for the altruistic “joy’ of knowing that someone shared or liked my image. I am doing it to promote my work, support my brand and find new business.

    Not watermarking your images is not a mark of self-confidence, it’s a mark of stupidity. People in the social media will happily share your images, but unless you watermark, do not expect that they will include any credit to the photographer, this is the exception, not the rule. Once your image is out there without credit, no one will have the possibility to know who created that image.

    It infuriates me to read quotes from other photographers implying to newcomers and less experienced photographers that there is something wrong with protecting one’s work. Did Picasso, Dali, Matisse and most other great painters sign their work, yes, they did. Why should photography be any different. If I saw Katja Hentschel’s work somewhere online without a watermark, I would assume it was shot by any of the other 1000′s of people trying to copy Terry Richardson’s style.

    • Stacey Brock says:

      Well said Bryon….I couldn’t agree with you more.

    • Connie says:

      Thank you for that Bryon, well said. I agree wholeheartedly. This is my living and it is my brand I’m promoting.

    • Lindsey says:

      I dabble in painting and other artistic medias along with being a photographer. I really agree with what Brian was saying about an artist signing their work. Back in high school, when I did a lot a darkroom work and printing, my mentors encouraged the photographer to sign (and date for that matter) their work. Granted, they typically were referring to the back side of the photo. Being in this digital world we live in now, we as artists can’t do that (without actually printing the photo.) So, what do we do? We brand, and watermark. I actually have two different logos I use. I have one for my people shots and one for my “everything else” or “artsy” photos. I keep them small for the most part, at a medium transparency, and in the least distracting corner of the photograph. HOWEVER, I only brand for social media purposes. When I place an album for a customer on my website, I do not brand. This is because, when/if they choose to print, they just have the print. No need to brand when they already know who took their pictures and have signed a contract that clearly talks about uses and abuses. I believe it is overkill at that point. Especially because when they buy from my website my name is printed on the back of the photograph (most of the time they don’t even know.)

      I found an article after reading this one. It is about copyrights and if a photographer has to have them. I will attach the link because I think it is a decent read and something newbies would probably like to know. In short it says, “From a legal perspective, this isn’t really necessary. It is nice, however, if you want to get your name out there.” I just know that kind of like Brian said above, I’m a business. I am no longer just some person that takes pictures for fun. I want to promote and gain credit for my hard work and efforts. From an artist and business person’s standpoint, it is a good move. That way, if you catch the eye of a magazine etc., and they want to publish a non-marked version of your picture, it is totally at your discretion to choose to do so, seeing as though they will credit your work if they are a legitimate company. If someone chooses to put a picture out there without their name because they feel that the public should be able to recognize its owner, well…I think it is a bit conceded and naïve unless you are Ansel Adams or Anne Geddes (who actually in fact still brands even though most people clearly know her work.) My opinion respectfully; make it clean, make it small, but make it yours…you did the work, so own it!

    • Wendy says:

      Bryon, you are not doing anything to dispel the view that people who watermark are arrogant. You can get your point across without resorting to name calling, eg “it’s a mark of stupidity.”
      So, is everyone who has a different perspective to you “stupid”???

    • Mark says:

      I agree wholeheartedly with your position. Watermarking images is a great way to show your brand and protect your work but we all know it won’t keep nefarious people completely at bay. Watermarks can be cropped out and new ones added by anyone. All watermarks do is keep honest people honest.

    • Betina says:

      OMG…. Thank You so much; I want gonna watermark my work until I read your post. Once again Thank You very much!

    • La Bohemia says:

      Hi Byron, I just read your comments and couldn’t agree with you more. Just recently I logged into my Facebook and what do you think I saw? One of my images posted with the watermarks missing. The image was distorted due to a horrible attempt to remove the watermark,non the less it was stolen.

      Yes I’m elated that people like my work to the point that they want to share it, but no credit was given to the photograper. (I of course jumped in and claimed the work.)

      Professional photography requires serious investments, dedication and for full-timers lots of hours away from family. Not protecting your source of income is…well you, know.

