3 Tips to Ruin Your Photo with a Watermark

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Strange as it may seem: photographers, who should be highly creative persons with fine artistic taste tend to be bloody awful designers.


But don’t get me wrong here. I’m not expecting someone to be able to design me an outstanding corporate logo just because he is a great photographer.

But the massacre begins even at the level of watermarking their own photos!

Here’s a piece of really bad advice to ruin your $10 000-worth-photo (who knows?) in a second:

1. Be greedy

How much space can your watermark possibly take? I think I may use an even bigger font size if I tilt it to 45 degrees.

Now your photo is 100% safe from viewing!

Now your photo is 100% safe from viewing!

2. Be generous, but still give your watermark a royal place in the photo

You can’t afford anyone to miss your proud name on the photo! It should have a premium spot!

Yep, the rule of thirds is the way to go -

Yep, the rule of thirds is the way to go – makes a photo and a watermark a unified piece of art

Why stop here, you can take your photograph to the next level:

This is how you make your photo "tell a story"

This is how you make your photo “tell a story”

3. Be creative with the frames and stuff

Who knows, maybe your friends will start thinking you’ve quit your photography career to become a postcard designer?

I bet you can easily imagine a place for address and a stamp on the flip side

I bet you can easily imagine a place for address and a stamp on the flipside

I’ve played with fonts, colors and frames for quite a while, but I decided to keep the other results to myself as some of you might get a seizure seeing this.

Pretended Modesty

But seriously, even if your watermark is small and you’ve placed is somewhere at the bottom, it still catches the eye and can pretty much become the main point of interest in the photo – and do you really want that?

Much better, but still the eye stumbles on it

Much better, but still the eye stumbles on it

And besides, you should never place your watermark horizontally – because in such case a viewer will instantly read it – just the way he reads any horizontal text.

And the only case when there should be text on your photograph is when you took a picture of it :)

So always remember: if you need to place a watermark on your photo, make it visible only to those who look for it intentionally:

Finally I can enjoy the actual photo!

Finally I can enjoy the actual photo!

At the end of the day I think I should start collecting those hilarious watermarks on my hard drive. This collection may turn into an awesome “showcase of stupidity” article one day. Do you have any photo watermark ideas to share with me?

PS: This post was inspired by famous russian designer Artemiy Lebedev

PPS: Imagine you see this in Louvre…


George Bailey

George is an enthusiast photographer who focuses on both studio and outdoor photography, always seeking interesting and creative shooting and retouching techniques.
  • Jill Caren

    I could not disagree more with this post. Maybe years ago a vertical watermark in the corner of an image may have been OK but in this day and age with digital theft at an all time high – some even for monetary gain there is no way I will not have my watermark a prominent part of my image. That last image is just way too easy to steal…any novice can crop out the logo and use it as they see fit. I just think this is poor advice, sorry.

    • http://bloggerjet.com/ Tim Soulo

      Hey Jill, thanks a lot for your comment! We’re having an article on Photo Theft coming real soon. I think you’d be interested to read it :)

      This very article is not about protecting the images that you’re trying to sell or smth. It’s about leaving your work of art intact.

      What would you say if the famous Mona Lisa had a huge watermark “by Leo Da Vinci” across it? :) (I guess I want to add that to a post lol)

      • Kevin Flick

        If Leonardo Da Vinci were alive today and selling his work, an online preview would probably have a watermark. When the Louvre purchased it, they would be provided the art for display, without a watermark.

        • Larry Stauth

          The web image would be limited in size, first and foremost.

          I always find it more surprising how many people upload 3000 pixel by 2400 pixel images for web displays…

          Want to make it useless, use the large watermark, bring the opacity down to make the main image show though (blend better). Then BEFORE you upload for gallery, resize for web.

          If you use Photoshop, use the “save for web”, If you are using Lightroom, just adjust the export settings.

          A 10″ wide, 300 dpi looks just as spectaular on a monitor at 640px at 72dpi.

        • http://www.facebook.com/daniel.cutter1 Daniel Cutter

          And while photography is allowed in the Louvre, it’s prohibited in that room.

          • John Aspden

            And while photography is prohibited in that room, it doesn’t seem to stop the hoards of tourists wielding their cameras/phones in front of the Mona Lisa.

      • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=608302612 Lori Hoddinott

        there’s a photographer’s group on facebook that has all kinds of info on phto theft called Stolen Photo Reports … all photogs welcome to join.

      • Larry Stauth

        I think maybe best thing you can do next is why site added “flash” watermarks do nothing to prevent theft when the end user does not have flash installed, like iPhones and iPads.

