Hi team! Dave here for #TravelTuesday again, and this week my congratulations go out to Italy for winning the European Championships over here on this side of the pond! It didn’t come home, but there’s always next time. Personally I think we have some work to do in terms of dealing with hate first, though. But that’s another story.

Shifting the focus back to photography, this week I want to touch on watermarks.

If, like me, you’re a member of any photography groups on Facebook, you’ll notice that the question of whether or not to watermark an image is a good idea. By ‘good’ I mean whether it offers any advantage to us in terms of protecting our photos and therefore protecting us as photographers and creators.

Ultimately the decision is yours. I’ll get straight to highlighting my stance, but I’ll offer arguments for both cases. But mostly mine ;)

Team Yes

The base argument for Team Yes is that applying a watermark to an image, be it bold and aggressive or minimally intrusive on the content, means that anyone considering using an image where they perhaps shouldn’t had a moral dilemma. If they misappropriate our watermarked image they are displaying to the world (or the one viewer, whichever it may be) that they have taken it from elsewhere and it belongs to someone else. The watermark itself may even prevent this from happening in the first instance.

Team No

Team No generally have one of two thought processes. Either they don’t care if their image is stolen, or they will allow it to be stolen and deal with the matter afterwards, proportionally and professionally. I take the latter stance. Images contain metadata and although this can be altered, it takes someone who knows a little about what they’re doing to make the necessary changes and even so it doesn’t change the fact that the copyright belongs to us. There are also reverse image search engines, Google being the simplest to use, that we can employ to find our images if we fear they have been used. This is easy, but quite arduous. We can have this done automatically by using services like Pixar.com to find our images for us and even issue takedown notices or proceed with legal action.

The reason I don’t watermark my images is because I will use these systems to find my images and take action where it’s appropriate. If someone shares my photo on Facebook it’s no biggie deal to me, but if a company uses my image to advertise their services or products it definitely is a big deal and I’ll send them a bill along with an explanation. I haven’t had anyone refuse to settle the bill yet. If I’ve created a photo for a client with any exclusivity, I simply won’t be sharing it and therefore there’s no risk of it being stolen.

Watermarks are horrible looking things that take a lot away from an image I created and I’d much rather deal with image theft than ruin my photos. Looking over the responses to this question on the Facebook groups I belong to it’s quite clear that there’s a strong divide between those who watermark and those who don’t.

So with my two cents, here’s the big question: –

Are you Team Yes or Team No?

Much love

Dave

About The Author

Dave is a travel, lifestyle and commercial photographer, a tutorial and blog writer, and a social media influencer, based in London, UK.

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