Why should you watermark your images?
We live in a digital world where our photographs are shared profusely over the Internet. The two main reasons why I watermark my images are 1) so people don’t steal them; and 2) for branding/marketing purposes.
I share an image to an average of ten sites when I post online. Frankly, it’s really easy for someone to steal an image these days. We’ve all heard horror stories of people stealing photographer’s images and claiming them as their own. I have seen friends’ images stolen and sold for profit or used to sell random products. Some photographers choose to upload images in higher resolution so they fit site specifications and are better quality for viewing. I personally like to resize to the smallest possible resolution to help prevent reproduction of unauthorized online prints. If someone really wants to steal your online image they can. I view a watermark as a form of basic theft deterrence.
Marketing and Branding
From a business perspective, watermarking is also important for identification and recognition. Even if you post at a smaller resolution to prevent images from being printed, you want the general public to know that you took the photograph. It’s your hard work and you deserve the credit. Considering how easy it is for images to be shared and then go viral, you want your name and brand associated with your images so people can track you down. People and pages have re-shared my images without giving me credit. If my images weren’t watermarked, the world wouldn’t know that I took them.
I personally prefer two kinds of watermarks – logo and signature. If you have an established company logo, you should be stamping all of your photographs with it for brand continuity. A subtle yet noticeable and readable logo makes a successful watermark.
The signature seems to be the current trend; this is what I use for my watermark. You can use your actual signature if it isn’t too sloppy or, as in my case, choose a font that had discernible letters. I also include my website address. For those that have illegible signatures, the addition of your website helps with identification and drives traffic back to your site. There are also websites that charge a fee to create a watermark for you if you don’t feel like making your own.
I know watermarks are a necessary evil for some people while others are completely against it. The question I ask you is, “What is your business model?” For marking purposes, I will always watermark my photographs because I want my images to be identified.