It’s impossible to understate the importance of protecting your work, especially when sharing that work online. You know, the Internet…where a few too many people are happy to take whatever they want and reuse it for their own benefit.
Anytime you read a horror story about a photographer having an image stolen, it’s almost a given that a discussion (argument) about watermarking is going to permeate the comments section.
It’s the Internet, remember?
But the topic of watermarking is one of legitimate consequence, regardless of where any individual might stand on the issue.
I’m not going to advocate for or against watermarking, but for those who are wondering whether they should watermark their photos I will present some pros and cons aimed at helping you make an informed decision.
Read on for the pros and cons of watermarking your images.
Pros Of Watermarking Images
- A watermark is a marketing tool. When you share photos on the web you really have no control of how far and wide they’ll spread, so it helps to make your work easy to identify. A watermark acts like your personal brand logo and could possibly bring in more traffic/clients.
- A watermark helps you maintain creative control. If you want to discourage your clients from downloading and printing their own (low resolution) photos, a watermark in the center of an image will achieve that.
- A watermark is a signature. Some photographers, like painters, feel the need to “sign” their work.
- A watermark prevents theft. Everybody who has ever used the Internet knows that image theft can be carried out in two steps: Right-click, Save As. Adding a watermark to your images will serve as a visual cue that your work isn’t up for grabs.
Cons Of Watermarking Images
- A watermark can be removed. I know, we just talked about watermarks being a theft deterrent, but their effectiveness in this capacity is inconsistent at best. Why? Mainly because watermarks are easy to remove. They can be cropped or Photoshopped out in a matter of seconds.
- A watermark is distracting. Some people will perceive your watermark as a foreign element or an eyesore and they will lose interest in your work.
- A watermark has no inherent legal value. If someone were to steal your image and benefit from it financially, you might not have much trouble taking them to court, but getting real justice is a long shot. A watermark alone won’t rescue you.
- Watermarks are ugly. Ok, they’re not all terrible but people have a tendency to overdo it when creating watermarks. A poorly crafted watermark can convey anything from ineptness to arrogance.
When it comes to whether you should watermark your images, there’s no right or wrong answer. If you’re going to use a watermark, my advice would be to keep the design simple and don’t place too much stock in it as a legal aid.
If you have no interest in adding a watermark to your images but still want to protect your work, you can turn to invisible signature software such as Icemark or Digimarc. And, of course, for added protection be sure to add your copyright information to the metadata in your images. This can be done easily in any pro-level photo editing software.
Finally, if you truly want to eliminate all possibility of having your work stolen, don’t share any of it online.
Do you watermark your images? Tell us why or why not in the comments below.