The Importance of Watermarks
Have you ever noticed a small business logo placed somewhere on a professional photograph? Have you ever wondered at its true importance? Why that minuscule branding stamp is really there and why some photographers insist upon its inclusion?
For the sake of your possible curiosity, I wanted to bring to light some reasons photographers apply branding to their work for online sharing. While, at first, these watermarks may seem meaningless to most, feel free to follow along and find out the reasoning behind those small emblems.
Let’s start with clients impressions of watermarks. From what I’ve learned throughout the years, clients often view watermarks as a needless nuisance that prevents the “true image” of their professional portrait from being seen. Yup, those small additions to portraits seem to baffle, and sometimes irritate, clients for some reason or another. I’ve often noticed Facebook and Instagram users sharing photos I know they didn’t capture themselves. And, this caused me to ask myself, “Why?”. Why would people feel the need to share photos without proper credit? It truly boggled the mind. As a creator, I’m mystified as to why someone wouldn’t want to willingly share their photographer. To share the pride they should have in beautifully captured images from a photographer THEY chose. It's a symbol of your style and encourages others to potentially reap what you've sown.
The conclusion I’ve come to is, clients are unaware of the reasons photographers add watermarks to their images. As such, I wanted to see if I could spread some awareness regarding the importance of watermarks.
Biggest reason photographers add watermarks: PRIVACY.
The internet can be a scary place. Each time you post something, it goes out into the ether. Whether we accept that or not, it’s the truth. Knowing that, I stand by watermarking my images. Stolen photos can turn someone’s life upside down. Be they of you or your family, loved ones, etc. A watermark can provide a modicum of protection against simple theft. Someone seeking to steal another’s photo will hesitate if they have branding of some sort. It’s too much work for the thief, therefore forcing them to look for easier images to copy. This is SO important when photos of your little ones are involoved. Watermarks help prevent those images from being stolen and used for nefarious reasons or gain.
Another reason: PREVENTS PRINTING
Have you ever shared a photo on social media, went over to a family member’s house and noticed an image YOU shared is printed (poorly, mind you) and framed on their side table? I don’t know about you, but that creeps me the heck out. Maybe I’m selfish, but I’m ok with that. If I’m giving out photos, I'M giving out the photos. I know watermarks won’t prevent people from printing, but it sure creates a pause for those that won’t want images with branding on them decorating their house.
Reason number three: REPRESENTATION
OK, this one goes both ways; it behooves the client and photographer. As a photographer, it is so flattering to see clients sharing your images. It’s even better when they share the correct versions. Meaning, the photos intended for social media have been watermarked and compressed for better viewing online. At least for our business, each watermarked image is compressed. This resizes and optimizes what the picture will look like to others when shared on social media sites like Facebook and Instagram. It also gives our clients the opportunity to share our work. We truly hope our clients love their photos so much they want to share... but, the correct way. If you didn’t take the photos, give proper credit. We work hard to create art and heirlooms for our clients. Sharing with proper credit shows the world you care for your photographer's business. Each time you represent us in a promising light, it exposes us to new clients. Thus, allowing us to grow and/or maintain our small business. *** If you love your pictures, give proper credit. You’re helping us stay in business for the next time you want amazing images to share.
This even applies to other photographers. Often we'll have clients from other parts of the country, or world, ask us if we are able to capture something similar to a photo they saw online. If the image is watermarked, I can easily contact that photographer and ask what their process was for that specific image. While I never copy another's work, it does allow me to create something the client wants, in my own style. This will help me achieve an image in the effect that my client is looking for, while maintaining my aesthetic. My client is happy, I'm happy, and the other photographer is happy because I ASKED about their work beforehand. And, I was able to accomplish all of this thanks to that handy-dandy watermark.
All-in-all, the pros outweigh the cons in regards to watermarks.