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Those Ugly Watermarks Pros and Cons

Those Ugly Watermarks Pros and Cons

Those Ugly Watermarks Pros and Cons
You have seen them – we all have, watermarks on photos. People have a love-hate relationship with them and I can seriously state from my perspective I dislike them. Today the subject I am covering is Those Ugly Watermarks Pros and Cons.

This is a long read but you SHOULD read it! If you are short on time – read from The Meat & Potatoes of Why I Watermark (YOU SHOULD READ THIS)

People Should Be Able to Enjoy Your Work
We work so hard to capture an image that people can enjoy. After framing up the perfect picture, bringing that treasure home and doing a little post processing on it – the image is ready to show the world. You are proud of your work and want to display it for the world to see.

I Want You to Do Me a Favor
Go up to the main image “Let’s talk about those ugly watermarks.”  I want you to zoom in on the image.  See all my names embedded in there? You really have to look for it in some pictures but it is there.  It shows VERY well if you print out the photo 🙂  But, you most likely noticed only the text I wanted you to read and my name and web address.

Stoneware Wine Jugs

My Thoughts Have Changed on Watermarks Over My Short Photography Career
My thoughts on watermarks have changed of the course of my photography career. Yep, still dislike them, no arguments they are ugly! However, I decided for personal reasons to use them, at least a text version watermark and subtle inside watermarks.

Yep, you read that correctly, using a watermark really boils down to a personal decision. 

Old Typewriter

IMO, you have to decide if using a watermark is right for you and your market.

Color My Bourbon

But I’m going to share a few VERY personal things that have happened to me to change my mind.

Art in Multiple places yields customers of all types.

The Meat & Potatoes of Why I Watermark (YOU SHOULD READ THIS)
The avenue you chose to use your photography in might just have an impact on whether or not you watermark your images when you display them for others to see.

You Get a Little Known
Here is an issue, the more of you and your work you place out into the world, the more chances people stumble onto your works of art—> you REALLY should watermark if you ever plan on selling a photo. AND, if you don’t want to sell that photo, do you REALLY want someone else to?

Snowed In

I had an enjoyable laugh when a guy said he downloaded this photo from a Facebook forum. After a few people had a private convo about my reasonable reply to a very heated debate, this guy decided to test my theory and thought process by downloading and printing my image. He said he had never saw someone place their name in so many places as hidden watermarks, I was a genius. Nope, the guy on YouTube is!  I just found his info when I was searching for a fix –  the link is shared below.

Here Are Some TRUE Examples of What Happens
#1 – You sell on a site that your work is open to the public and you have a wealth of photos. #2 – You share a great deal of photos in an open forum on Facebook or on public setting on Instagram.  Either case and MANY more, you are open for THIS to happen —-> A jerk screenshots your photo, pulls it over into Photoshop, enlarges it (Even if your submitting at web quality at 300 pixels) and then places the image on another selling platform under their name and sells it.

Sue Them!  Sue Them!
At this point someone is screaming “Sue them.”  Another is saying “Charge them an image fee.” and still others are saying get a lawyer.  Guess what peeps, you can’t do ANY of those things.  These people live in a countries that doesn’t transfer OUR United States Copyright. They KNOW what they are doing.

Crappy Work is Out There
Our crappy work can be out there in the world. The over enlarge pixelated, crappy photos!  You can find them included in stock photos, on websites and even a place YOU might be selling on.

Old Fleetwood

What Can A Person Do?
If you don’t care.  You don’t care. I’m fine with that. I have plenty of stuff out there on this site and additional sites that I let people use, play with and build on.  Just as I too, use creative content from additional artists —> everything shouldn’t always be about money.

If you do care that certain things are not used – know this, only a U.S. website will 100% take down your work and you need to provide plenty of proof.  Amazon has been easy to work and even a few image places.  If the website is hosted outside the U.S. forget it – notta, nothing much you can do.

So, Nikki What Have Those Horrible Things Taught You?
Watermark your stuff if you find any value to your name and your art – period.  I would tell anyone that has not had to go through the heartache already to save yourself the feeling of being violated. Your friends will ask you for an image.  A company will ask you for an image. People in general understand why there are watermarks there. 