    • http://www.facebook.com/tim.gilbreath.75 Tim Gilbreath

      I think it all boils down to what the purpose of the photo is; if we’re talking about making serious money off of your images, then of course you’ll need to be a little more vigilant about your watermarking.

  • Durango CO Photographer

    My watermarks used to be small in a corner, but after having people crop out the watermark and posting it on facebook and printing them, my watermark now goes somewhere so it cant be cropped like across their neck.

    • http://bloggerjet.com/ Tim Soulo

      people are posting your photos on Facebook and printing them.. shouldn’t you be happy about this? or it’s all about the money side of things?

      • Carrie

        I’m not happy if people are printing them off facebook but not paying me for the print. I have a HUGE problem with that. I post the low res file on facebook, but people still try to print from that and it looks horrible. You’d think they’d pay for the actual print, but no. People are fine with crappy low res prints if they didn’t have to pay for them.

        • http://www.facebook.com/chad.ford.7777 Chad Ford

          Exactly! Sometimes it is ALL about the money. I spent a fortune on education and equipment and I too expect a huge return on my investment. I hate it when people try to make me feel guilty about not wanting people to STEAL my images. Watermark the shit out of those images! I had someone spend hours with a bandaid tool taking my watermark off. It was all over their faces, necks, hands, eyes, background, and it stood out. Once I told him about the $25,000 dollar fine the Federal Government slaps you with for even daring to crop the mark out, much less repost it somewhere. Even Facebook. People are like “Oh it is just Facebook.” Facebook has over four times as many users as the U.S.A. has citizens. Steal my image and portray it as your own in front of over a Billion users. NO WAY!

        • Joe

          Right? So silly, people just don’t think logically sometimes, it’s sad quite actually

      • http://www.facebook.com/people/Andy-Austin/739253786 Andy Austin

        So you’re happy when someone steals your photo, posts it without any identifier back to you and even prints it? Obviously we all love what we do, but we also need money to survive. If someone prints one of my photos then I get nothing.

      • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=177801859 Kurt B

        I used to be happy about that, but after numerous findings of my photos being used without permission (AND my small watermark in the bottom getting cropped out), it’s getting on my nerves lately.

      • http://www.facebook.com/trenelle.doyle Trenelle Doyle

        I get the point that you are trying to make, but that only works when the client isn’t copying them off their private gallery that I gave them access to. Keep in mind that the gallery is to view photos so that you can order them… which is in the contract that they signed. Business is business.

        • km

          Make the private gallery watermarked as well

        • Bob

          I give them a price and give them the photos. I get them to sign a release so I my use some in business advertising. If they pay me to take shots of them, the photos are theirs.

      • http://sohailsk.zenfolio.com Sohail Khwaja

        C’mon, seriously? You want artists to be happy just because their photo is being used? If people are leaving watermarks in place, then at least the consolation is there that your name is out there; but when people crop out the watermark and do not credit the photographer, then isn’t that theft?

        • Katie

          Exactly. If you applied that sort logic to ANY other situation everybody would laugh at it. Think about it. If I walked into my local home decor store, grabbed a vase, and didn’t pay there is no doubt that it would be called stealing. The argument that “well I like this vase, I think it’s pretty, so you should just be happy that I want it” would be ridiculous. Why do people think that because a good is digital that somehow makes it different?

          • http://sohailsk.zenfolio.com Sohail Khwaja

            Great example Katie!

          • Josh_Ellis

            Well, you could just do what the movie industry and big-label music industry does: sue and make even more money off of them. Whining on the internet or slapping watermarks all over everything isn’t gonna get anything done.

          • Ben McEntire

            We could even proudly give a byline (little sign) that says from Pottery Barn or something ….

      • ryan estes

        Frankly, for those of us whose career is in photography, people printing our images without paying for them is… well, it kills our ability to make a living. Watermarks may not prevent people from doing this, but it discourages it AND it makes it so that people know who took the photo and perhaps eventually hire us themselves.

        Is it all about the money? Well I certainly love photography, but this IS how I feed my family.

      • Wayne

        Tim, would you be happy if all your facebook friends just turned up at your house anytime of day or night; ate your food; drank your booze; used your car, clothing and other personal items at their own will with complete disregard that those things belong to you? It is the same when people STEAL a photographer’s photos and use them for their own purposes.

        • Girl Wander

          Exactly. Especially when those people stealing photos are also receiving the credit for them. Sharing others photos is one thing (so long as the owner is okay with it) but not crediting the owner for their hard work is wrong. Photographers put a lot of time, money and effort into producing quality work. Personally I think that should be acknowledged.

