Watermark on Photographs
For a very long time, this question was raiding on different forums and websites, if photographers should add watermark on their photographs, and how this can affect the image of the photographer or business.
Let’s go a bit behind the beginning. What is actually a watermark?
A (digital) watermark is a transparent piece of text or image, usually the signature of the photographer, which is placed on the photo in order to protect the image from stealing.
But lately, the photographers sign their work not only to protect the images but to promote themselves as well, which is the best and the right approach on the market (at least for now).
There are indeed advantages and disadvantages of using it in your work.
Think at the moment you are adding a watermark to protect your images from stealing and to promote your work. When you are adding a watermark to your photo, you are going to brand it. Your photo will now appear on the internet and social media with your name, initials, website or whatever signature you have.
It is kinda pointless to brand your work with your name initials for example or a name different than your website or business name.
As an instance, let’s put in theme my website name, Photornia. If I watermark with the website initials PR, even if is a logo as the favicon, this won’t recognise me as a creator or photographer overall. But a nice eye-catching digital signature with Photornia can make a difference which can remain in the viewer’s mind.
As a result, if the same person further sees more photos with the same signature, the viewer will probably remember who is the photographer (even if nobody remembers me).
Moreover, if my watermark would be like photornia.com in a nice stylish handwritten font which does not push away the viewers, this can bring me further visitors to my website.
But do not get fooled by that. A watermark does not go well with all the images you may have. In fact, a bad watermark can ruin your photographs, in special if you have a high-quality picture with a watermark which does not reach the high standards of the image.
Did you know that having a watermark gets the image to be less shared overall? Not many people want to share on their timelines a photo with a watermark in special, therefore, the sharing and the engagement rate overall will decrease but your profile or website visitors will increase.
Also keep in mind that nowadays with sophisticated programs like photoshop, your watermark can be removed without traces, therefore, if your main aim is to protect your photographs, this is not the best solution. Your photo can be as simple as cropped outside the watermark area. Maybe an extra layer by copyrighting your photos will do better if you are into the budget.
Your images are already copyrighted by you at the moment you took them with your camera, therefore, if there is any dispute behind the stealers of your images, you have your rights for a claim.
The watermark is the modern evolution of a signature on a piece of artwork.
For centuries, all great artists signed their artwork.
In non-photographic cases, a signature on a painting or a piece of artwork can add great value to it.
But speaking about value, how a watermark will act in relation to it? It won’t. It will decrease the value of the photo, in special if you do not own anymore the original image, which could be not a good point to consider.
I remember in the past I was so obsessed with watermarking my photos, that many times I forgot to create an original and clean version of my photographs. Something did happen and I lost about 5 thousand non-edited photographs. It was impossible for me to recover those pictures where I had no clean version.
In exchange, if you do prints and framing, a print with a nice little signature in the corner will add value to that print, but not always. It is really depending on where those are going to be displayed. In a restaurant? yes, that’s great. In a hospital? nop. don’t do that.
In some cases, I am “pro” for using the watermarks, but from my personal experience I’ve noticed that they work the best and the worst in different cases.
Social media. Talking about it, do you want to promote yourself as a photographer and you have your own dedicated Facebook page for those photos? a watermark will be okay with that, in special if you are a portrait or wedding photographer and you want to attract new customers. If your images are getting shared and good engagement overall, this is a very positive approach to new customers.
Imagine someone finding this great shot of a bride, and want to hire or contact the photographer for some photoshoots. The photograph is not watermarked at all. How is that person going to reach for the photographer? In most of the cases, the person can look on the original author of the image, the source from where it got shared. But what about if the source is not you?
For Instagram, what I’ve noticed is that people do not engage that well with a watermark compared to a clean image, but keep in mind that on Instagram there are a lot of fake and unclean accounts which they are stealing other Instagramers images to share on their own profile, without asking you and without giving any credits.
I’ve seen some cases where a travel photograph was stolen from a popular photographer by a travelling agency which made their own advertising after this. But hey, this won’t happen every day, therefore, I still recommend using watermarks on your facebook or Instagram profiles if you take professional photographs.
And think that in the end, the quality of your photographs and work will matter the most. If you know the right audience to reach, why shouldn’t you add a crazy-good watermark?
When I used watermarks for my photos on facebook signed as photornia.com, although I am not popular there (I am nowhere popular lol), I started to notice an increasing amount of direct visitors to my website. When someone types your website name on the search bar, that is a direct visitor, and there is no way you can trace from where it comes, therefore, it is quite difficult to have real analytics about the traffic a watermark can get to you.
Think on the other side about promoting your work on a popular profile, facebook groups and elsewhere, when sharing an image can reach many thousand people. A watermark with your website name can get people back to you increasing the traffic overall.
Here are a few more tips I want to share with you:
- Types of watermarks: It can be your website, your signature, your initials, your name or a combination in between.
If you are going to use WM, make sure you pick the right combination not to ruin your photographs and to be eye-catching, pushing the viewers to engage with your work. I would recommend being something like “Allie Mark Photography” in a nice font, good enough for the viewer to understand the message and to search for you if they need to get in contact with you.
