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Lets talk about watermarking (WM) our images.

I know many togs will WM their images to lessen the chance of theft and frankly I'm not too concerned about theft. I'm of the belief that someone who's going to steel isn't someone who's going to actually license that photo anyway. So what am I really loosing. So I've taken the approach of never watermarking my images because for the most part they distract from the art and make it ugly.

In the back of my mind though, I wish it was there for the chance it gets shared or used on a blog. Everyone who sees it will instantly know where it came from. My EXIF data is fully loaded with that information, but I'm sure many will not take that step to look. I see many successfull togs like +Trey Ratcliff and +Patrick Smith who do not WM their images and it doesn't seem to hurt them. There are countless others that do WM their images.

So how many togs that make their living licencing their work have gained real leads from their watermarks? There are no right or wrong answers, I would rather learn from someone else's mistakes.
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Jenn Oliver's profile photoMichael Russell's profile photoEric Leslie's profile photoChuck Leamon's profile photo
12 comments
 
I don't watermark, but photography isn't a source of income for me so I guess my opinions don't really count lol.
 
I've licensed some work, but I always wonder if it would be more if people could find me when they find my work around the net.
 
I've often debated this and have opted for a small watermark in the corner, hopefully fairly unobtrusive but also making aware who took the photo. Its not a security feature - most that I've discovered stolen have actually left it on.
 
Get any leads that you are aware of? Someone saying, "I saw your photo on some website and looked you up"?
 
I watermark my images. No real leads such as Nat Geo but i have had leads to my website from people googling me. Usually unobtrusive WM in the bottom corner is the way i go.
 
+Giuseppe Basile Well, those are leads. I consider anything that puts eyes on your website is a success.
 
I didn't for a long time but I started to after seeing many of my images being used without permission and without credit. I've even had people put their own copyright info on them. Talk about adding insult to injury. I try to make them as unobtrusive as possible but I feel it's an unfortunate necessity. Whether you make money from your photos or not, it's your work and you should at least receive credit.
Trey has had his images used without permission by some big companies and I hope he was compensated well for it. Fortunately he has thousands of fans that know his work and can alert him whenever they spot one of his photos being used without permission.
Google's reverse image search is a great tool for finding out where you're images are being used online. TinyEye is good too.
 
I'm not a photographer by trade, but as an artist I put a copyright notice on my painting images. (I license through an agent) I don't see an issue with a photographer watermarking..
 
I use one - there are just too many people who assume if it can be found on the internet, it is free to use for however they want. I've had more than one person reply to me saying "Oh but I didn't take it from your site, I took it from google image search so it's ok to use as mine." Sigh.

As a food blogger, food pics especially tend to find their way on certain sharing/reblogging sites, and then any chance of keeping it connected to me or preserving meta data is pretty much gone. At least with a watermark people will see it's not the reblogger's photo and hopefully that it is mine. I'd like to think it helps, but no sure way to measure...
 
Personally no leads that I am aware of from my watermark on stolen images. It can't hurt though I figure.
 
+Jenn Oliver It seams people who shoot more commercial work are more likely to get stolen due to the more generic nature of it. I may start working on a watermark and see where that leads me.
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