    • kylie says:

      Well said! :) The last thing I want to do as an Amateur starting out is to seem arrogant but I do want to get my name out there. Why does guilt have to be laced with everything we do! If you invest your time into an image and you don’t want it to be stolen then why not add a watermark…

    • Your argument for watermarking and comparing it to Picasso signing the work is totally irrelevant. You should sign your prints; on the mat around the image, not gigantic blocks of typeset superimposed over your print. Why on earth would you want your web portfolio to look worse than your gallery where your prints hang? And you think that your customers are buying work from you because of your watermarks? I would wager it is because your clients appreciate your work and promote you. Your facebook marketing does not need logos; your images link to your FB Page.

      If you are selling baby photos a lot I suppose your logos won’t hurt you….but if you are selling fine art you would be shooting yourself in the foot to mar your work with a watermark that doesn’t really belong there.

      And you brought up Katja Hentschel…http://www.katjahentschel.com/ I don’t see watermarks on any of her work.

  9. 9
    Debbie says:

    I have a crazy question.. if adding a watermark to your picture. Do you save 2 copies, one with, and one without the watermark, encase you would like to print or blow up the picture yourself?
    Or do you just print or enlarge the picture with your watermark on it? Thank you

  10. 10

    I do watermark my photos along the bottom. I don’t think it’s arrogance, anymore than an artist signing a painting is being arrogant, or a writer using a by-line. In fact, I hate when I see a beautiful photograph hanging somewhere or printed somewhere with no indication of who took it.

    • Carole says:

      I hate seeing uncredited photos too. After finding several of my photos on tumblr blogs, I started resizing and adding a watermark so people would know where they came from. Protecting your work isn’t arrogant, it’s common sense.

    • Martha Hamilton says:

      I agree Barbara. I have been frustrated for the photographer when I see a beautiful shot in a magazine, as I did recently, with no credit given. I hate the theft that goes on.

    • Nate says:

      I too like to see a watermark in the corner of a photo.

      1, It shows me that the Photographer takes photography and them self seriously.
      2, I can then track the Photographer down to view more of their work if I like what I see.

      Added to that it can quite often add to the photo if the Logo is well designed and added well.

      I’m not a fan of huge watermarks across the centre of an image. If you’re going to do that why bother posting it up at all? Though I do understand the need/desire to protect your work.

      Nate

  11. 11

    Hey guys, I have been a full-time professional photographer for 10 years. I have watermarked my images for some time now thinking it would prevent people from stealing my images. When a client of mine came up with a card to send to all her clients and stole it from my web site with the watermark still on it! Plus the quality of the picture was poor. I was so mortified to say the least. Its one thing that a stranger steal your stuff its a whole other thing when you know the person to who took it. It was across the middle at 50%. So it helps and then it doesnt help but most of the time helps…and if you put it on the bottom people can download and crop it out. I think its a huge judgement call personally on the photographer.

    • Ugh. Great advice on the watermark and that would have been quite a compliment of your work had they asked permission. I will try to have clear communication with my clients thanks to your post. Thanks!

    • MorgannW says:

      I definitely agree on the not putting it in the corner since it can be cropped out and has been done many a time. As an artist myself it’s true. Our branding is a big deal and as a graphic designer I know how important it is that that branding become known and related to our images when people see, therefore people know what to look for so a watermark does double duty in showing the artist as well as protecting the art, just depending on what kind of watermark since so many just put some blob thing on it. I design logos and so forth to go on them if people choose to do so, or make the watermark embed into the image which helps against the mater photoshoppers who live to steal.

  12. 12
    LeiShell says:

    I watermark images shared on the web. It helps my business and creates branding. I never do it where it obstructs the photo though. And for clients I don’t watermark their images if they purchase a high resolution disc because I want them to print with ease and if they love their photos they’ll promote me better than I could. I don’t think It’s arrogant to watermark, but taking pride in your work. A lot of hours and art form go into creating a beautiful image, I wouldn’t want my work to go floating around the web without a little credit to my hard work. I still, however, feel the photo should stand out, not the watermark. Interesting discussion:)

  13. 13
    Ashley Renz says:

    I always use a watermark, usually across the middle at 50%, unless it is obstructing the subject. However, I recently did a shoot for a family’s Christmas photos. I posted a few samples with my watermark on them on my Facebook business page and someone who was not a fan, but rather a friend of a friend who had “liked” my page copied my photo, cut around the watermark, made a collage with a photo she had taken, and posted the collage on this friend’s wall, saying the photos were the exact same! (They weren’t, her models were in a different pose, in a different season, and in a different location altogether. The only similarity was that our subjects were on bridges.) I was LIVID that someone would do that! I still don’t even understand that person’s point. I never had seen her work and I didn’t know her at all. It was just upsetting in so many ways to see my work disrespected and my clients’ memories stolen and cut up so some amateur could make a point.