      • Guest

        To me it ALL about the money. I spent $20,000 dollars on equipment, and I expect s huge return on my investment. Anyone want to know what a Master’s Degree in Photography cost? Yes, sometimes it is all about the money.

      • Kaouthia

        When it’s a business, yes, it’s all about the money. :)

      • Ron

        Yes. It’s a job and therefore a source of income. Of course it’s about the money. What’s so hard to understand about that?

        For those who just enjoy photographs and are happy to have their images appropriated because they just like being liked, it’s absolutely fine not too worry about watermarking.
        Nothing wrong with being the latter group but it is likely you have another source of income to feed the family with.

      • William Patterson

        That’s a real lousy excuse to steal content. How’d you like it if someone stole your work and said “I made this picture.”

        It’s not good when people take credit for stealing someone’s photo. :P

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=177801859 Kurt B

      What’s worse is that to find one of your best watermarked work gets edited and changed using Instagram and posted on FB so that everybody thinks it’s your best work. I have a friend that destroyed one of my images of her and she credited me for that image on her FB. Yikes!

  • http://twitter.com/kevkchan Kevin Chan

    I agree with most of the tips here. However, I think, instead of trying to make it hard to read by placing it vertically, why not just make it lighter (or darker) so they are not that noticeable unless one takes a second to look for it?

    • http://bloggerjet.com/ Tim Soulo

      yeah.. I agree.. the point is – people should focus on your photo in the first place.. and in case they want to know the author, they should be able to easily locate the watermark & read it.. not the opposite way

  • John Hodgson

    I agree with mona lisa comment but he didnt have facebook or a website where it was so easy for his images to be stolen. If your images are for viewing only they need to be protected however in orint up for sale in a shop then yes small and discrete. I use an embeded water mark not visible at all but you would need to know who stole it also another way is to resize them for viewing making them useless to try and print as you cant enlarge them enough.

    • http://bloggerjet.com/ Tim Soulo

      well I guess here we’re talking about the images that people want to be distributed with their name on them.

      if you sell images and don’t want them to be stolen – you should really place your watermarks the way iStockPhoto does

    • http://www.facebook.com/tim.gilbreath.75 Tim Gilbreath

      Yes that’s true, although I’d say if you’re past the point of simply posting photos for critique and to get exposure, and you’re trying to make serious money from your shots, then Facebook may not be the place to have your photos to begin with.

  • http://www.quantumunitsed.com Beedie Savage

    Should get somebody to assist with the spelling errors prior to posting. Other than that, nice article.

    • http://bloggerjet.com/ Tim Soulo

      Htanks :)

  • Fabs Fabian

    I completely agree with this. Text always pushes the eye, so it ruins the photograph. There is NO reason to watermark. You don’t want people to steal your photos? There’s a little tool called crop and another one called healing brush.

    If you post to the internet you have to accept that the picture might get stolen. Just make sure you post a small size version (about 1000px), so that only that small size picture gets stolen. Also, if you are serious about this, register the copyright. Watermark is no good tool to avoid theft!

    • http://bloggerjet.com/ Tim Soulo

      absolutely agree, mate! :) I’m glad that at least someone got the point of this article :)

    • Guest

      Once you stick one of these on any image © it is protected by the Federal Government rather it is registered or not. Find your image with this removed and you can be riding around in a nice boat rather quickly with your new DSLR. They fines are huge. It does not stop theft, but it helps take the sting out of it.

      • Katie

        True, but registering the copyright makes it easier to go after someone who has stolen your work.

  • Dylan Tracy

    I have a great real example to illustrate your point :-)

    • http://bloggerjet.com/ Tim Soulo

      lol.. I personally know the guy who took this photo :)

    • http://www.facebook.com/chad.ford.7777 Chad Ford

      I used a watermark similar to this once. Some guy used his band aid tool to remove it still. Looked like crap but he was happy with it. It was free after all.

  • http://twitter.com/JeanDoraisPhoto Jean Dorais

    I couldn’t disagree more with this article- I’m tired of people stealing my pics and even using them for profit, EVERY SINGLE pic I post to my website has a BIG, UGLY watermark through it. This article is beyond naive – obviously the author doesn’t care that his work may wind up on someone else’s site…fair enough. But suggesting that you not watermark your pictures is just an invitation to theft.

    • http://www.facebook.com/tim.gilbreath.75 Tim Gilbreath

      I don’t think the author is indifferent to theft; I think his point is simply that photography is art, and a huge ugly watermark turns art into…well, a picture with a huge ugly watermark through it.

    • Dave

      It’s more naive to think that a watermark is going to deter someone who really wants your image. If you’re so distraught about not getting paid by some internet nobody for a photograph, then you should probably reconsider your business plan.

