Photographers often watermark their images out of fear their work will be stolen or as a way to promote their business. I long ago chose not to watermark mine and here are my reasons why. I’ll start with theft.
You may wonder who would want to steal someone else’s wedding pictures or portraits. The obvious and immediate person that comes to mind is the client who doesn’t want to pay for the digital rights or prints. I put my images on the web across various platforms such as my website, custom apps, Facebook and Instagram without watermarks, but because they are designed for web use, they have a very low resolution. These images will not print well at all and if you zoom in, you can see the low resolution. The only time this really gets to me is when I see a client reposting with their own filters or editing, causing me to scream at my computer, “That’s not the way its supposed to look!”. Then I take a chill pill and remember a time when I saved this image to pinterst: Alicia Savage B&W. I fell in love with it. Then, I was honored to be in the same gallery show as her in Boston and saw the real image: Alicia Savage in Color. It was breathtaking and I couldn’t believe someone altered it and put it out there completely different than how the artist intended. How she handled the situation is unknown to me, but, I remind myself that in the big picture (teehee!) its not really a big deal.
Other photographers, or rather wanna-be photographers, will steal pictures. I thought this was a problem few and far between until a friend tipped me off to this site: www.stopstealingphotos.com. Yikes! I don’t worry about this too much because the people who rip off the work of others are just hurting themselves.
The other reason photographers watermark is to market themselves. Have you ever seen an image on google or pinterest and been unable to find the creator? I have and its irritating! I remember a few years ago when a bride described in great detail a picture she had seen that she deeply wanted to replicate. It was soon obvious that it was my image she was describing. But, she had looked at so many wedding photographers that they were all starting to merge in her mind. If I had watermarked that image, she probably would’ve gone on to see more of my work and you never know; maybe she would’ve decided to hire me as her wedding photographer. However, I feel like I would’ve lost more weddings had I watermarked them and here’s why: Take a look at these two pictures:
With the watermarked image on the bottom, I don’t look at the passionate moment just before the kiss or the way the light gently graces the bride’s veil. All I see is that annoying watermark. And for me, thats the bottom line. I want the viewer to really enjoy my pictures and I feel like a watermark creates a barrier.
What do you think about watermarks? Let me know in the comments below!