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August 8, 2015

Should You Watermark Your Photos? For Photographers

Whether you should or shouldn’t watermark your photos is always a question up for debate. Almost every photography has either a very strong opinion about it, or they just have no clue what they should do about it. I’m somewhere in the middle, where I definitely know what does or does not work for my business, but I wouldn’t force it down anyones throat :)

When I was first starting out, I thought that if I had a watermark on my photos, I would then be a professional. Because every professional photographer needed a watermark, right?? WRONG. I made my very own watermark (I’ve had a lot of different watermark designs over the years…), and I plastered it on every photo I possibly could. I have since learned the error of my ways and repented. ;)

So why do photographers even use watermarks? The goal with a watermark is to prevent theft and promote business. Those are two very good reasons to watermark your photos, but that’s not the end all… Here is exactly what you need to know:

1. Even if you have the biggest watermark in the world, people are still going to steal. You know the saying “a lock only keeps out an honest man”? It’s the SAME THING. Having a watermark may dissuade a regular joe who’s just looking for a photo to print for their wall, but any skilled designer can quickly clone out a watermark. 

2. Though you may be promoting your business, watermarks can be annoying. You may be thinking, “ummm, Emily. You use a watermark on your Facebook photos”, and yes! I do! But that’s because I’ve decided that it works best for my business currently. However I also understand that by having that watermark, it can take away from the photo.

3. Also, never deliver photos to clients with a watermark on them. You remember how your Olan Mills photos had that little watermark in the corner? Let’s never do that ever again.

So watermarks can be good, and watermarks can be bad. Do you feel like we’re not getting anywhere?? Don’t worry, I’ll tie it all up nice and neat soon.

There are some very very bad ways to do a watermark. And I am going to demonstrate them for you!

First, there’s the thought that If I don’t put my watermark right over the subjects faces somebody is going to steal them and make billions of dollars off of my work.


Come on. That’s just ridiculous. Never ever ever put your watermark over faces. BECAUSE YOU CAN’T SEE THEIR FACES. When you look at the picture above, literally all you see is the watermark. It just doesn’t work. And like I said, a skilled designer could quickly clone that out.


Then there’s the I won’t put it over their faces but I’ll make sure it covers up a large portion of the photo so when people see it THEY’LL KNOW I took it.


I’m sorry, but this is pretty ridiculous too. There is literally no reason your watermark should be covering up half the photo!! Can you imagine walking into the Sistine Chapel and seeing “MICHELANGELO” painted across half of it?! 

And third, there’s the I don’t really have a logo, so I’m just going to pick a font person.


Let me just save you some trouble here. If you are currently using a font that came pre-installed with your computer, there’s a 99% chance that every designer in the world cringes when they see your logo. Please, for the love of everything that is good and holy, get a good font. DaFont.com has some beautiful fonts for FREE, so there is no excuse for you now. And if you’re using Comic Sans or Papyrus as your logo, you might as well burn your computer and start over from scratch.

*just kidding, but it is a pretty serious offense


No watermark: 


This is how all the photos on my blog appear. Your eyes immediately go to their faces, and not a watermark! That is exactly the way I want it to be. I’m not at all worried about someone stealing my photos, because honestly, how do they even win that way?? They may have false advertising on their website, but once they start booking clients and delivering different photos, that business will fall through pretty fast. 

And let’s be real for a minute. Maybe somedays I wish my photos were drop-dead gorgeous enough that photo thieves would come from far and wide just to steal them, but in reality that’s not the case. My little blog here is just one tiny minuscule drop in the ocean that is photography. I don’t lie awake at night, terrified that someone is going to steal my photos. Maybe one day it will happen, maybe it won’t. But I’m not going to watermark every single photo ‘just in case’, because it probably wouldn’t work anyway.


And finally, my Facebook watermark:


This is how my Facebook photos appear. I have a small watermark in the corner, directing people to my website. The reason I chose to do this, was because often when I post a wedding preview, I get a few thousand views on that photo! The couples friends will ‘like’ and comment, and I want to make sure I’m getting my name out there. Another huge reason for this is because a LOT of times, the bride, groom, mother of the bride, or just a guest at the wedding, will take the photo and upload it on their page. I think this is great, because I always love when people share! That’s what the photos are for, right?? But Most of the time they will forget to give little ol’ me credit. So with my watermark, it’s directing people back to my site :)

It is my personal opinion that most photos should not be watermarked, because it will distract from the actual photo! But I also believe there are certain times when a watermark can be useful and tasteful. This is something you’ll have to decide for yourself, and for your business!

If there was one thing I wanted you to take away from this post, it’s this: Don’t ever use Papyrus.


2 Comments on Should You Watermark Your Photos?

  1. peter

    August 10th, 2015 at 1:56 am

    In my opinion you should always watermark your photos.It provides online popularity and prevents theft.

  2. emilysacra@gmail.com

    August 10th, 2015 at 11:06 am

    Thanks for sharing, Peter! As I wrote, watermarking images is largely about personal preference. I’m glad you’ve found a way that works best for your business!

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