      My thought is that I respect my work. I will not “destroy” it with some garbled text that I have to spend time trying to fit into every photograph. Who the hell has time for that? I’d rather be taking photographs (and possibly making some $$$$) instead of fretting about some dude using a photograph on a blog.

      I can’t do anything about the pathetic souls who steal my work. If they don’t respect my photographs that’s fine, because at least I know the worth of my work and I will display it proudly.

      • Josh_Ellis

        Exactly! The people “stealing” images wouldn’t have spent money anyway. Why worry about it?

        To those worried about theft: You are NOT losing money when people “steal” images. That client wouldn’t have paid for the prints no matter how hard you make it to steal. They obviously don’t value the photo or your service. They’re a bad client (for that kind of business plan), and you shouldn’t get caught up on them! It’s totally different if we’re talking about a big media outlet using your images, but when we’re talking about clients “stealing” images then printing, that’s just a silly thing to worry about.

        • Ben McEntire

          Josh so the movie / music industry is not out any money from illegal downloading … Software companies not either… When 90% of our income is sales… and with each theft that decreases .. not out any money … The easy way to protect images is.. 1. Scale of image online.. FB does not have to have your best resolution and size… 2. Design a watermark that protects as well as does not hinder the image drastically 3. encourage purchasing by offering up sale incentives and by making the deal too sweet still make money but make the package pricing encouraging instead of fearing…

    • Larry Stauth

      The point is to be creative with watermarking. The huge goudy watermark is a wonderful way to get potential customers to lose the context of your image.

      By well placed and controlling the opacity, adding a touch of style (best to match the photo, too), you can watermark your images without the watermark becoming the main element.

      Also, just putting the small watermarks isn’t going to do much, either.

      Using the shot the author gave, watermarking and perspective to make it appear to be on the water would be an example of creative.

      It’s not about allowing or preventing theft. If you wanted to do that, just invest in Digimark.

  • Pingback: Watermarking Faux Pas » 10Stops Photography News

  • Ron

    Yes, this is all good advice for the ‘enthusiast photographer’ i.e. the hobbyist who just wants to be loved and told how spiffy their images are (I’m not bagging that, it’s a perfectly respectable position to be in).

    But it couldn’t be worse advice for someone actually trying to develop a business or to protect their IP and copyright. Especially someone new who doesn’t realise just how likely it is that their images may turn up in unexpected places and justified through being declared an ‘orphan work’

  • Martin

    this is such a difficult issue. I agree that watermarks can ruin a photo and generally when we post a photo online the reason for posting it for people to see and enjoy them so why do we ruin that enjoyment. I am certainly much less likely to hang around and admire a photo with an ugly watermark on it and also less likely to comment on it to say how much I enjoyed seeing it. But then there is the other side as well. I have had so many photo’s of mine turn up on other peoples sites being claimed as theirs and even found some being sold through stock libraries and not by me that I got offended by it so started putting a watermark in inconvenient places to remove and also limiting the size of posted images. My other 2 choices were to not post pics anymore or just accept others will steal them and claim them as their own work so for now I am trying the ugly watermark out of frustration.

  • Gilang

    nice tips..^ ^

  • Kris Landt

    brilliant! i’ve been trying to figure out the whole water-marking thing.

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  • http://www.facebook.com/tim.gilbreath.75 Tim Gilbreath

    I know this doesn’t provide much comfort to the professionals that rely on their photos for income, but the first thought that runs through my head when I find my stuff on someone else’s website is….oh, apparently it was good enough for them to steal; I’m getting better. That’s the proverbial “bright side”.

    • Katie

      Good point. I think often theft of images is done out of ignorance, not malice. People don’t seem to understand that they are in fact stealing and sometimes that watermark serves to remind them.

    • Realspear

      As I said in another post, once it’s sold to a client, it’s just as likely (actually more likely, most of mine get seen by far larger audiences than I have as a photographer) to get lifted. It’s not going to matter if it is truly a saleable image. If it’s not going to sell, then unlicensed usage is not going to matter much.

      And, as I do and many other photographers I know do, the watermark is used as promotion and identification, not as theft-deterrent. For those of you that are not licensing images, it might look like it would stop unlicensed usage. For those of selling, it’s not going to matter once it’s sold.

  • Bilbo Baggins

    Glad you finally ditched that old building and loan.

  • http://www.facebook.com/judyferrisbosco Judy Ferris Bosco

    I always watermark my photo’s with a big fat copyright c. If anyone wants an unaltered photo without it, they can pay me for it. I post my photos on Facebook so clients can see that I know what I am doing. Equipment, insurance, travel fees and my time cost money.

