In 2015, Watermarks Are Essential to Photographers

Chris Gampat Film photos (19 of 36)

Watermarks: hate them or love them. Folks are on both sides of the coin. Most photographers don’t like them because they’re added in afterwards and take away from the photo. Other photographers love them for branding and protection reasons–and in many cases lots of these photographers have found a way to do them in such a way that it works for the photo. We hesitate saying correctly because there is no way to do it correctly.

The point is that the other day, we posted about Protect the Creators on Tumblr and how creators are banding together to ask Tumblr to support them from having their artwork misused and not credited. But the sad problem is that there are lots of folks out there who don’t care about credit or making sure that artists get their fair share.

And that’s probably the problem to begin with: instead of fighting the growing problem of having our work stolen and used,11 we’re trying harder than ever to educate people about proper credit and being fair about using our photos. Eventually though, we’re going to realize that this isn’t something that we can fight.

Sound crazy to you? No, it isn’t.

This site, day after day, has its content stolen by folks across the US and the world. Bigger sites like ours (and even larger) usually just stop trying to do DMCA notices because they simply can’t fight them all. And yes, we have the same problem. But when something is big enough to us, we will go out of our way to do the DMCA takedown. You can keep doing this for the rest of your life or you can simply watermark the images–which won’t prevent the theft necessarily but it will immediately let folks know that you shot it.

Watermarks don’t need to be big, blaring and in your face. In today’s world you can adjust the opacity and change the text format and even make them look nice. You’d probably want to hire a designer to do your logo but you can also try to make one yourself.

Can you tell that my watermark is on the image above? Probably not, but it’s in the bottom right hand corner. If I wanted it to stand out more then I’d just put it on there with a thicker opacity, but it’s not worth it sometimes for me–and that’s just my opinion.

However, photographers at large should embrace watermarking because it will either prevent theft or immediately let folks know that you shot it. Face it, you’re never going to be able to stop image theft. That doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t try and that you shouldn’t educate people about this, but not taking measures to protect yourself isn’t very smart either.