Updated: Apr 10
Watermarking your photos is a way of protecting your copywrite, which became very popular with the birth of the internet and digital images. It is also a useful marketing tool to quickly and easily identify who took the photo.
But you can’t just add a watermark to every photo you post, share or upload. Therefore it is important to learn when it is the right time to add a watermark and when it is not.
Before we start I should just make it clear that whether your image has a watermark or not, it does not change or have any effect on who owns the copywrite to that image.
When you Should use a watermark
Social media – More and more photos are being posted and shared on the multiple social networks which are now available. A small watermark in the corner is usually good enough.
Sharing previews with your client – This is the safest way to show your images to the client before they pay for the product. It will also ensure that your client ends up with the best possible end product and not a low-resolution print done at home. For this you will want to use a large watermark which covers most of the image but has a low opacity.
When you Should NOT use a watermark
On your website – If you go through and add a watermark to every photo on your website, it is not only going to be time consuming but also look messy and unprofessional.
Entering competitions – It is usually stated in the rules of most competitions that any images submitted with a watermark will be immediately disqualified. This is quite simply because if you use your name or logo as your water mark it is not going to be hard for the judges to know who took the image and could then affect their opinion of not just your image but others entered to the competition as well.
Providing clients with the final (paid for) photos – No client is going to be happy buying a photo or print which has your name written all across it.
Submitting photos to newspapers, magazines or blogs – any respectful newspaper, magazine or blog would be crediting you as the photographer, and therefore it is not necessary to add a watermark.
Selling photos for stock – Most stock sites will not accept watermarked images. They usually provide their own watermark on the images which are previewed to their customers.
Printing – If you really wanted to you could add a watermark to a printed image but it is not commonly done and therefore many would consider it to look out of place.
At the end of the day it is a personal preference as to whether or not you add a watermark to your images, but if you do decide to do it please make sure you are only doing it at the right time.
This is the first in a 3 part blog on watermarking, next up how to create a watermark in Photoshop,
or skip straight to How to add a watermark in Adobe Lightroom.