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Should Photographers Watermark Their Images?

When hanging out with photographers, e.g. during one of our socials or courses, one question is always a surefire way for head-butting: Should I watermark my images when putting them online, yes or no?

First off, let’s get one thing out of the way: Your customers really won’t care. It’s only photographers who even talk about it. Ok, when I say “watermark”, I am talking about a subtle, tasteful icon or text in one of the image corners, not a huge eye sore right smack in the middle.

Come ON people: We are supposed to create art – what good is it if your clients can’t enjoy it. Sure, there are rare exceptions, like when you run a stock agency site, etc., but that’s not what we are talking about, anyway, right? Right!

So, typically, there are only two reasons why people want to watermark:

  • Theft Protection
  • Marketing/Branding

Let’s have a look at each of them:

Watermarks for Theft Protection

We pretty much answered that one already: We only use small watermarks in an image corner. Otherwise, what’s the point? Nowadays, its way too easy to crop or clone out your watermark, so if people REALLY want to steal your image, they will. There are much better ways to protect yourself, e.g.: Don’t put your high res versions up to begin with? Or, even better: RELAX!


Watermarks for Marketing/Branding

OK – that one, in my opinion, has a lot of merit. Most people, are not photographers or lawyers, and commonly think that just because a picture is out there, they may use it on their blog, website, Pinterest, Facebook, Instagram, etc. And of course they don’t think about giving you credit, come on.

If you can’t beat them, join them!

A watermark, if done right, can help build a connection with your brand. Of course that is only of interest if you have a brand in the first place, or plan on building one. If no one knows your name, the logo doesn’t have any text people can plug into a search engine, you don’t have a proper website that actually comes up first place when people search for your watermark… why do you even bother?

As with everything, ask yourself: Why am I doing what I am doing? Does it make sense? Is it working?

Then make a decision, never look back, and go back to creating the most amazing images out there!

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