    Still, I continue to watermark, because you can’t take too many chances.

  14. 14
    Brad hardin says:

    Did Picasso, Dali, or Matisse put huge obnoxious signatures across half of there painting? A watermark is totally acceptable but the huge watermarks that draw your attention to it first and the image second are totally self serving and self centered. JMO

    • Ron Hildebrand says:

      I think you’re comparing apples & oranges, Brad. Pre-Internet artists didn’t have to protect against someone downloading their photo, cropping out the watermark, and then using it against copyright. It wasn’t much of a threat that someone might to steal their canvas, crop out their signature, and use it elsewhere. They only had to ID their work, and a small, unobtrusive signature in a corner did everything that was necessary.

  15. 15
    Leslie says:

    When I post images online, I watermark them with my brand logo. I also make them a smaller and low-res image to attempt to reduce printing and misuse. I put my watermark across the top or the bottom of my image. I know that someone could likely easily crop it out sometimes, but it would take some work. It’s not fool-proof, but it makes me feel better and 9 times out of 10, people don’t mess with it.

  16. 16
    Eric Flak says:

    I use an extremely subtle watermark on my work. So subtle that you often have to be looking right at it to see it, and I try to place it in an area that doesn’t disturb the subject, but can’t be simply cropped out. I also digitally watermark the file. And I don’t upload anything at full-size.

    As for other people’s work, I don’t mind branding, but generic watermarks like a giant “X” through the middle of the image ruins it.

  17. 17
    Sueze says:

    I am just starting to watermark all my photos that I post online. I had an older photo taken, that was not watermarked and posted by someone else with false information attached to it. A business then posted it and within a few hours it had been shared with all the wrong information to well over 10,000 people. That is when I knew I needed to start making sure posted photos have my watermark.

  18. 18
    Andrea says:

    I previously did not do a watermark, simply because with my photography business, I hand over copyright of all the images anyway to the client. So the photos I posted Facebook, why add copyright? Facebook is a sharing site…any photos posted I feel should be shared. I have sort of started adding a water mark every now and then…but it’s only for advertisement purposes.

  19. 19
    Ian Aberle says:

    Trey Ratcliff, the artist behind StuckInCustoms.com, recently posted on this very topic at https://plus.google.com/+TreyRatcliff/posts/UTKKo5Su6Rj. There is over 400 comments on Treys post, so I would recommend giving that a read too.

    I’m always torn on the issue. I agree they can be ugly and easily cropped out, but also, their is the extra effort to maintain multiple copies. I’ve seen people even try to photoshop out (poorly, I might add) the watermark. I recently (less than 2 weeks ago) had some images used on multiple sites where the watermark was cropped out. Then today, someone contacted me on Facebook to see if an image of her was from me as she couldn’t read the company or person’s name on the watermark. Lucky, I recognized it and was able to help her out, but that person still almost lost a licensing deal even with the watermark.

    Back in the day, there was Digimarc in Photoshop for putting digital watermarks on your image. Has anyone used that or still use it?

  20. 20
    deb says:

    I watermark my images and think this is an awesome way to attempt to cut down on the process of stolen images. I also do not put up many of the images taken within a session because the thing that the clients LOVE is to see/hear the response of others who see them…The computer world takes that and multiplies it…NOW the potential client is less likely to buy many photos…because they have already gotten the response they were looking for for free when the images are uploaded.

    I also tend to watermark according to what the images are being used for…Senior Photos…Family Photos and Weddings I would do a smaller water mark…Commercial work…I tend to do a Larger watermark…

    For me ..it has helped…I had a local photographer take my images and act like they were done by him…of course I had not watermarked them…learned the lesson the hard way.

  21. 21
    Anna Marie says:

    As a hobbyist who hopes to someday make the leap to professional photographer, I have spent much time grappling with this question. The reason I joined FB way back when, was to be able to share photos of my kids with friends and family. Email just wasn’t cutting it, when I’ve been known to take 1200 photos of my kids in a day, and it takes up to an hour to load 3 shots into an email and send to the grandparents.

