Watermarking your images

I very occasionally use a small watermark on my images - but only for my travel blog, oddly.

I recently received an e-mail from Danielle, a reader who was confused that I seemed to post most of my photos online without watermarking them. We had an interesting e-mail discussion, and I received her permission to re-write the discussion into a blog post.

The case for watermarking

Photography seems to be an ever evolving art movement. As quickly as it began, it has undergone many advancements. This relatively new art practice has gone from the camera obscura to cameras built-in to our tweet-enabled, facebooking phones. Anyone has the ability to snap a photo and have it uploaded onto the web within seconds. Mind blowing? Sure. Good for business? Definitely not.

Just as quickly as advancements in technology giveth, they taketh away. Technology has made stealing photos, your sweat, blood and hard work as easy as holding down two buttons. If you don’t properly identify your photographs as your own copyrighted pieces of work with watermarks, you may find yourself hiring ip lawyers to get your intellectual property taken down and back into the rightful owner’s hands. Not watermarking your photographs with some form of logo or even simply a name is putting your work at risk.

Many photographers don’t find watermarking extremely important. In thinking that, you are putting your work out to the world to use as it pleases. Without a proper watermark, you will never know who will copy and use your photograph somewhere else. More importantly, you never know where these photographs will end up.

As a photographer, you should be aware that watermarks are there for your protection and to protect those clients who agree to be photographed. If a client should happen onto an inappropriate webpage or print that includes their picture, they will come to you looking for answers. Will you be prepared to explain the situation? As an artist, shouldn’t you take enough pride in any work you publish to include your name on it?

Some artists misconstrue watermarks as bulky and at times unprofessional looking. What they are not considering is how many different types of software and options there are to create these copyrighting texts for your photographs. Researching just a few watermarking software programs will show you that watermarks can be as simple and elegant or as bulky and obnoxious as you’d like. Of course not many artists would want a bulky addition to their work, but the point is artists have that option.

When photographs are taken out of context or away from the artist’s original concept, the integrity of the work is compromised. As photographers, we should be concerned with maintaining the utmost relevancy and honor in our work. Watermarking photographs might not be the end all to protection, but it is definitely a step in the right direction. All artists should consider taking these steps while they can because it is only a matter of time before the next boom of technology will flip the art of photography upside down once again.

What do you think?

I don't think I agree all that much with Danielle above - I do think that watermarks detract from my images, and I doubt whether watermarking is as much of a deterrent as she thinks. 

What do you think?