Why do many photographers still use photography watermarks to protect their photos? Do they really need it? What are the main types of watermarks and where can they be used? Today, I will find out why it is still popular, talk about alternative ways of protecting photography, and explain why you do not need to use the watermarks today.
The digital photography watermarks are an overlaid photo, logo, or text put over a photograph in order to save it from a second using by third parties. I can’t say the photography watermark is an effective way of protecting photos online. There are more effective, alternative ways to protect and promote your photos. But before discovering these alternatives, let’s make everything clear about old-school photography watermarks. While searching for some images for inspiration, you have probably come across photos with watermarks. It can be placed in the right or left corner, and it can be a website logo or its name.
However, it's worth remembering that by default, according to generally accepted standards, the watermark should be translucent, and barely visible, like circles on the water. The sign itself should be implacable, as the image itself is important, and not its authorship. A professional watermark is discreet and not too bright, but a quite discernible sign of authorship.
Despite the generally accepted rules, a lot of beginning photographers make mistakes, putting too big or too visible watermarks in the image, which diverts the attention from the picture. I recommend using free photography logo templates to place a beautiful and professional photography watermark. There are 5 basic and INCORRECT photo watermarks that photographers usually use to protect their images.
1. Marking the whole image
MISTAKE: a watermark overuse; only photography stocks can use this kind of system for watermarking photos
It is the first example of incorrect yaw to watermark photos. In the picture, you can see an excessive amount of information about the photographer, so the aesthetics of the image are damaged, and the first thing you notice is the sign, but not the photo. Despite the fact that the watermark is made properly, it is made in weak colors, and does not stand out very much against the background, but using such a great number of the signs themselves is superfluous.
2. Writing long phrases
MISTAKE: the information isn’t brief and slightly noticeable.
This is the next vivid example of the watermarking photos incorrectly. The tone and font are too sharp and eye-catching, and there is a a large amount of unnecessary information. Do not write phrases or long sentences; remember that a watermark is an understandable piece of information about the creator of the image, which is not conspicuous and does not spoil the aesthetics of the image. Put your photography logo and that’s it.
3. Incorrect watermark placing
MISTAKE: incorrect placement of the watermark and a too-big size.
The text tone and font are chosen well, as it’s not flashy, but when creating a watermark for photography, do not forget about the basic rule that the watermarks should be placed only in the corners of the photo and have a smaller size.
4. Using your logo as a watermark
MISTAKE: big overall size and incorrect colors.
In many images, you can notice the photo watermark made in the form of photographer’s logo. Of course, such watermarking images also have the right to exist. However, there is a violation of some rules in the given example. The colors are rich and bright so that they stand out. The sign is placed on the entire width of the image, and this spoils the impression while looking at the photo as the size of the watermark attracts attention to itself, not the photo. If you have not yet decided on your logo, use these free photography logo templates to design a beautiful and memorable logo for your brand.
5. Invisible marking
In this image, you can see the correctly presented watermark for photo. It is placed in the lower corner, it is not striking, and the tone is chosen properly.
If you want to place a photography watermark on your photos, download these 6 free photography watermarks as Photoshop actions and add them in several clicks. They are fully adjustable and can be used on all photos.
Let’s say you are a photographer and take great pictures professionally, sell them, and make a lot of money. You post them on the web for your portfolio. Having spent much effort and time on it, you do not want your photos to be used by other people for some commercial purposes or photography competitions. For this purpose, watermarks for photographers were created. When you add a sign to your image, it becomes unique and can’t be used by somebody else.
1. The idea and composition of the image is damaged
Many people think that the main disadvantage of the picture with watermark is that it doesn’t look so seamless and harmonious, because the sign distracts the user's attention. In many cases, it also gives the picture a look of some poor-quality thing, but everything depends on the author's sense of style and taste.
2. Watermark can be easily removed
The protective functions of such signs are rather vague, and you cannot perceive them as a real tool against content thieves. You should agree that the name of the site in the corner does not stop those who decide to get your picture. The intruder will just have to spend the time to remove the watermarks or maybe just crop the photo, but it will take no more than a few minutes.