    But as time has gone on, I have begun watermarking my photos…for a couple reasons. One being that I have in-laws who print off every photo I share and send copies to everyone they know, and watermarking can give all those other friends and family the ability to know who’s kids are in the pictures as time goes on. I don’t make the mark obtrusive to the photo though. I also hope that others who would “steal” or take credit for images would be reminded by the watermark that it was taken by someone else.

    Where I do struggle with my decision to watermark is when I share images that are solely meant as a share for family and friends…whether they are snapshots that aren’t fully edited, etc…they aren’t up to a professional caliber that I want to portray once I do set up a business. But I still would hope that a watermark may cut down on someone’s urge to copy/share the image.

    In the end…there are a handful of snapshots that I don’t watermark, but the rest I do. I took the time and effort to create the image and edit it. If I were a painter or a writer no one would question the fact that my name is put on the final product that is printed for the world to see. Why should photography be any different?

  22. 22
    mark reese says:

    Hello. I’m an amateur Nature photographer. I watermark my photos as well. I agree with what Bryon shared. Every great artist that ever lifted their brush to creat a masterpiece, signed their work. We as photographers are artist as well. I aso keep two copies so I watermark one and keep the original on file. For me a corner works well or small type across the bottom. I never watermark across the image because that, in my opinion would ruin the image you worked so hard to present to others. But once again, it’s left up to the photographer’s discretion.

  23. 23
    Sharon says:

    For professional photographers, if they are publishing portrait client work online I think it’s irresponsible not to watermark. Theft happens! Watermarking isn’t fool proof but can deter client work from ending up in undesirable places.
    For editorial work, eh.. that’s personal preference. Sometimes I mark it, sometimes not.
    If the photographer is just a hobbyist and/or the work is not client work then again, personal preference.
    I avoid putting too much of my work online at all.

  24. 24
    Andrey says:

    If you don’t want your photos to be stolen don’t upload them to the Internet at all.

    It is not a problem now to remove a watermark on any digital picture. I usually sign my photos with a small watermark addressing to my website with 25% opacity just to promote myself. But if I will find my work in the Internet, and sometimes I do, I just try to comment below that I’m the author.

    Usually, inside myself i’m happy that people are stealing my photos, and it means that photos are not bad, and people want to have them :) Of course I publish photos are not larger than 1200px.

    • Josh says:

      I’m in the same boat. Simply put watermark towards bottom half of the pic stating my website, then keep it at low resolution for Internet use.

      If it gets used without my authority its not huge set back. Maybe it’s different if its a business.

      And I’ve always respected watermarked photos. It gives credit we’re credit is due.

  25. 25
    Rebekah says:

    In the last year or so I have started putting watermarks on all images I take professionally but I don’t watermark my personal pictures even if I’m sharing them on my blog or on facebook. Gosh! I wouldn’t have time to do all that even if I wanted to. The size and type of watermark I add varies from a simplified version of my logo to the biz site address to direct people where I want them to go. Sometimes I mark it slightly over the subject and sometimes I tuck it away. I use a watermark both for protection and for marketing. And I have finally learned to resize the images I post! That took me forever to learn that I was being entirely too generous in what I was posting.

  26. 26
    Nina says:

    I always watermark but in a tasteful, unobtrusive manner. I shoot to raise money for charities and when my work is stolen children are robbed of the benefit of the image. Sad that it’s necessary but it has nothing to do with ego, just an effort to protect work. I feel that watermarking puts one in a better position when arguing a copyright violation, too.

  27. 27
    Jodi says:

    Question…do all of you who watermark your photos do so only on social media or on your websites or both? I watermark my images on social media, but have not made that jump to watermarking each and every image on my website. Wondering how that looks to those viewing my website. Any opinions? Thanks!

  28. 28
    Penelope says:

    I watermark, and it’s because most of my photos are of my children. I don’t think that my work is so amazing that everyone wants to steal it, I think that there are many lazy people who don’t take their own photos though and look to steal photos online for blogs or articles or facebook, and online theft of photos (and written work) is rampant.

  29. 29
    Ronald says:

    I have used various styles of watermarks, digital and electronic, I know it ruins the picture or it takes away from the essence. I have heard these comments for years and from certain “photographer’s in particular” which leads me to believe that had I not watermarked I would find them somewhere else under someone else’s name.