    • Dave

      And exactly how much money do you make from prints? I

      • http://www.facebook.com/judyferrisbosco Judy Ferris Bosco

        As a part time venture, I do OK.

        • http://www.facebook.com/judyferrisbosco Judy Ferris Bosco

          And if they want to see one without a watermark, they can look at my website.

  • Newbie

    I thought that was the purpose of using a watermark online…

  • http://twitter.com/JeffreysPhotos Jeffrey Lee

    If someone is determined to steal something, they’ll find a way. If it’s true for bicycles, then it’s true for photos. Doesn’t mean you have to make it easy for them though. I place my watermark very visibly in the image, the only concession to aesthetics being the I have a grey version for black and white images. Clients of mine get images without the logo because they payed for it. Everyone else is free to do the same or they are going to have to put some effort into stealing from me. In this crowded information universe, I’m not going to pass up the chance to get my logo in front of someone. It takes many, many impressions for these things to stick and I need to take every opportunity I can for people to remember the name.

  • Realspear

    A lot of people posting here talk about selling photos but don’t seem to realize that if they really were selling enough photos, they would understand that clients post those photos without watermarks and they get lifted. I have one photo on which I have sent out over 100 takedown notices. The photo has been licensed for clothing, promotion, and stock, but most of the lifting was from the first client site that published it. Having a big watermark does not protect a professional photographer selling photos regularly.

    What I use the watermark for is marketing. Everything I put up has a small watermark and I have sold a lot of photos from people tracking me down from that. If people crop it out and use it on Facebook, well, if it’s a marketable photo then it would happen with client usage.

    • Katie

      I use my watermark as a branding/marketing strategy as well. I figure that way if someone does repost it (assuming they don’t remove the watermark) then hopefully people will still see the watermark and track me down.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Michael-SeePhotography/100002622809200 Michael SeePhotography

    Great! I’ll crop out your watermark and then call it my own. The author while having good intentions is not realistic to the fact that his solution watermark can be easily cropped out and therefor the pic stolen.

  • Christa

    I feel like the tone of this article is saying, in a very playful way, that all these watermarks are inappropriate in style and design. Aside from the obvious “hire a talented graphic designer”, I would love suggestions on effective and attractive watermarks for photographers.

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=608193708 Casey L Rauth

      I’ve found that integrating a watermark into the photo works well in some cases. This photo is a good example: http://www.flickr.com/photos/derekwheeler/8605986027/

    • Josh_Ellis

      I’m pretty sure the advice is to not use watermarks.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=608302612 Lori Hoddinott

    there’s a photographer’s group on facebook that has all kinds of info on photo theft and copyright infringement issues called Stolen Photo Reports … all photogs welcome to join.

  • http://www.facebook.com/daniel.cutter1 Daniel Cutter

    Well first of all (C) is an americanism which Leonardo wouldn’t have recognized. And secondly the reason I watermark my images is simply because FB strips all copyright info from the file on upload. I’d stop watermarking as soon as my copyright remains in EXIF.

  • Make_it_Happen

    All I hear is a lot of whining. Seriously. Go out there and make a name for yourself, THEN everyone who sees it will know it was yours. Stop whining about the internet and stealing. It’s the tool that gets you business everyday. SO many photographers whine, making it hard for the rest of us to be taken seriously. If someone steals your pic, then deal with it how you see fit. But don’t ruin all your images by plastering them with your name ESPECIALLY if it’s not in a uniform style. SO tacky to see it in different places on each image, and staring right at you. If you want more business, create something that will draw the view in, and invite them to the location or product, or talent.

    This isn’t to say I don’t understand. But if people are stealing your work ,and you know them, then it’s your own fault they don’t know differently.

    • Josh_Ellis

      Yes. Yes. And Yes. If you think you’re so good that your images will be stolen, you register it with the copyright office and don’t put a watermark. When you find a stolen image, you make a huge profit. Simple. The reason people steal is because they don’t know the consequence. Hurt them with that if you really want to, but don’t put a stupid watermark that does nothing but deter people from appreciating your art.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1701441900 Susan E Hoffman

    I have to agree with those who say you need a watermark to protect your work. I have seen so many photos (mine and those of people I know, as well as paintings and other original artwork) ripped off by someone who claims THEY created it. It’s sad but online you don’t have much choice if you want to prevent your photos from being misused.

  • ActionJunky

    I have put way too much effort and thought into this topic, but this is my take. I do believe that watermarks are distracting. From now on, I will minimize the watermark. As for people stealing work from websites, I never post a full size, full color image. You will only get those by purchasing the work. If someone steals an image 1000 pixels wide, they are most likely using it for a blog or small website.

