COLIN UTZ | PHOTOGRAPHY BLOG

WATERMARK ON PHOTOGRAPHS - YES OR NO?

Batfish over Sabang Wreck Sabang In Black And White

The watermark-dilemma! Shall I watermark my photographs or not? I´ve changed my mind several times in my "web-career".

There is one fact: Watermarks are ugly! I´ve never heard someone say: "The image is shit, but I like the watermark!"

So, nobody likes them. Nevertheless, many photographers use them. But why? Here are some of the reasons people state in countless discussions about this topic:

  1. Image theft!

  2. Keep my copyright!

  3. Other artists, like painters, sign their work since centuries!

  4. The watermark shows that I´m a professional photographer!

  5. If somebody finds my photograph somewhere and like to see more, he/she can find me!

To tell you in advance, the only reason pro watermarks for me is point 5. All the other reasons do not convince me.

You can´t avoid image theft. Everything you post can be copied and used by someone else. And if your watermark is big enough to deter thieves, it´s also big enough to discourage viewers and potentional clients. It´s like in the „real“ world. No shopkeeper can stop shoplifting.

The copyright issue is easy! As soon you press the shutter, the copyright is yours for your entire lifetime! And after your death it belongs to your heirs (in Germany for 70 years after your decease).

Yes, painters sign their work since centuries. In photography it´s nonstandard. Photographers usually sign their prints on the back.

Point 4.? I leave this to your own assessment …

So, the only point left is 5. That´s the only point which has a certain value for me, and is the reason why a started to watermark my photographs again on social networks with a SMALL watermark. On social networks, like Ello or Facebook, I want my pictures to be shared and to lead viewers to my portfolio site.

I don´t watermark my photos on my personal website or on other sites where I sell my pictures. Here I don´t want any distracting elements on my images!

Please share your own opinion about watermarks!

EDIT: I´ve changed my mind again! No watermarks at all!