Watermarks and photo copyrights

When an artist paints a picture, they finish by signing it.  Right?  Typically in the bottom corner.  If you then wanted to know who the artist was, you could just look.  If you desired to see more of this artist’s work, you would know how to find it.

Photography is an art too.  When a photo is published, the photographer/artist signs it.  With a watermark.  A watermark is a symbol, design or name that is placed over the photo in a opaque fashion that is somewhat “see through”.   Just like a beautiful painting, it is typical for the photographer/artist to sign in place that doesn’t mar or deter from the beautiful photograph.  The photographer is the last person who would want to see a big watermark across his or her photo.  Sometimes a watermark is placed right in the center of photo “proofs”.  That is meant to deter the recipient from using the sample and thus not purchasing the final product.  Online is a different story. The watermark is a copyright symbol and a means of letting the viewer know who took the picture.  If the watermark is  easy to read, it can be a way for the viewer to find the photographer.  If it’s just a symbol, it won’t help anyone find them.

As I researched this article, the “why” and “why not” of watermarking, the overwhelming view of artist/photographers was against watermarking.  I asked my husband about this viewpoint.  His reply.  “they probably all have jobs.”  Meaning, if you are making a living in photography, it behooves you to let people know how to find you.  The artsy photographers feel that the watermark is arrogant and distracting.  They feel that it is the first and only thing that you will see.  One such article is worth looking at just to see the cute P.S. http://photodoto.com/photo-watermark-ideas/

As a photographer, I have struggled with the whole watermark conundrum.   Where should I place it?  What should it say?  I have had so many different versions!!  My husband and I have tried so many different things.  Lately, a few things have come to our attention that has completely shifted how we mark our photos.  We too were discretely signing our work in the bottom corner.  How lovely.  It doesn’t affect the photo and yet, lets everyone know how to find us.  Unless….it gets cropped off.

Here is a photo that my husband (www.farrellphotography.net) took of a happy Military couple. He is very proud of the picture.  And, he signed it at the bottom.

The couple loved it sooo much!   They put the photo on Instagram, and WOO HOO it was shared on a very popular military site.  How great for us.  Right?  Well, yes of course.  Except….the watermark didn’t make it through the crop that is automatic in Instagram.  Here’s what it ended up looking like.

Recently, it happened again!  YAY!  Another military photo, another very popular Instagram site.  THIS time our water mark made it through the crop.


And, it happened again!  YAY!



This time HALF the watermark made it.  It’s still a work in progress.  Basically, we are trying to imagine the Instagram crop and place our watermark/logo in a place that would have it remain after cropping.  Easier said than done!

These people were NOT trying to remove our photo credit.  But, it was removed just the same.  It’s our responsibility to prevent it in the future.  So, when you see our watermark as near the center of the photo as we can artfully place it, you will know why.  We are not placing these watermarks to prevent stealing.  Although that would be a plus.  Stealing photos is a whole other subject that I hope to address in a future blog post.

The reason we are watermarking our photography is to help people find us.  We are a business and we want to be found!

Article written by Stephanie Farrell.  All rights reserved. No part of this article may be copied without a link back to the original content at www.stephcentral.com  Too bad there isn’t a way to watermarked an article or text! <grins>



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