  • http://twitter.com/CaySedai Carol Foltz

    It’s not just about the money or recognition/acknowledgment – there are people stealing other people’s personal photos and claiming them as their own, even to the point of making up fake names for their kids. Having a prominent watermark could at least make people realize that the photo doesn’t belong to the fake parent.

  • http://www.facebook.com/ujium Richard Baker Jr.

    I am an up and coming photographer, I understand the point of watermarks, but it does take away from the photo. I purposefully do not mark my photos with a water mark. I figure even if someone steals it and I do not get credit or money, at least someone somewhere is looking at a photo I took and is enjoying the captured scene. All of my photos on my facebook page I always tell everyone they are free to be downloaded and shared for whatever purpose, they are not watermarked.

    Albiet, I did not spend money for school, and not a lot on equipment yet, but my main goal in photography is enjoying life. I am a wounded soldier, it gets me out of the house and into the world. Any photos I do not want copied, I upload a small resolution version.
    Enjoy this bird, Smile!

    • The Roaming Invert

      This is a beautiful, beautiful photograph. I love everything about it. Thank you for that.

  • Josh_Ellis

    The watermark debate is so silly. This is the exact same issue as pirating software or music. Yes, it’s illegal, and no I don’t do it anymore, but the solution isn’t for companies or artists to waste a bunch of time and money putting DRM and crap all over their stuff. The solution is to come up with a source of income that isn’t easily stolen.

    If your main point of income in business comes from something so fragile that anyone and their grandmother can ruin your income, then you should probably change your selling point or quit putting any files out there. Yes, technically, you have the law on your side, but that’s not what matters…

  • Karl

    I make money selling photos, but I don’t use watermarks. I think they simply ruin the image. I post small versions, and I go after anyone who tries to use them commercially. If someone posts my photos on Facebook, or something like that, so be it. That’s the price we pay for using the Internet to showcase our work.

    • VikingAesir

      Of course the watermark ruins the picture, that’s the point. You don’t sell someone the watermarked version.

      • Karl

        Obviously, I was referring to the version that is displayed to attract buyers, not the one that is actually sold.

  • sash

    I think watermarks for me depend on the type of photo. If I’m doing photos for someone and they are buying them anyway, then of course I wouldn’t post a watermark. In cases like prom photos, where I’m trying to sell to all people in the photos, I’ll watermark right across the middle. People will take them and use them on Facebook I’ve found in the past. It’s annoying, but I do understand they probably wouldn’t have bought them. However, it still pisses me off so of course I’ll watermark them across the centre. It’s more about not getting stepped on and taking advantage of than about making money from these people.

  • H L Thomas

    For each person’s level of comfort there’s a solution. There will always be theft and varying methods to deter it. Offering alternate methods is fine but I see no reason to cast aspersions on anyone that chooses to whichever degree to watermark regardless of whether they’re in business or not.

    There are very subtle/invisible watermarks that modify the entire image itself by encoding ownership information within. The image can then be tracked. Can even this method be defeated? Sure…as any deterrent can be. Locks can be picked and safes can be cracked…so what? If it’s yours…you have the right to protect it as you see fit or throw it in the street for all to use for free. The one method that offends you might be perfect for another’s needs and sensibility.

  • Photo Instructor

    copyright and add metadata, watermarks are just unprofessional. If someone wants to rip off your photo, they will, watermark or not.

  • guest-99

    Interesting perspective from someone who’s personal blog is full of un-watermarked swiped images belonging to others…

  • Mikey

    Interesting article, but totally unaware of WHY some people need a watermark.

    I can see his point for professionals, but even there, watermarks sometimes are used as a ‘last effort’ to prevent theft of services. If you can easily crop out the watermark of a proof photo, the it’s not doing the job some people want, or need.

    And in online protection, theft of images are rampant. Especially in social media. Fake and otherwise fraudulent profiles are rampant on the ‘interaction’ (i.e. dating) sites, and theft of pics is widespread. A lot of users need, and demand, a way to make sure their photos stay theirs, and not copied to another profile. Putting your ‘profile name’ as the watermark that makes the pic unusable to others is a pretty simple solution. Not foolproof, but enough of a pain to discourage others

  • Jiaxin Zheng

    I agree with many photographers here. There are many ways to neglect giving credit to a photographer’s work, and cropping out the watermark is one of them. Additionally, having a large watermark is necessary sometimes as it prevents people from stealing the preview image and then not paying the photographer for it.

  • Ron

    I think that your basic premise is flawed George, how would an image ever be worth up to 10K if people can just download and print it for free?

