Why I Watermark

Bunny GreeneI’ve started watermarking my images. I’ve thought about this for years and at first, I was totally against it. Everyone has seen a lovely image screwed up by an obtrusive watermark and I knew I didn’t want to do that. Some people watermark very tastefully, but on other photos it can be distracting and detract from the beauty of the image.

The main argument for watermarking that I’ve heard is to prevent someone from stealing an image. Stealing isn’t a big concern for me.  I believe that for an artist, obscurity is more damaging than stealing. So while I don’t want folks to steal my work, I do want them to reblog and link back. I want my photos to be enjoyed. In addition, putting a watermark on each image is kind of a pain – an extra step in the process. So why watermark?

Bunny GreeneOver the years I’ve taken photos for writers, artists, models and musicians, and my work has been on posters and in magazines and on lots of blog posts. My work has been linked to and reblogged and posted on forums. Often with credit. Sometimes without. That’s what concerns me the most. It’s not that people are out there, posting photos I’ve taken in their personal blogs that troubles me, it’s that people who genuinely like my work and would like to see more might not be able to find me. As I do more freelance work, being able to attract potential clients gains more importance.

Of course, folks who are really determined can easily edit out a watermark. This isn’t going to stop anyone from doing that. However, many of us have seen an amazing image now and then and though “Who is the artist? I’d love to see more!” Watermarking is going to help those people to find me.

I remember the first time I saw my work in a magazine without credit. I was sad, because that was thousands of people who saw my work without knowing who I was – potential clients and fans who will never find me, who will never know that they could hire me for portraits, or to work on their book covers or who could follow me on Tumblr and just see my new stuff as it comes out. So, going forward, my photos are going to have watermarks – they are going to be small and unobtrusive, and I’ll do my best so that they do not distract from the image, but it has become clear that I cannot rely on getting photo credit for my images – if I want credit, I am going to have to give it to myself first.

Bunny Greene

Model, Makeup and Styling for these photos was provided by Bunny Greene

5 thoughts on “Why I Watermark

  1. That last photo is amazing. The first one is cool too, I like the way her hair contrasts with the wall. The second is awesome too, just the framing.

    Ok, they’re all awesome.

    I do my creative work as a writer, and your reason for watermarking makes perfect sense to me. Having my work out there without any chance of credit would annoy me terribly.

  2. Thanks Kaitlin! Most people are great about credit, but sometimes people don’t do it. Often, it’s not malicious, sometimes folks just don’t think that they need to credit a photographer, or sometimes they don’t know who took the photograph.

  3. That’s not really a watermark, as I understand it. It’s a signature.

    To my understanding, this is a watermark:

    What I see you doing here isn’t a watermark, unless you’re doing one of those highly sophisticated steganographic techniques that makes them mostly invisible except to computerized analysis.

    It’s no different than when my mom writes her name in the corner of her paintings. That’s how art has been done since the 15th century.

  4. Exactly as Nobilis stated. IMHO, I didn’t find your signature in the picture distracting at all and even had to go back up to it and find it after reading the article.

    Something you may want to try is incorporating your name into the picture itself so it looks like it belongs there. Make it the title of a book in the background, or along a street sign or something unique like that.

    Another possibility might be to use a small QR Code in the corner or somewhere in the picture like above.

    Not an artist myself, I don’t know how difficult those suggestions would be so hopefully they are helpful.

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