I have gone on and off watermarking my photos within a years time and now i am back doing it. Essentially, i stopped doing it because Photoshop was chewing up my JPEGs. Though, i figured out why Photoshop was making a mess of my JPEGs and i started to watermark once again. Furthermore, i was silly enough to heed the advice of pf certain “photographers” online. It seems a little bipolar going back and forth like that, but that is what happens in photography at times. You tend to inject a routine into your workflow, but stop doing it because you listen to some prat on YouTube.
A bit of advice: don’t always listen to what you hear or pay attention to what you read on the internet. Don’t get me wrong, there is some good information on the interweb, but you really have to sift through the chaff to get to the wheat.
As anyone else who runs a photographic blog/website on the internet, i am concerned about my photos being used without my permission. As you may know from reading my post about that subject (https://d7100shooter.wordpress.com/2015/01/20/my-photos-being-used-without-permission/), there have been quite a few of my photos that have been “borrowed” without my permission. Because of this, i have constantly been on the lookout for ways to protect my photos. One of those ways that i have been using for a while now, is watermarking.
I started to watermark my photos about a year ago, thinking it would just look cool with my “signature” on my photographs. I really gave no thought about how watermarking would be a deterrent to someone wanting to steal my photos. In all honesty, i never thought anyone would be interested to steal my photos. I was wrong of course.
When i started to watermark my photos, i was putting the watermark in the lower right hand corner of my photos. However, when i inspected my photos more closely, i noticed that there were some weird “artifacting” going on. At first, i did not think much of it. But, as time went on, it started to get to me, so i stopped running my photos through Photoshop to watermark them.
After some time of not watermarking my photos, i investigated how i was watermarking my photos in Photoshop and i noticed that i had set up Photoshop to convert my JPEGs to “high quality JPEGs”. Now, obviously that did not make sense, since the JPEGs i was producing were already of high quality. So, i unchecked that little box. After that, i did not see anymore issues with my my JPEGs and i am now back to watermarking my photos.
Is watermarking your photos going to stop people from stealing them? The short answer to that, is no. Like any other “security” feature, it is but a deterrent for those that are just not determined enough. If someone is skilled enough, they will steal your photo and get rid of that watermark with a clone tool or just crop it out.
Where should you put your watermark?
This is entirely up to you. I am no expert on watermarking, but i would try my best to put your watermark on a complex or busy part of your photo. I say this, because if your watermark is overlaid on top of a solid color in your photo, it is quite easy to clone out the watermark. On the other hand, if you can manage to put your watermark over a busy area of your photo (an area where there is lot’s of detail, color, etc.), the harder it will be to clone out the watermark.
In regards to exactly where to put your watermark, you can put it in either lower corner or in the center of the photo (you can also put it pretty much anywhere in your photo, but the three areas i mentioned, seem to be most common).
Putting your watermark in the lower corners does make it easier for thieves to crop out the watermark, depending on how big your watermark is. Putting it dead-center in the photo, may also cause some problems, mostly with your viewers though. Not everyone likes to look at a photo with a watermark running through the center of it.
How noticeable should my watermark be?
Again, this is entirely up to you. Not being an expert, i would say that you don’t want your watermark to dominate your photo. Rather, you want the content of your photo to be what the viewer is noticing the most. Therefore, i would say keep the font small and make it translucent. Personally, i would stay away from injecting any symbol or logo into your watermark. This will only make it that more noticeable and distracting to the viewer. Keep it simple.
Do i really need to watermark my photos?
No, you don’t have to and i am not twisting your arm to do so. It is just a bit of added insurance and peace of mind to you, the photographer. It is only a deterrent (like a car alarm, house alarm) and not a guarantee that your photos will not get stolen. If someone really wants them, they will take them. For the casual person who just wants a photo of subject x for their blog, they will most likely move on to another photo once they see your watermark though.
“If you don’t want your photos stolen, don’t post them online.”
This has to be one of the most stupid statements i have ever heard. It’s kind of like saying, “If you don’t want your car stolen, don’t park it out on the street.” Wow, do we really need to be blaming the victim here?
Aside from the victim blaming, the people who use this statement need to wake-up and realize that we are in the 21st century. Could someone please tell me how else we are supposed to deploy our photos in a digital age? Sure, we could print them all out and rent gallery space in the artsy part of town, but we don’t all have bottomless pockets. The gallery of the 21st century is the internet, it is WordPress, it is SmugMug. I would love to see these people try and get noticed to any degree if they had no online presence along with their photos.
Lesson: don’t listen to people who are mentally stuck in the 20th century.
Watermarking your photos is not the silver bullet to solving online photo theft. Although, as i pointed out before, it is a deterrent and better then not having anything at all. Be discreet with your watermark and do not take the attention away from content of your photo. Your watermark should be like the Secret Service guy off in the wings. Yeah, you know he is there, but your main point of focus is the President.
If you have not tried watermarking yet, give it a go and see how you like it. Just keep in mind some of the things i have said in this post.
Thanks for looking.
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