    I appreciate that your perspective may be different in that you use photographs to promote ebooks and therefore your income may no longer be tied directly to the images themselves (which is a logical evolution for a photographer and congrats on it btw :-).
    But if your images are unidentified and permeating the web in some form through others, then how do you get them to buy your ebook that helps photographers improve their imagery?

  • Girl Wander

    I place mine in the frame area. This unfortunately means that it is easy to crop out. However, as with most people who take photos and post them online, the quality of the photographs I do upload diminishes significantly meaning that if someone was to print and enlarge them the quality would be bad enough for people to realize it was ripped off. Also the original images on my laptop have the model number of the camera they were taken with so not too difficult to trace back to the source. Reducing the file size so others can still see your work but can not enlarge it to a decent enough size to be able to print it is probably the safest way to go.

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  • caiquesoares

    Recently I was extremely low on cash and debts were eating me from all sides! That was UNTIL I decided to make money on the internet. I went to surveymoneymaker dot net, and started filling in surveys for cash, and surely I’ve been far more able to pay my bills! I’m so glad, I did this! With all the financial stress these years, I really hope all of you will give it a chance. – 75jv

  • Mau Sarcon

    I would love having my watermarks on the sides but I’m afraid that they might not credit me for it. So I try to place them somewhere that it can’t be cropped. ( I’m a portrait photographer BTW*) And cropping out names hurt me.

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  • @photogoofer

    Most famous artists signed their art. The equivalent of a watermark. Monet signed in the bottom right corner as in the 5th example above. I think I’ll stick with this tradition…

  • Dorman D Kehr

    As both an artist & photographer I have learned that the best overall way for me personally is to leave the thumbnail version of the photo/art without the watermark and when I give the option of the viewer to view an enlarged version it is lowered res and openly watermarked. The thumbnail if downloaded can’t realistically be enlarged and the enlarge version is lower quality and W/M’d so printing or copying is useless. If someone desired the photo/art enough they will pay for it. Never undervalue yourself or your product.

  • Alex Green

    i think you’re missing the point of a watermark. A tiny one in the corner is the easiest for people to crop out and steal your photos.

  • http://www.clippingpathspecialist.com/photoshop-retouching/ Suman Rahman

    What should I say to appreciate your thinking and writing on watermark here. Very much common mistake we always do is just ruin the photo with the misplacement of the watermark. I really like the tips “enjoy the actual photo” . Lastly the picture you have given watermarked with Leonardo de vinci is really the proof of bad effect of unconscious watermark.

  • Daniela Argandoña

    Hi :) Thanks for the interesting post, I have the same problem with my watermarks, yet, after long thinking more than reading other pples comments, I came to having the watermark in a colour that matches the photo, plus a 72 dpi and not more. I know it can still be shared or copied, or…. but well, these are the risks of today’s networks, same as the benefits.

  • Guest

    The point of some watermarks is to prevent someone else from stealing your image. If your watermark is something that can easily be cropped out, that defeats the purpose. Bigger, hard-to-miss with a lower opacity is better at diminishing fraud. Just sayin’.

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  • http://www.toddwilliamsphotography.com Todd Williams At Magnolia

    Bah. 2.3 seconds to crop off your watermark and steal your image. Don’t like my watermark then pay to license.

  • Andrew Franklin

    I created a logo in photoshop and just place that in the corner of each photo I take. Only thing I change is the opacity based on the image so the logo is faint but still there.

  • http://www.clippingsolutions.com/ Background Remover

    “My watermarks used to be small in a corner” I do that too. :)

  • Carol Greene

    You cannot really recommend watermarking on a tiny spot on the side???!!!
    Have you ever heard of cropping?
    A pro photographer should only post their photo’s to their website that has embedded watermarks. You share a link from the website with a small sized and yes watermarked photo.
    Yes a huge watermark right across the center. You can make it clear if it really bothers you so much LOL!

    The guy that wrote this is not a photographer IMO.
    He takes snapshots and is just happy to have great Aunt so and so share it at Facebook because she noticed a house in it she used to live in. Not because of the artistic quality of the photograph.

    Some of us are trying to make a living.
    I have had photographs stolen and the person put THEIR watermark all over it.
    So no. I am not taking this idiot’s advice.
    Anyone who has REAL interest in your photograph will not give the bog watermark much though.

  • Bob

    Water mark across stock photos, but if a customer hires me to do a photo session and pays me for the shoot, the photos are theirs. I may get permission to us a couple of prints in advertising but that’s it.

  • UNkown

    10 common photography mistakes

    Mistakes are usually an inevitable phase of learning. For many photographers, overcoming mistakes and ensuring high quality work is important. The following is a compilation of the 10 common photography mistakes and tips to help you resolve them. Correcting these mistakes will significantly enhance your photography skills.

