If you’re thinking of watermarking your images, think again. Here’s 4 reasons why I think watermarks are useless. Keep reading to learn more.
So many novice photographers are interested in watermarking their images. I get it, I used to do it. We all want some sort of recognition for our work, as well as some protection.
However, over time and talking to other photographers I came to realize they are simply useless. Why are they useless? Well, there are four simple reasons.
They Get in the Way
If you want your images to shine in all their glory, they should be shown whole. However, watermarks usually get in the way, obstructing the view to some details in the image.
Those details may be secondary, but they are a part of the image so they shouldn’t be covered. Besides, the watermark may compete for your viewers attention. What do you want your audience to see? Your photograph or your watermark?
They are Easy to Remove
Photoshop and other photo editing tools have improved so much lately in their ability to “remove unwanted objects”, that nowadays it’s fairly easy to remove a watermark from an image and then reuse it for any other purpose. So much for protecting your images.
Can’t Be Tracked for “Exposure”
Many novice photographers do TFD (time for downloads) work, in essence doing some sort of exchange of services with models, makeup artists, designers, etc. It’s a common practice that gives you experience. Gaining experience is great, but these exchanges are usually done for “exposure”; you know, the promise of promoting the photographer’s work in the model, MUA, or designer’s social media. That’s why many photographers deliver their exchange work with a watermark.
Whether this is fair or not is up for debate but, in practical terms, the watermark itself cannot be tracked to determine if the “exposure” was effective. What can be tracked are mentions and tags.
You could deliver your work without watermark and ensure that you are mentioned every time the images are used in social media. Social media mentions can be tracked if you use the business tools that Facebook, Instagram and others provide, and these tools give you objective data to measure your images’ exposure.
Does Not Protect Your Work
Finally, I’ve heard so many times that the watermark or metadat is a way to protect your copyright. Please, do me a favor and ask an Intellectual Property lawyer. They will most likely tell you: No, watermarks do not give you any protection.
The way to protect your work and provide a legal basis for any copyright dispute is to register your images. Where? It depends on your country, but in the US you do it in the US Copyright Office, in Mexico with the Instituto Nacional del Derechos de Autor, in Chile with the Departamento de Derechos Intelectuales, in the UK with the Intellectual Property Office.
In the end, it’s up to you to watermark your images. Just be aware that watermarks don’t provide any protection, are easy to remove, they get in the way of your work and they don’t provide any measure of exposure. That’s why I think watermarks are useless.
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