The Quandary of Watermarking

July 08, 2013  •  Leave a Comment

Since I started to grow into my own photography style, spend countless hours with my nose in the textbooks, experiment with various techniques, and visit the same location multiple times to try and “get it right,” I have become attached to my images.  Those images are “my children” in a sense.  I am proud of the portfolio that has developed and am eager to add improved images to it as the years march onward.  I mean, who isn’t proud of the images they post, and who isn’t constantly trying to improve their skills?  Is that not the entire purpose of trying to make it in the professional world?  I know my goal is to produce amazing images, share them with the world, and then wake up the next morning and capture even more stunning images than I did the day before. 

After an outing with my camera and tripod, I jump onto my computer and spend time downloading all the images, culling, cleaning up the selected ones in Lightroom and Photoshop.  At last, I am ready to prepare the image… wait for it… to share via the Internet with the world.  Although the moment I hit the upload button, that image is gone.  It can be tweeted, shared, pinned, liked, tumbled, grammed, plus-ed; well, you get the idea.  While those social media outlets are great for sharing your work, they are not the best at pointing those new viewers back to you, your contact details, your website, your business.  Therefore, at the risk of muddling my images, I have chosen to watermark them.  I try to keep my watermark simple so it does not distract too much from the image.  I know there are plenty of people out there that will try to remove the watermark with software or simply crop it out of the image.  However, the majority of the destinations that my photos will reach with each journey it takes from my original post will have my watermark.  It will be, in a sense, free advertising for my business.    

For the longest time, I have been uneasy with that decision.  Every so often, I start to think about removing the watermark or changing it.  I think about what steps to have to take to protect my copyrights – heck, what really are my rights?  I’m not a lawyer. I don’t have the greatest grasp of “legalese.”  What should I do if I do find my photo out there on the World Wide Web used without my permission?  Then, I become overwhelmed attempting to research the topic finding more opinions than facts and decide to deal with it another day.  It’s quite the vicious cycle I have created for myself, and one that I’m sure other photographers, both new and old, struggle with as well.  After every trip down that rabbit hole, I feel exactly like the image below - overwhelmed, somewhat defeated, and all bent out of shape.

Recently, I read a very thought provoking, well written, and humorous blog post from Ian Plant entitled “Photography, Copyright, and the Internet.”  As a former lawyer and an amazing photographer that has many more years of experience in the professional realm than me, I point you to his blog post for insight.  This post helped me come to terms with my decision to watermark as well as provided anecdotes to assist in better time management decisions when it comes to dealing with copyrights and my photos.  I hope it does the same for you.

Yes, this is a blog post that points you to another blog post.  I know when to admit someone else wrote on a topic with excellent insight and did it more eloquently than myself. Enjoy!



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