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Watermarking The Right Way – The Basics

No photographer can ignore the marketing effects of the internet, but it comes, potentially, at a cost.

While posting your photos online is a great way to gain exposure, it also means you open yourself up to the possibility of someone stealing your work.

Most will do it out of ignorance, some will do it for profit, but whatever the reason, if you don’t want to be taken advantage of, you need to protect your photos.

The quickest way to do that is to add a watermark to every photo you post online. A watermark ensures that everyone knows who created the photo and brings recognition for the skill it took to create. You have several options to consider when creating a watermark, and your choices should reflect the reason why you’re posting your photos online.

Text vs Image Watermarks

The quickest way to watermark your images is to add your name or the name of your business. Be careful of the size and position of the watermark, as a viewers eye will instantly be drawn to text in an image which may detract from the overall effect. A text watermark is a good way to go if you’re only posting photos occasionally and you’re not looking to establish a brand identity.

But, if you’re a professional, or just post a lot of photos, you should probably consider making (or hiring someone to make) an image watermark. Image watermarks give a more professional impression, and are an important part of branding. If you go with an image watermark, make sure it scales well, as they can be harder to place than a simple text watermark because they usually take up more size.

Where to Place Your Watermark

Where you put your watermark on your photo depends on why you’re putting a watermark on it in the first place. If it’s just to get proper attribution for your work, you should probably place it outside of the main focus of the photo – while still weighing the possibility that if it’s poorly place, it could get cropped out of the photo easily. To reduce that risk, try in place it in an area of high contrast in a corner of the image.

A watermark that is out of the way like this reduces the impact it has on the overall appearance of the photo.

If you’re a professional photographer whose type of work is based on taking photos for a specific client, like a wedding or children’s photographer, you need a more glaring watermark to prevent theft of any photos. You should consider placing a large watermark in the center of the photo, or tiling your watermark. Don’t go overboard – you need the client to like the photo enough to purchase the non-watermarked version.

General Tips on Watermarking

However you decide to watermark your photos, there are some general tips to keep in mind:

  • The higher the contrast behind your watermark, the harder it is to remove.
  • Don’t scar your photo with a watermark that is too distracting. Decrease the visibility of your watermark as much as you’re comfortable with.
  • Your watermark placement will likely need to change between photos, so watermarking your photos as a batch may not be appropriate.

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