    1. Buying lots of photography gear simultaneously

    This mistake of acquiring lots of new photography gear at once affects both seasoned photographers and beginners alike. However, new photographers generally think that buying the most new gear is going to make them the best photographers. Buying a new lens, flash or camera won’t make you better at this craft. Actually, the best photographers can easily capture great photos with just about any camera. What is more important is the creativity, technical knowledge and a keen eye for lighting that will transform you to a much better photographer. Obviously, this does not mean you should never buy new gear. Different gear is actually helpful in providing better resolution and more flexibility. Just remember to enhance your skills as the photographer using the gear.

    2. Distorted horizon

    You are in position capturing a breathtaking sunset with your latest camera. However, in the eagerness of capturing the perfect sunset, you forgot to ensure that to set the horizon level. As a result, all the sunset photos are crooked. Luckily, there is a simple way of fixing this issue of a misaligned horizon. Most of the photo editing software available can do this automatically or allow you to make the appropriate edits by angling the canvas to a horizontal position in a software like Photoshop or Lightroom. You should also turn on your camera’s electronic spirit level or virtual horizon when capturing the photo for better precision.

    3. Wrong white balance

    Do your photographs look too cool or too warm? This is a common mistake that is caused when the camera incorrectly assesses the white balance. While AWB (automatic white balance) can easily determine a suitable setting based on the situation, the best option of getting it right the first time is by setting your own white balance figure. By correcting this mistake, your photos will appear more natural and you won’t need to do lots of editing work later on.

    4. Lens distortions

    This particular mistake is common amongst beginners as they are more prone to using the wrong lenses. Some lenses make subjects appear warped, while some introduce some undesirable elements like the loss of brightness or color around the edges. The first way of resolving this mistake is choosing the right lens with a suitable focal length for your subject. There are some cameras that even apply corrections automatically as you capture JPEG images. However, it is most efficient and easiest to correct this mistake when editing the photo afterwards.

    5. Image out of focus

    Relying on autofocus is not recommended for any professional photographer. This is likely due to the fact that the camera sometimes gets it wrong. When this happens, you find that your images are focused on something in front of or behind your preferred subject. In order to make sure your camera chooses your preferred focus point, set focus mode as single point AF.

    6. Blurred images

    You have taken a great photo, but it is just not quite as sharp. This blurred image can be the result of various factors, like movement of the camera during exposure, wrong focus point or subject movement. Unless the blur is meant as an artistic effect, there are a number of ways you can ensure sharper photos. This includes increasing ISO sensitivity to roughly 1/80 second with a shutter speed of 1/125s so as to prevent shake and also using a tripod.

    7. Photos look dark and dull

    Sometimes your photographs can look darker than the real scene. This phenomenon is usually caused by your camera meter reading influencing the exposure of the light situation. The remedy to this mistake is quite simple and it is known as exposure compensation. You can set this value in automatic mode. Applying the exposure compensation will give your images more life.

    8. Poor composition

    Composition refers to the art of balancing an image to enrich the flow. The mistake that many photographers make is capturing a photo with the subject directly in the center, but it does not always create the most attractive image. A simple composition method that you can use is the principle of thirds. This is where you subdivide the photo into thirds, both horizontally and vertically using 2 lines. You then place your subject at the intersection point of the lines or along the lines, to create a more captivating image.

    9. Too much editing

    Good post-processing of photos is just about subtleness, improving instead of overpowering a photo. Too much HDR or excessive contrast can make your photos appear tasteless. Remember that each photo is unique, so it is important to use different effects and filters based on what the photo requires. For instance, increasing saturation properties on landscape photos may look amazing, but doing the same effects on portrait photos will be quite unflattering.

    10. Overlooking the basics of photography

    This is the final major mistake that photographers make today. After learning all the right skills like focus, composition and exposure, you should not forget the simple basics of photography. This includes things like charging your batteries, carrying spares, backing up memory cards and ensuring you have all your gear before heading out to an event. Lastly, remember to always remove the lens cap once you start taking photos. You will be surprised to know that this mistake still happens to experienced photographers.


    Photography is very enjoyable and rewarding. Just remember not to be scared of getting in close to your subject, as is the case with most beginners. Try numerous perspectives like climbing up a tree or lying on the ground to get a great perspective. Once you implement the above solutions and enhance your skills, you will be able to improve your photography quality.

  • Jenny Young

    I could easily retouch those photos to remove the watermark with simple photo editing software. I got plenty of practice retouching my wedding photographs a few years ago that my friend took. It is best to have a large watermark through the center of the photograph.