    But there are tricks to having the watermark become an issue to prevent from being stolen. One if the watermark is in a place where there are colour changes and various shade changes then it makes it harder work to remove it, the second trick is the colour of the watermark, by making the watermark a colour other than red (easiest colour to remove, then you are causing the image to be damaged if the remove it. I also upload my images at 25% of the original pixels.

    But there is an even more important reason to watermark it, in the US copyright is established when the work is produced, or when the work is published, and the copyright is identified by the following ©Ron Palmer photography 2013, with the year attached it establishes the year of copyright, now it is not fool proof but it is a deterrent, and if they can find an easier picture to steal one without a watermark they will.

  30. 30
    April says:

    I do watermark my images. It’s been getting smaller and smaller though. I don’t want it to distract from my work but I do want it there mostly for advertising. I’m well aware they can be stolen. I use white or gray and try and put it in an inconspicuous location for the most part. There may be some images that are watermarked so they can be seen in a profile picture though. For instance when I do my Senior rep program I will likely do a couple where the watermark could be seen in the profile. But maybe not, we’ll see!

  31. 31
    Martha Hamilton says:

    I add a copyright in a faint shade, in a spot that does not distract from the photo. I have had photos used on a website with no credit and used and sold as the person’s work. I hate that. I work hard for my photos and spend lots of money. I deserve credit!

  32. 32

    I believe photography is art & I personally like to see who took the photos so watermark away! I also like to protect my client’s investment, they paid for the photos so why would I allow anyone on facebook to have it for free and not them?

    Now, for someone like Ms. Valentine’s client…yeesh! Sorry about that, it could have been a quite a compliment. To get around this issue, I charge more for the shoot up front and include the CD without watermark so that they have freedom to print. In the future, I will ask if they would be so kind to include my name as a courtesy.

    Thanks for all the comments, I learned quite a bit!

  33. 33
    Lynn McCann says:

    I’ve read the above article with great interest. I work at one of those box stores where we do try to protect the copyright for photographers. I’m finding that while some photographers take the time to add a watermark, most do not. The lack of watermark, in some customers’ minds, means that they can just print whatever they want without a copyright release from their photographer. They get really upset when they are informed otherwise. On the other side of the coin, I’m blaming photographers for not including a release with their work if they are allowing prints to be produced. Don’t just tell people they can go to ****** and print whatever they want- we need it in writing! A simple jpg file on their disc with the release would save a lot of ill feelings all around.

  34. 34

    There is a way to copyright your images – you can set the metadata either in-camera or in lightroom etc to show your copyright embedded in the file. You don’t need to watermark to protect your images.

    AND what if you use watermarks to promote your business and look for new clients? Do you know your rights? What if you are a music photographer, take a photo of a musician, slap your watermark on the image and publish? Did you ask the musician to sign a release form?

    I only say this because in some countries if you take a picture of someone in a public space and then use it for commercial purposes (such as promoting your business, like using a watermark) you are in breach of that person’s rights, and they have grounds to prosecute because you are using a photo of them without their permission to promote your own commercial gain…

    Any copyright lawyers in the house that can elaborate???

    I used to copyright my images, now I don’t, it’s absolutely ridiculous and self-riteous to think you are SO GOOD that you need to watermark your work. You KNOW you took it, you have PROOF, what is there to worry about when someone steals your work? How much money a shonky business is going to make off you? Probably not much and you can watch the business fold in a matter of months because they’re screwing up. In terms of advertising, millions of images are taken and posted every day. It’s a cut-throat industry, deal!! You need thick skin and you need to stay true to your beliefs as a photographer, or no one will book you (and it won’t be because your watermark isn’t big enough!).

  35. 35
    Irek Janek says:

    I honestly don’t see any reason not to watermark your work. Katja brings some valid points for not branding your images but if anybody is inspired by you pictures, they will share them without trying to take a credit for your work (subtle watermark as your signature should not stop them). I hardly can see any artist taking a great picture and butchering the image with some ugly watermark. As for professional photographers, watermarking proofs distributed to potential clients is a great way of protecting yourself from a theft. I believe so strongly in watermarking that I even wrote a FREE application that allows anybody to put a watermark on their pictures ( http://www.customdworks.com/phHelper.aspx), how you apply the watermark without taking away from the picture is another matter. All in all if done right watermarking your pictures in my opinion is something that should be done. Does anybody think that Van Gogh damaged his paintings by signing them?