What System Am I Using?
Photographers this video is how I did my embedded and raised watermark.  No reinventing the wheel post, this guy gets the props. While I wanted to believe in the good of people, it ended poorly.  So, out of the kindness of my heart I leave you the link.  I used his idea and placed in it in at least 3 spots. If someone tries to print they see my name in three different spots in any given photo.


Cons for Using Watermarks

1.) The largest complaint for using watermarks are they are distracting. You have spent all the time and energy into putting your best work out there and after placing a watermark on it – it takes away from the image. Suggestion – Try the idea under what system am I using.  Change the opacity on the watermarks to fit the photo.

2.) They are time consuming. It takes extra time to place that watermark on your photo. Not to mention, you now have two separate images to store on your hard drive. The time commitment does stink.

3.) The customer may not purchase from you because the watermark was a distraction and you don’t play nice with those that want to steal an image for sales and blog posts.—> Nikki has been told she doesn’t play well with others. I play very nicely to those that ask and follow the rules.

Pros for Using Watermarks

1.) You build a brand. People start to see that watermark logo as a representation for you, and your style. They see your watermark and immediately think of you. At a quick glance, I know exactly who’s picture is out there just by catching a glimpse of a watermark logo.

2.) Adding a web address to your photos gives a viewer a place to find you. They can find your home on the web. A place they can do business with you. After all, it doesn’t matter if you are a professional or a hobbyist. The one common denominator that all photographers will agree on is that you want people to see your work. Not just one photo. All of your work! One photo does not define your whole photography presence.

3.) The Internet is public. It is a great tool for getting your work out there and getting you noticed. It also can hinder you. For an explanation of how it can hinder you need to read on.

The Deciding Factors For Me, and Why I Will Watermark Photos.
Do you use a Facebook page that is public? A photography forum page you post on? A fan page for your photography? Google+, etc ? Instagram? Maybe, your own personal website?

More than likely you are not aware that your images are being downloaded and added to a much larger universe. The World Wide Web. Every few minutes, bots are going out and copying and adding photos to a picture search engine. You can delete them but they will be there forever. All search engines do this. Nothing you can do to stop it – except not post a picture publicly.

Once your photo is grabbed, there is nothing you can do to take it back. It has became part of the World Wide Web.

Certainly not important if you don’t care where your images end up or what your images might advertise or represent. If you do, and you want some credit for your work or say in where your images are used, then it might be best to watermark your photos.

5 years ago we did a survey at three local area schools, and 85% of the students and 55% of the teachers thought that anything on Google Images was free to use anywhere they see fit.

Say, what?

Do I have your attention yet?

There are rules in what you can and can’t do, even if cited for educational use. It is important that the rules are read.

I Want to Welcome Them To My Front Door

For me, I want to be in control of where my images end up. When someone comes across one of my images in Google Images or as part of the vast World Wide Web, I’d like to welcome them to the front door of my website to view more of my work.


A picture you took on a random stop on vacation, could just end up being used to represent a large brand if they “know” where to find you and ask.

I Want to Attract Who I Want to Attract
If your images do carry a watermark, it is certain that people do not care to use them in “their” online collections. They will not print them out. That is exactly what you want them to do, shy away from using them. That is not the customer that you want to attract. At least I do not.

The person you do want to attract is the person interested enough to view the rest of your photography. The customer that will embrace your watermark and look at it for the purpose you created it to be, a part of your brand. A brand they want to see more of.

Unmistakably Passed


Your Front Door Opens to Places You Never Dreamed Of
Watermarking a photo leads a customer to your front door.  Who knows?  Maybe you might get lucky have a National Park retweet your photo on social media.  Benefiting both of you in the advertising department. Perhaps, they may even want to use it in a national campaign.  It has been known to happen 🙂  Again, they need to know how to track you down.  My watermark does just that.


Even the gravel roads provide outstanding views and lead to the best wildlife - Badlands National Park.

There Are Just Things You Do For You
Now that I told you the pros and cons as I see them.  You might understand why I took the watermarking highroad for my selling platforms. I studied those Ugly Watermarks Pros and Cons. Decided to use them as a marketing tool.  That was the correct choice for me.

Though, there is no right. or wrong answer.  It is your work and you do what is right for you! No judgements from me either way.  It is a personal choice one makes.

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