How do you utilize Watermarks, and what’s your rationale behind it?



  • Paul CloudPaul Cloud Glenwood Springs, COPosts: 1Member
    I am currently struggling with theft, un-authorized use and manipulation of my images and I really don't know what to do. Until last night, I had been placing my signature in the bottom right corner of each photo. This watermark is clear to allow the viewer to see the entire image and frosted with a drop shadow to still be visible. As a last attempt to keep my images from being used without my permission, I started putting the watermark in the center of each image. This morning, I got up and checked my emails and found several of my regular visitors are not happy with this change.

    Here is my watermark in action:

    Here is the reason I feel it is necessary:

    These photos are now cropped differently than I intended and appear to be "soft" and low quality.
    I have filed a DMCA with Twitter and the theft and manipulation still continues. Until yesterday, I was not even given photo credit.

    QUESTION??? - If a photographer posts photos to their own website, do bloggers/writers have the right to grab those images and use them if the photographer is given photo credit?


    Thank you!

  • Kevin FratesKevin Frates Posts: 9Member
    I don't use watermarks. I hate the thought of someone stealing my work but on the other hand I don't want to ruin the experience of 99% of honest people who take the time to visit my photographs including my friends and family. I do keep my eyes out for thieves and I have found one company that used a photograph of mine on their website down in Los Angeles. I threatened a lawsuit so they quickly removed it. I am sure if my complete livelihood depended on my photography income I would feel differently but as a hobbyist/part timer I can't justify it.
  • Greg TownsendGreg Townsend LondonPosts: 5Member
    I never use watermarks for the reasons mentioned, they ruin the image and draw the eye in the wrong direction. And they really don't stop anyone stealing my work who would otherwise have paid for it. I can't put it better than the great Trey Ratcliff
  • Geografpix PhotographyGeografpix Photography Posts: 164Member
    edited March 2015
    I have a love hate thing about watermarks. I hate seeing them on my images and would prefer not to use them but there's little doubt that watermarks are a fundamental and important way photographers can help reduce theft. Of course nothing is perfect and it can be possible to crop out or otherwise remove a watermark if someone is determined to steal the work.

    The biggest issue with copyright enforcement, according to the lawyers, is proving it's your own work. If your watermark is on the image it's a theft deterrent right away, it's one form of proof that its your work and if someone does use it illegally it can improve your chances of being able to do something about it. There's no way I'd use watermarks on a print that is sold, but it does seem necessary to use them for online displays.

    We operate an online store and pride ourselves on our great product photos. Unfortunately lots of our competitors also liked them and happily helped themselves to them. Our photos are very easily distinguishable as our own, even without watermarks, and we were not at all happy to see them popping up on web sites all over the world. We succeeded in having most of them removed from the offending web sites because of that distinguishably. We then started watermarking all our product photos and since then none of them have been stolen (yet). Therefore, it certainly appears that a watermark is an effective deterrent.

    I do think that Zenfolio should make the watermarking in their system available on ALL PLANS so any of their customers who want to use it can do so.

    It's fair enough Zenfolio charging extra for more storage, shopping carts, etc, but expecting people to pay for a high end account, if they don't need the shopping cart, just so they can have watermarking is a bit rich. Without choosing the more expensive Zenfolio plans, the only way is to watermark our own images in Photoshop and only upload those to Zenfolio.

    If Zenfolio think about it, not enabling watermarking for all their customers is probably counter productive to their own business. For example if someone has a great collection of photos, all watermarked in Photoshop, and they decide to upgrade to a more costly plan so they can try their luck selling some photos with the shopping cart they have to re-upload every single photo with a non watermarked version then set up the Zenfolio watermarks, a right pain in the backside. Likewise, the opposite is also true, if people find the shopping cart is not earning its keep, downgrading their Zenfolio plan also forces them to re-upload every single photo with a watermarked version, also a pain in the butt.

    It would be so much better for Zenfolio customers, and probably Zenfolio too, if the watermarking system was there for everyone to use regardless of plan choice. Its rare for any business that reduces customer frustration to not enjoy an improvement in their business.
    Post edited by Geografpix Photography on
  • sbrent40sbrent40 Posts: 1Member
    I always use a watermark as a signature. Online portraiture I use it just below center so they cannot copy the image, as some have actually done. Prints always have a watermark or signature just like an artist with oil or pencil. It should be unobtrusive yet visible. There is nothing wrong with "signing" your work. It is your work and others should not be stealing it or taking credit. I do not understand the aversion to signing ones artistic work. Keep it unobtrusive though. The art/photograph is what matters. Also, unsigned work becomes public domain.
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