  36. 36
    Kenny fremer says:

    can a person add a watermark to pictures he has not even taken .not talking about a picture someone else took and he asks permission..a person who takes public pictures like from ads and magazines and watermarks them as his own .i can not believe this is correct.thanks kenny

  37. 37
    RK says:

    I’ve been debating whether to watermark or not and come to decision not to. What I have finally decided to do after reading this post and responses is to post images in small size, relatively small (821 x 544 at 150dp). I’m just about to get my own website going and I really want visitors to have a nice viewing experience. I think this is very important in todays world where we see images constantly all over the internet.

    I will watermark the odd special image discretely in the corner for social networks even if it can be easily removed, for advertising purposes more than anything else.

  38. 38
    Texas Thu Step says:

    I think it is up the photographers discretion. I like watermarking in the corner in a very low opacity. I had a client recently crop out my watermarks on a collage they made. I was a little irritated because I did their shoot on a ridiculously low rate and was hoping I would get some redirects or inquiries back from the photos because of the watermarks or referrals. None happened. Lesson learned I think you have to stipulate the use of the photos before hand and hope the client understands that this is how we earn our daily bread and never low ball yourself haha. I wouldn’t have minded if I got decently paid.

  39. 39
    GirlWander says:

    I think it is a good idea to watermark within the borders of a photo (as shown) so as not to disrupt the image. I’m not a photographer I’m simply a traveller who likes to take photos and by putting my traveller “brand” on there people can trace it back to me and find out more information about where the picture was taken.

  40. 40

    I have been watermarking my photographs with my own personal logo, but only on photographs I post anywhere online, mainly for protection but also to get my name out there. I will put it in a designated corner depending on it’s visibility and where on the photo where it will work aesthetically. I do not watermark images (like prints) that I have taken for paying clients so that they can make copies as they please without any unwanted watermarks on their images. For non-paying clients however I will keep the watermark, even on prints.

  41. 41
    BT Says says:

    I have seen this debate on this all over the place including Google+. I read in one article that it takes away from the meaning of the picture (referring to Art Photography). Thing is, if you cannot get the meaning or the creativity from the photographer as an artist with a watermark, it’s not going to happen without one. As an aspiring professional, I use watermarks to brand my name. I have been given photo credit before on single images. I have also been given photo credit where several photographers were bunched together. How is someone to say which is yours when bunched with others unless specified or watermarked?

  42. 42
    Gib says:

    Thanks for the useful as well as informative information / opinion (s). It’s always nice to hear what others think of our craft, how it works for them and what they find / fell others doing they approve of as well as detest. I have never used one of those disgusting across the center of your work watermarks. I do however water mark my work, mainly on the bottoms at left or right horizontally using s fairly small area with a touch of opacity if needed and even ad color if it looks best allowing the image to be the focus of the viewers attention and not the stupid watermark. I too have no issues with my images being shared. I’ve always taken it as a compliment, hell most of us aren’t famous enough to worry about that sort of interest to start with. But if I found a large publication using one of them, I would nicely ask that they compensate me. Loved the info on the old film history and lab tidbits. Thanks, enjoyed the read, nice job.

  43. 43
    Elizabeth says:

    It honestly depends where I publish my images. If it is on my website, DeviantART or Flickr I do not watermark the images as they cannot be saved to someone’s hard drive (can still be taken in some way, but I’m wanting to appear professional and show the images to their fullest potential on these sites so I don’t mind really); I will watermark anything that goes on Facebook or social networking sites as it allows for better exposure.

    My watermark is small, transparent and simple with a web address beneath it. I realize it adds somewhat of a childish aspect to the photos, but it is a good way of marketing your work.

    I will also watermark for event photography where lots of people will see my images. I will NEVER watermark for paid domestic or commercial work that isn’t club event work or something. (Will never watermark wedding photos, family photos, etc.)

    Also won’t watermark any printed work. It’s just a matter of where the images will be shown.

