Greetings, you’re listening to the Liam Photography Podcast, I’m your host Liam Douglas and this is Episode 278. In today’s episode I want to talk about a topic that comes up quite frequently in the photography community and that is whether or not to watermark your images especially when sharing them online. This is a polarizing topic in photography with some saying you should always watermark your images and others saying never watermark your images as it detracts from the actual image. In today’s episode I want to cover some of the reasons both for and against watermarking your photos.
So, what is a watermark, well it’s generally a small text or graphs logo representing you as a photographer or your photography business that is overlayed on top of your images using opacity so that is it semi-transparent. Most photographers that do use a watermark put them in one of the bottom corners of their images and they usually include a copyright and logo and the year the image was made. An example would be Liam Photography ©2022.
Now the reason many photographers do like to use watermarks on their images is to prevent image theft, although it’s questionable whether or not that actually deters theft since most of the time if someone does want to steal your images they will just crop out the watermark or use Photoshop’s Content Aware tool to remove it that way. If you use a watermark that goes all the way across the center of the image than you are fairly certain to prevent theft as that kind of watermark would be impossible to get rid of, but it also detracts from the beauty of the image itself, kind of like a large blemish. Imagine the horror of getting ready to go to your prom or a wedding and the morning of a large pimple breaks out on the end of your nose kind of thing!
Because that large watermark is to intrusive to the image it will hurt it’s view ability on the web so it kind of defeats the purpose of sharing the images online to begin with. Now including a watermark in your images can make it easier to claim for damages if someone does steal your images and use them without permission, but this does vary from country to country as well so keep that in mind. In the U.S. if you watermark your image and someone steals it and removes your watermark it proves that the copyright infringement was intentional and this allows you to claim up to $150,000 per offense.
Another reason that photographers might want to watermark their images is as a way to market themselves to prospective clients. By using a watermark, it makes it easy for the viewer to see who made the image and easier to reach out to you for their photography needs. And of course most businesses brand all their products, such as clothing or sneaker makers or makers of electronics, they always splash their name all over their products, so why shouldn’t you do the same?
And if your watermarked images are used without your permission, you are still getting some free advertising from the use as everyone will see who made the image anyway. Even though the point is somewhat debatable, a nice, elegant watermark can really boost your brand by making your work look even more professional so if you do choose to watermark your images it might be a good idea to pay a graphic designer to make you a really professional looking one that will make your images stand out. Consider that a poorly designed watermark can make your work look less professional and hurt your brand and your business by making you look more amateur.
In a way a watermark is similar to a painter signing one of their paintings when they complete it, but remember that although an art collector prefers signed art as it increases its value, most people do NOT want signed photographs as it takes away from their beauty and value and they will not be very happy if you attach your watermark to the final images that they paid good money for.
One aspect that may help you decide whether or not to watermark is the style of photography that you do. Watermarks are common in portraits and usually placed in the out of focus “bokeh” area, but remember that also makes them easier to remove. With an image like a landscape where everything is in detail a watermark is going to cover up some of that detail in your image.
Portrait photographers often find that a watermark helps them with brand promotion because if a client shares your images amongst their friends and family then all of those prospective clients will see their brand and know who to contact when they need photography services. With landscapes, on the other hand, they are generally sold as large prints and when sharing them online it is kind of pointless to watermark them as the compressed version of the image online is not going to translate into a big, beautiful print that can be hung on someone’s wall.
Additionally, keep in mind that adding a watermark into your images in an additional step in your workflow and although some programs like Lightroom can make it fairly easy, most photography editors do not so you are also creating more work for yourself. The placement might not be optimal from one image to the next so you often times have to spend additional time re-positioning the watermark to make it look right between landscape orientation and portrait orientation images. When it comes to creating and applying a watermark to your images, there are many tutorials online that you can find and most likely a few for your preferred photo editor, so you shouldn’t have too much trouble there.
In the end there is no “right” or “wrong” when it comes to watermarking your photographs. There are good reasons both for and against it, but let me leave you with this final thought, if you do watermark your images, try to use a watermark that is professional and elegant that will promote your brand as a professional photographer!
Also be sure to join the Liam Photography Podcast Facebook Group https://www.facebook.com/groups/liamphotographypodcast/ You can reach the show by call or text @ 470-294-8191 to leave a comment or request a topic or guest for the show. Additionally you can email the show @ email@example.com and find the show notes at http://www.liamphotographypodcast.com.
You can find my work @ https://www.liamphotography.net on and follow me on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter @liamphotoatl. If you like abandoned buildings and history, you can find my project @ http://www.forgottenpiecesofgeorgia.com. and http://www.forgottenpiecesofpennsylvania.com.
Please also stop by my Youtube channels Liam Photography