I saw watermarks really hard to read, although they were looking very nice, but impossible to understand. You do not want that. Ensure that you have a clear message if you are creating a watermark and people are able to read it.
Your signature, I would not recommend it. You are not giving autographs on your photographs 🙂 I saw also pictures with a beautiful signature, but nothing more. The same goes with initials, “A.M. Photography” won’t help a viewer to find you, unless your profile or website goes as A.M.photography.
When you write your website, we have to think about marketing as well. If your profile can provide plenty of visitors to your website, it would be a good idea to attract new customers by watermarking the image with the name of your website.
- The size matters! The difference between good and bad watermarks is not only the style and font. Is the size!
Too big and people will dislike it. Too small, nobody would be able to understand that. And it may push people away or to lower the engagement rate overall. Ensure that you add a watermark which is clearly visible on any devices if people are zooming in. Also, consider the fact that if your photographs uploaded are low resolution, as normal, your watermark should be slightly bigger. People won’t be able to zoom into the photo due to the low resolution.
- The style. Make sure that your photographs will have the best signature you can provide
It would be too bad to have an outstanding piece of artwork watermarked with Arial Font with the name of your website. At the moment you decide to watermark your pictures and share them on social media, your website and the internet itself, think about that this will represent your brand. How do you want people to see them?
- Positioning matters.
Some photographers are placing their signature on the right bottom corner, some on the middle bottom, and some on the left side bottom corner.
Rarely you will see WM placed anywhere else on the photos, with the exception the microstock websites which are selling those images and trying to do everything possible that the people’s work is not going to be stolen.
But the usual position of the WM is on the right bottom corner.
How do you place a watermark on your photographs?
Although there are many options you can place the signature, the most common one (which I am using the same) is with Lightroom.
Let’s assume that you have already your PNG image representing your watermark. This will be necessary because PNG is a transparent image and you can mask the background of your watermark.
- You have your Lightroom Classic, and ready to export your images. How does that sound?
- Go to File > Export and go down to watermark and tick the box.
- Edit watermark from within the box
- Now you have your option to write a text and place it wherever you want, but we not gonna do that. You have your PNG, right?
- On the right upper corner, select graphic and browse for your watermark, then open it.
- The next step is adjusting it. You have a whole set of tools helping you to do that, from selecting the position, scale, stretch and so on.
- Now you can export the image.
And now, what about creating a watermark for your photographs at all?
There are many options around the internet including paid and free watermarks. The paid ones can be professionally done by some graphic designers, which is what I recommend for the paid version.
Do not use the websites which can generate you watermarks, think about the price and how many people used the same styles. You want to be unique, not to pay to be like having the same watermark style as 50 other photographers, right?
Going back, the paid version, I would recommend on Fiverr for those services. Find someone who can create something unique for you or your brand name
The alternative is the free option. Google also can find you a few websites where you can create some basics watermarks for free. But also, you don’t need that.
What I mostly recommend you to do, there are two options: Create your own watermark/design it or hire someone who can do it for you.
Adobe Draw on tablets will let you design anything, you can write stylish signatures which can later be exported in PNG transparent version and used as a watermark.
Adobe Spark will let you create different covers, but you can also add a bit more of magic with some fonts, shadows, some icons provided, and so many more options. In the end, you can also export the PNG transparent version.
When to do it:
If your photography is represented by a brand or a business, you can do it. As an instance, as mentioned above, if you are a wedding photographer, clients will find you easier and better knowing who took those pictures.
This technique will increase the overall chance of attracting new clients. and is a marketing strategy.
The same if you are a portrait or event photographer and you are representing a brand name or a business, you can definitely add watermark on your images.
What about if you are a regular person with a normal camera who wants to get somewhere? In this case, it won’t be a great idea overall to watermark your photographs, unless you have a follower database and is a good point to underline the idea of attracting new customers or followers.
Now let’s talk from a blogger perspective. You are not using your images to get more customer, but for your blog posts. If you are following my blog, you notice that I had not used watermarks on my photographs while creating blog posts, although this won’t have a negative impact overall, it can have a positive impact when is about the number of impressions your photos can get in search engines (image tab) like google.
But all those above options I spoke about are treated from a marketing perspective point, therefore, if your goal is to get more people, traffic and customers to your website, then use a watermark with your website name on it for every photo you share out there.
The final decision.
Should you add watermarks on your photographs?
YES if: You represent a brand, business. You are doing wedding or portrait photography and actively looking for more customers. You also have a large social media profile, where your images get engaged and shared.
NO if: Your images will not benefit from having a watermark or it can impact negatively your engagement rate, and you are not looking actively to attract new customers. Do not add watermarks if you do photography by passion and not a business.
Conclusion on adding watermarks on your photographs
Every photographer has a different opinion about watermarks. There is no absolute black and white answer for it.
I’ve seen watermarks on photographs with outstanding quality, while some other photos were absolutely ruined by a pixelate signature with a standard font.
In the end, is only the photographer’s choice to add WM or not on their images. I hope you found this post useful. Please do not forget to share it to help other photographers reach my content.
If you want to read more about it, see this Wikipedia post.
Thank you for reading my post. Have a nice day. Want to have a little read about 50 random photography tips?
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