  44. 44
    Katie says:

    I kind of disagree from one point in the article that watermarking is arrogant! It IS two sided…not that it’s good and bad for the photographer, but two-sided in that it can be good for the photographer and GOOD for the client as well. In the age of Pinterest, Facebook, Instagram, etc., photos are easily downloaded, copied, shared and used by anyone. There are ways around even the most “Pinterest protective” sites. By watermarking web images, photographers can protect their clients faces, or their children’s faces, from being shared and downloaded by others, and used in other peoples promotions without their knowledge or consent. Watermarking is a deterrent for non-clients attempting to find and use “stock” images. Just google-image search anything! You can find numerous images belonging to other people you could download and use without consent…EXCEPT for the ones that are watermarked. I don’t mind my clients using and sharing images I took of them. Especially if they purchased them – they are theirs to use however they want. But if I am the one sharing them, I put my logo on them to protect the client. I am less concerned about people stealing my work than I am about people stealing the faces of my clients. I didn’t read all the comments, but I didn’t see anyone expressly making this argument. I actually couldn’t even find an article exploring this side of the argument, so now I’m going to write one! I think I just did. Any professional opinions on this?

  45. 45
    Athina says:

    I like to watermark my photos, if there is someone who really likes a picture they need to know how to find the artist . Now there is certain pictures like a close head shot where i will not put my watermark on , that just doesn’t look right.
    Athina :)

  46. 46
    Athina says:

    I like to put my watermark on the picture so people can look up and find the artist. Now if it does not look right on a certain picture i will not place the watermark . Every picture is different .
    Athina

  47. 47
    Laura says:

    Hi there can anyone give me advice my wedding photographer tells me his computer
    Crashed or something to do with the hard drive
    Which he had to send off so my originals
    Are currently lost and he is unsure if they will
    Be retrieved I gave the copied disc he gave me
    To select photos but they have wTernarks massive
    Bold letters across whole picture he says he
    Has asked several photographer friends with no
    Hope in removing them the annoying thin is
    When the pics are small there is mo watermark
    It is only when you click on image to see it they a
    Appear :( any suggestions or advice would be
    Appreciated .
    Many thanks
    Laura .

  48. 48
    lizzy says:

    Hi, I had a photoshoot and the photographer said that I must add a photo credit with image? Not sure if this makes sense as the its a profile image of me? Is this law? Thanks

  49. 49

    Nice tips about watermarking photos.

    I think the future demands something more interesting like promote your own #hashtag instead an old fashioned copyright.
    I started to do that with #nelsonmochilero and I think it works better.

    Cheers!

  50. 50
    Withheld says:

    There is no simple for/against answer to watermarking. It dependeds ona lot of variables. I don’t sell photos, my goal is to make a name for myself. To me, sharing = advertising. I want people to share my photos, but I also want them to know who took it, and how they can get hold of me, and where they can see more of the same.

  51. 51
    Yvette says:

    HELP!!!!

    I just had a photographer do our family photos. We paid a lot of money too. So we just got the DVD with several photos on it for printing and their watermark is not see-through and it is in white in the middle of each photo.

    All of the photos are high resolution for us to print, so why would a photographer put their mark right in the middle? Also how would I go about asking them to move it to the bottom? We don’t have a problem with their logo on the photos, but now we don’t want to print any of them or use the photographer again.

  52. 52
    Max Krupka says:

    Anything that we put on the internet has a watermark. Anything that we do for free has a watermark. Some people do copy/share the photo and crop out the watermark and do not credit. Most are happy to share as is and credit. If the client is paying for the image we do not watermark but ask for a credit line in the text. Some do and some do not.

  53. 53

    This article is SO perfect; I have been a photographer for 20 years and used to watermark my web stuff. In fact, I had a photosharing website back in 1996 (and still have one called photoshack.com) and I watermarked there. But as my skills grew and I looked at the successful artists in this business, I realized that watermarking made images look cheap, no matter how inconspicuous or elegant in design. The best work today that I admire (and say “wow, I would love to do that!!”) are by photographers who would not dare muck up the viewing experience with “me me me me” logos, etc.

    Now I try to turn around every new photographer or hobbyist who watermarks all their work and convince them to let go of this bad practice. In fact, nobody can tell me EVER that they truly lost income due to someone stealing a low res JPG (stock photography excluded.)

    Watermarking for online print sales makes sense because your order depends on them buying products instead of downloading. Then it can be big and ugly…but you aren’t presenting this to the world as your best artistic work, you are doing that exclusively with your client.

    Anyway, good points, and glad to see the interest from others on this topic. NO WATERMARKING YOUR PORTFOLIOS!!!



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