31 May 2015

Why I Add Watermarks


Philip Avellana, iori, adventscape, NZ, New Zealand, North Island, New Plymouth, bridge, tourism
New Plymouth Bridge

Do you watermark your photos?  If not, why?  It's a personal thing about photographers and there are no right nor wrong answer.  The important thing is, you know what you're doing.



Why NOT to Watermark

Some of the reasons I've read about NOT to watermark are:
  • Distracting
  • Destroys the Overall Quality of the Photo
  • They'll just steal it anyway
  • For total protection, you should not post it on the internet
If you ask me, these reasons are valid.  

If you go to popular photography sites that mainly showcases photos (e.g. Flickr, 500px, Picasa, Photobucket etc), you can find heaps of photos with different types of watermarks.  Some watermarks are tasteful, simple and elegant.  Some are big, bold, distracting and to the point that the watermark is better to look at than the photo itself.  It depends on what kind of watermark you've created.



Why I Watermark my Photos

There are 2 reasons why I watermark my photos:
  • Copyright
  • Branding 
Although they can grab my photo, remove my copyright and watermark it for themselves, at least I did my share of protecting my photos.  I don't fall into that notion of 'they'll steal it anyway'.  

Generally, the photographer owns the copyright of the photo.  This can be used as a watermark as well.  Normally, copyright format is:

© + Year + Name

Where:
  • '©' is the copyright symbol
  • 'Year' is when I published it on the internet
  • 'Name' name of the owner of the photo (photographer / company)
For Windows, hold 'ALT' then press these numbers 1, 2, 6, 9.  Or you can just directly copy that symbol :)

During the course of time, I modified the above structure to be the following:
  • © + Name
  • © + Year + website address
  • © + website address
  • website address
The last bullet point is the one I use today.  I don't want all the clutter - I just want the viewer to know where the photos are coming from (or where I can be contacted, at least).

Branding is actually my main reason why I watermark.  I want those who are interested, not only look at my photo, but go directly to my site.  Yes, I embed my whole website address on my photo.  This ensures that I did my very best to direct traffic on my site or tell viewers where these photos are coming from.  I know website addresses won't look good and might destroy the overall look of the photo (especially seeing the 'http://www') but I'm willing to trade that off for website traffic.




My Current Watermark

There seemed to be many info about watermarking (or properly watermarking) your photo to be displayed on the internet.  I'm not a lawyer so I can't recommend the best one.  But for my purposes the best watermark is:
  • To tell the viewers that your photo is copyrighted (not a free download)
  • Tell who you are
  • Point to your website
  • Tell the viewers where can they find you

So my current watermark is below:




I just got my name 'iori' and my website address.  So if you're really interested to hire me for photography or videography, just send me a message through my website and we'll collaborate.  This is as simplest as I can get it to be.

I can also go for something like this:



This is more formal and could goes along the format above.  I sparingly use this watermark as well.  It's just that, '2015' is a year.  Come 2020, '2015' doesn't look too recent.  Thus I prefer not to add the year on the watermark.  I prefer my photos to look like they're current.



Final Thoughts

It's up to you if you want to add a watermark or not.  But remember to be smart in adding a watermark.  The trade between a less aesthetic photo and site traffic is something to consider, especially if your photo goes viral.

There are many ways photographers watermark their photos.  I watermark my photos as stated above.  I saw other watermarks with more fancier look and more complications (those done entirely in Photoshop)!  As long as you're happy with it, do it.  

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