This is totally an opinion piece but I am going to once again bring up the Pandora’s box of asking the question “Should I watermark my images?” Everyone will undoubtedly have an opinion and I’m going to offer mine that it’s totally OK to watermark your images. Go ahead and do it. However there are limits to watermarking your images. I’ve seen some awful watermarks out there and those give all of them a bad reputation. I think there is a good way to watermark your images and I will show my own way of adding a watermark.
But first, let’s talk about why you would or wouldn’t want to watermark an image.
Why You Shouldn’t Watermark Your Images
I will first go in to why you wouldn’t want to watermark your images online. There is only one reason that I can think of right now that holds any water at all. The argument against watermarks that you see online is that it takes away from the image as a whole and makes it look “horrible.” This certainly can be true and I will show examples of this below. However, if done correctly it doesn’t have to take away from the image.
Why You Should Watermark Your Images
There are two main reasons why I suggest watermarking your images. The first reason is that it helps you with any copyright infringement claims. While this is not a replacement for registering your images with the US Copyright Office (or your country’s equivalent), it can help your claims if the infringer removes or crops out your watermark. That’s all well and good, but that’s not the reason why I watermark my photos. Let’s face it, most of us will never have our images stolen and, if we do it won’t be worth it to go after them in court. The costs of lawyers, court fees, etc. will not be worth it in most cases and you probably won’t see much (if any) money.
The reason I watermark my images online is for the simple reason of branding. I want my logo on the image so when people share my photos online such as to their Facebook page or cover photo, my logo is there and anyone who sees the image will see my logo. That helps get my name out there for prints and other photo work.
Wrong Ways To Watermark
The argument that states watermarks harm the photo by taking away from the subject certainly can be valid. Here are a few examples of the wrong way to watermark.
Too Many Watermarks
This photo has my watermark plastered multiple times all over the photo. It’s definitely distracting because no matter where you look in to the photo, you will see a watermark.
Too Large and In The Way
This will show those photo thieves! Those frustrated with people stealing their photos might put a high opacity watermark right smack dab in the center of their photo. This definitely takes away from the image because the viewer needs to look behind this large watermark to see the photo. I don’t know about you, but to me the first thing I see is the watermark and if I came across a photo like this on Facebook or Instagram, I’m going to keep scrolling.
Here is another example of the same watermark. This one is better because it’s a lower opacity watermark, but it’s still too much.
Just Too Damn Big
This one is on the right track to my preferred watermark because it’s in the corner. But it’s just way too big and the high opacity, like above, makes the watermark stick out like a sore thumb. It takes up almost 25% of the photo. Again, I’m going to keep scrolling.
Here is my watermark. I think this is the best way to go that gives you a great compromise over protection/branding and not ruining your photo. I places my logo at a low opacity and small size in the corner of the photo. To me this is no more distracting than when an artist signs the corner of a print.
Should You Watermark Your Photos?
What you want to do is totally up to you. They are your images. I just think there is a better way of watermarking then the “wrong” examples I discussed. I’ve seen people share photos with all these watermarks online and defend them by stating that they’ve had photos stolen before so this is how they do things now.
That sucks that they’ve had photos stolen, but are you going to let that ruin every future photo post? I would hope not because many of the photos are really good! The obnoxious watermark just ruins them.
So my bit of advice is use a watermark, but use them wisely.