Most photographers do not like watermarks in their images. Why would you show the perfect balance of your photo with a distracting logo, right? Watermarks should, however, be considered a necessary evil, and photographers and internet users have learned to accept it as an inevitability. In this digital age, stealing someone's image is as simple as "right-click, save as". It doesn't cost much to commit a digital crime and to violate copyright. In my opinion, watermarks are indispensable protection in the photography world.
Why would you put a watermark on your photo?
Watermarking is one of the ways you can protect yourself against the actions of people without conscience or respect for other people's work. Watermarking is not infallible, but it is the easiest defense to implement. Watermarks can also serve as a form of branding or corporate advertising, and so on. A simple watermark can achieve a lot. Today, many individual and business entities (even social media channels) want to be recognized as a unique brand. Why would photographers be left behind as independent artists?
Watermerken heeft een breed spectrum van voordelen en nadelen.
To begin with, watermarks offer modest protection against online theft, because although the watermark may occasionally be trimmed, it is usually not worth it. There are enough that are persistent enough to erase a watermark by healing and cloning it, but this requires a lot of work. If the case of a stolen digital file was brought to court, having an original image with a watermark would be strong evidence against someone claiming to have "found" the cropped image without a watermark.
Another advantage is that you can advertise your business with your watermark: include your contact information, web page, social media accounts, and so on. It can be used to lead audiences to the site where you sell that specific image together with others. Or your information can lead viewers to your booking page. If you like club / concert photography, you can get paid to advertise for different companies in the watermark area of each image. Of course you can also just put your name or signature in it which can ensure brand recognition. With many photos, your name is often seen.
Finally, if your image is stolen but the watermark is not removed, this will work as a free advertisement for you.
I still dream of a file format that allows embedded trackers that cannot be deleted and that controls the traffic and location of each instance. Until I know my wish, watermarks will have to get the job done.
Let's first tackle the biggest and most obvious annoyance: watermarks distract and can get in the way of a photo. Many people therefore hate them and depending on the design they can be really distracting, especially if you use flashy colors, or place them over an entire image.
Then there is the irritating group of purists who will ignore an image if they see a watermark on it. On several occasions I was told something like: "Your image looks good, but I would like you to send me a copy without a watermark so that I can see it properly." I have to explain in my defense that my watermark is in one of the corners of the images and it is semi-transparent. It doesn't even cover 10% of the image, so I know it wouldn't completely obscure the view. Why would I send a person without a watermark on the internet? Is this not the whole point of it?
At the end, the final choice is yours. You can watermark your photos with a small or large sticker, or you can leave the images as they are. If you choose to provide images with watermarks, make sure you have a copy of the original, as you will probably need them again for editing. If you plan to place an image with a watermark online, upload a small resolution. This way, even if it is stolen from you, it cannot be used much.
There is something else that you should consider while discussing this topic and that is to never post images on the internet at full resolution (with a watermark or not). At least you can keep the print profits this way. There are many sites that sell prints of stolen images and it can take years for someone to discover that their images are being sold without their permission. That is a loss that you will probably never get back.
Like I said, I don't like using watermarks, but I feel compelled to do this for obvious reasons. I do it as subtly as possible so the photo is not ruined.
- Keep your watermark simple and monochrome. (No color and minimal use of images.)
- Keep it as small as possible while it is legible. Can you read it well on the long side in 2084? (Facebook format.) The above example is even smaller at 900px wide.
- Use a vertical watermark. It is still readable, but the viewer will not be distracted if he tries to read it every time he looks at the photo.
- Place your watermark on the edge of the photo. Yes, it is easier to cut out, but it serves its main purpose and those who want to delete your watermark will delete it regardless of where it is placed.
You can also order photo logos in various manuscripts via the internet, for example at the website Photologo. They look pretty nice, but after a while they all look alike again. I personally prefer to make it myself. The advantage is that some comparison with production logos is lost. Here under my own logo in large format, on photos it is smaller.