3. Watermarks are not subject to legal protection
Watermarks for pictures are not the objects of legal protection, because it is possible to find hundreds of thousands of “clean” images on the web and mark them with your own signs. Of course, with the copyrighted photo, you can make things right, but you will have to provide more solid evidence than the signs in the pictures.
4. The aggravation of sharing
One of the factors that encourage people to refuse using a photographer watermark is a significant deterioration of the sharing, that is, the use of images in third-party publications, but with backlinks to the source.
5. You cannot use plug-ins to place a watermark
The plug-in can generate watermarks only based on already existing images. This means that you will have to create a watermark for photos in Photoshop with a transparent background, save it in PNG format, and load it into the program. As the plug-in does not have a function of removing previously applied watermarks, you will not be able to cancel the changes in case you are not satisfied with the results. Therefore, to determine the optimal size and location of the watermark, you will have to experiment, reloading the same picture, and then comparing the results every time.
If we’re talking about photography copyright, in the US Copyright Office, there is an opportunity to register almost any of your photographs officially, thereby make a photo with the copyright, which is the legal proof of your possession of the image. The registration of one image will cost $35 on average.
The edited photo is marked separately. The Bureau will pay close attention to this photo and carry out the procedure more thoroughly. The cost of such a service grows to $800 for a user. However, you do not have to register your photo to own it. Right after you close the shutter of the camera, you are already the owner of this picture. In case someone tries to dispute your rights for a picture, such registration will almost invalidate all these attempts. Moreover, a person who has passed the registration procedure immediately has the right to receive legal compensation up to $150,000. The author who hasn’t registered his/her work can also win a lawsuit, but in this case it is more difficult to prove the photography copyright. However, when taking a photo, you should take into account the fact that if the commission discovers any intentional distortion of the information in the filled-in forms, you can be fined up to $2,500, so you need to be very careful and check everything that you write twice.
In the modern world, every photographer who posts his/her photos online takes risks, as the photos can be easily stolen and used for commercial purposes. Regardless of how well you are trying to protect your intellectual property by watermarking your photographs, if an intruder is serious about possession of your photos, it may be difficult for you to resist and cope with this problem. Alas, no one has come up with an absolutely reliable way to protect photos published online.
However, despite this, today I will tell you some alternative ways to protect your images, thanks to which a person will have to work hard to steal your photos.
Upload a reduced image to your page or website. That is, not in a full-scale size, but approximately 400x600. However, do not use the code to reduce the picture. For instance, a full-sized 12MP image can be reduced with simple HTML code and it will look smaller, but in fact, it will be a high-resolution one. You can just reduce your photo in any photo editing software and upload a copy to the site. Thus, you will not only protect the image from copying but also improve the productivity of your website without watermarking your photos.
Use a high degree of picture compression. Try to make the image as compressed as possible. It will still look beautiful, but, as a result, the thief simply won't be willing to copy and use such an image. The picture will be very poor-quality for work and printing and will be of no interest for the potential clients. However, it is worth remembering that you can always leave a message on your website that a high-resolution image is available on individual request. In such a way, you will let your potential customers know that you have this image in a good quality, and a compressed copy is provided on the website in order to protect it.
Do not forget that the profile in Google+ is also an alternative way for watermarking your pictures and, using it, you cannot protect the image from theft, just prove that you are the author. So, any image can be linked with a personal or business account in Google. In the case of plagiarism, the Google bot will show your first and only authorship, and the perpetrator will be penalized.
There is another good and easy way to surprise the intruder without using a photo watermark. You can add a transparent image on your photo. For such a method, we need Lightroom or Photoshop. It is quite easy, so there is no need to have special skills. Putting a transparent layer is a simple task: create a transparent image of the same size as a unique picture and put it in the foreground using HTML or CSS. The image will not differ from the rest on the page, but after saving it, the plagiarist will see only the top layer on the computer instead of the desired one.
Based on all the information I told you, I think that the answer to the question of should I watermark my photos is obvious – it is NOT necessary to do. The main reasons are that you are not legally protected anyway, and the watermark can be easily removed in almost any photo editor.
Hi there, I'm Ann Young - a photographer, photo retoucher and of course, journalist. Here on FixThePhoto blog you can find all of my reviews, photography and photo editing tips, pricing guides, and photography experiments.