Many photographers use watermarks on their images when they put them online. Either on their websites, forums or blogs. The reason for this is to discourage copying of the image by some lowlife thief and using without permission. Perfectly understandable. But at what cost does this diminishing of the image come with? It is my belief that if a dishonest person wants your image the will take it. And everyone who really wants to see your image will have this unsightly watermark staring them in the face! Depending on the dishonest persons intended use taking the watermark off could take them some time to do but it can be done.

This image with the watermark put directly over the main area of the image is by far the best way to mark it. Looks like crap in my opinion but it would take some time to remove it and make the image look original. Besides it’s like 25k at 72dpi in size. So go ahead and spend time removing the watermark so you end up with a very low quality image you can do almost nothing with anyway!

Most all images I see have small little watermarks in the lower right hand corner, kind of like a little sign saying “hey this belongs to me”! Do you really think the person lookin it cares? Of course they don’t. And the little watermark in the corner is extremely easy to get rid of. So what is the purpose of putting it there to begin with?

Henry Domke is a professional nature photographer in Missouri. I had not heard of him until a few months ago when I ran across his website and blog healthcarefineart. Henry could be described as one of the premier nature photography providers for the health care industry. I encourage you to visit his sight and see his beautiful work. He posts on his blog on a regular basis usually weekly (which is a little lacked in my opinion as one could gather from a recent post I wrote about Photographers and Blogs, but he provides valuable information consistently when it comes to art and health care which more than makes up for the time between posts. He wrote on a previous entry to his blog about this watermarking of images and his take on it surprised me to the point that led to this post. Henry does not watermark any of his thousands of images he has on his sight and when asked why he simply states; “I think it looks bad and looks is central to what I want to get across. Not only does the watermark distract from the image it cheapens the image, it’s too commercial”. Not only that, Henry states that he likes it when people take his images from his website. They can be used in presentations which may bring him business and also likes it when people use them as screen savers. The files used to produce his fine art prints are 1,000 times bigger than what is put online. How’s that for a different way of thinking! I have to say, I completely agree with his way of thinking. And to take it a step further, watermarks just plain suck!

So go ahead and watermark your images if it makes you feel better. But remember you want other to see it for what it is not that it is copyrighted by you. And more importantly when it comes to putting images online, make sure they are very small files that can not be reproduced as a large high quality print! Files under 200k at 72 dpi simply cannot be reproduced to decent quality. As for me there will not be markings plastered over a fine art image in hopes of discouraging it’s use. Seems to completely defeat the purpose of showing others your work. Will I lose sleep and freak out when I see my image being used without my permission and lead me to contacting my attorney? Guess there is only one way to find out. Be smart in what you do and you really won’t have anything to worry about.

I chose to spend my time growing in my craft not discouraging the end results use.