Watermarks yes or no?

Let’s talk a bit about watermarks today.
I don’t want this to be mainly me talking though, I want you to get involved. So once you read this please leave a comment, and let me know what your thought on this topic are.

I have a love-hate relationship with watermarks. I hate them because they make a photo look ugly, they destroy its impression and power.
On the other hand a watermark can be really useful, preventing people from using your image illegally and without permission. It also comes in handy as a way of getting credit for your photo. So whenever someone comes across your photo they will know who took it and can look up your name if they like it.

I still haven’t quite made up my mind yet. Sometimes I think my photos should have a watermark on them, then again I change my mind completely, thinking it looks too ugly.
Of course you could try to take the way in between, having a slight watermark, not too big and obvious, but existent. I’d say that’s what I’m using right now on my website.
However, it does not really fulfill the purpose of protecting a photo from copyright infringement.
But at least it does give credit.
With photos I really care about and where I’m worried they might be used for commercial purposes I’ve added 3 watermarks across the photo (rather than 1 big one).

I think usually people shouldn’t be so worried about their images being used without permission. As bloggers we live in a world where this happens every single day, a million times a day.
It’s just a way of distributing great work, sharing what we love, allowing others to be inspired. It’s networking, and connecting with people in a way.
Of course there are exceptions to the rule, e.g. when I think of my more photojournalistic/news images - I do want to protect them from big companies using them without paying me. After all it’s what I earn my money with.

For now I’ll stick with my ‘system’ of using a small watermark for the purpose of credit, and a few more watermarks for the images I want to protect.

I’m not saying this is the perfect way to do it, though. I don’t know if there is a perfect way to go about it. I might change my mind again.
What are your thought on this?


  1. I struggle with this same battle every time I edit photos, but I think I've found my happy medium: a small, all-caps, white, watermark at 50% opacity. Doesn't distract too much from the photo itself, but still gives credit if you're looking for it!

  2. I haven't put any watermarks on my photos just yet. Perhaps it's because I'm not making a living out of them and never took time to think about it. It's definitely something to consider though, as I don't think I'd like it if someone else would claim ownership of my work.

    Royalty aside, I do want to note one thing that I do like about watermarks. I can track down an artist's work that I like if I randomly see one of their work without proper credit. This has led me to discover talented photographers in the past and I never found it distracting, as they were discreet, but useful. Yours and Mayette's method my be just the right way to do it!

    Have you done this since the beginning with your photos? Any ideas for someone who has to go back and "watermark" lots of photos and doesn't want their head to explode?

  3. Thank you both for sharing your thought on this. I find it really interesting to hear what other people think about watermarks.
    Seems like I'm not doing too bad with my technique (encouraging to hear you're doing the same thing, Mayette).

    Maria - I haven't always done it this way, also partly because I changed my url a while ago, and so had to change all my watermarks.
    I just played around with it for a while until I found something I'm happy with. Although I could image I might want to change the way I do it again at some point, or maybe want to use a different font etc...
    I'd suggest creating an action set in Photoshop to help you put watermark on your images - this will automate the process. Otherwise you could open up a few photos next to each other in Photoshop and just drag the layer (your watermark) onto all the images that are open.
    If you still find it too much of a hassle just make sure you add your credits & copyright in the metadata of your photos (you can do this either in Bridge, Lightroom, or Photoshop).
    Hope this helps. :)