It seems that people fall into one of three categories when it comes to the topic of watermarks on images. You have those who think they are hurtful, those who think they are helpful, and those who are just over it and don’t really care anymore.
Watermarking is as old as paper itself.
The practice of watermarking to protect documents
and such dates back to the 13th century.
Cartiere Miliani is credited with the earliest watermark
As I was creating a new watermark for D the other night, and creating something new to use on my own photos this morning, those little voices were whispering in my head. You know the ones… they repeat the comments you’ve had on your blog that say things like “watermarks make your photos look horrible”, they remind you of the article you read that said “watermarks are easily removed by the ‘photo thief’ “, and they bring to mind that remark you heard about how “watermarks just make you look arrogant and self-centered”.
Those all may be true [dang those little voices] and even the most awesome photographers aren’t really using watermarks much these days; but there are some good reason to keep using them too.
Good reason number 1. Branding
Let’s say someone wanted to use your image on their own blog. No a watermark isn’t going to stop them, they can still take a screen shot or copy the image in their favorite way, but with the watermark on it at least your branding will be spread far and wide!
I don’t mind if someone wants to share one of my photos online. In fact I’m happy to know someone likes it enough to do so! But like the big guys at Dreamstime, Fotolia, 123Rf and the like; I’ll just keep adding a watermark to my online photos. At least when it is shared others will know where to go if they’d like to use it themselves in a way that will remove the watermark; i.e. purchasing a license.
Good reason number 2. Out The Photo Thief
When someone pays for a digital download to use on the web, or for a print to hang in their office, that watermark will not be there. If it is you can be sure they didn’t really pay for the use of that image; or create the image themselves as some would have you believe. If that watermark is on there they didn’t have permission to use that photo. And if it was their own photo it wouldn’t have someone else’s name on it.
Good reason number 3. Credit
No one thinks twice about the painter signing his work, why shouldn’t our work be “signed” in this digital age as well. Yes it will have to be done differently to give your work that little protection but it’s basically the same idea. Give credit where credit is due.
And as far as those who will take that extra step to remove a watermark… well there are always those who will use their powers for evil instead of good. What goes around comes around and their actions will come back to haunt them someday. After all you know what they say about karma!