To watermark or not to watermark: How do you protect your photos?

Photography is the story I fail to put into words.

-Destin Sparks

Photography is the story i fail to put into words. True & wise words from Destin Sparks don't you think?

Have you ever stumbled upon one of your photos on a social media site and no credit was given or the person who took it “innocently” without telling you about it or believing you would never find out?

Well, that’s exactly what happened to me a couple of months ago. One day I was randomly checking my Instagram feed and could not believe what I saw! One of my own photos had been uploaded by another travel blogger to their own account and then they were happy to mention what kind of filter they had used.

Seriously, that really bothered me. I was simply not going to sit there and do nothing!

So I left a comment for the person asking her where she got the picture from and she did not reply.  I posted my own link to see the similarities; I’ll let you be the judge of that.

The picture appearing on someone else’s site

Mine (original photo posted 3 months earlier)

After seeing my link she said oh maybe she did forget to give me credit or that WiFi was not working properly? What kind of excuse is THAT? Wasn’t it just obvious what she had done?

Things would have been different if she would have admitted that yes she took the picture from my feed or by using one of the hashtags and that she would link back or give proper credit to the owner or in this case the photographer? Isn’t that the right (and most ethical) thing to do? Had she ever heard of photography rights by any chance?

She just replied saying that she did not like the way this situation had turned out, she was the insulted one (because I left her a comment & her followers saw that?). What did she expect? An applause? an apology for causing her unnecessary stress? Seriously.

Moreover, I asked her to delete the picture immediately and to refrain from ever taking any of my photos without my permission. What was her reaction? She blocked me from Instagram! Isn’t that something? I found this childish, unacceptable and unbelievable behavior totally inappropriate.

I mean I honestly don’t mind sharing my images (or seeing it in other sites) and I definitely feel honored that someone likes my work so much that they want to share it or upload them to their own site and share them with their own followers or audience. However remembering to give credit is the golden rule. I always do it when I use someone else’s captures or images.

Here is a great example of a request from the Minister of Tourism of Quebec (and the best way to ask, even if it’s directly through any of the Social Media channels) and it’s exactly how it should be done:

I did appreciate that gesture and next thing you know I saw my photo on their Facebook page!

That made me very happy to see that my work is appreciated and good enough to be shown to a wide audience. It motivates me to keep going and improve my technique. It’s the little things that make it all worthwhile and we remember them long after!

After that episode, I did think thoroughly and asked myself:

To Watermark or Not to Watermark?

How do you protect your photos online?

To watermark or not to watermark_pros-and-cons

Should I add a watermark or make a logo then add it to each and every single photo I upload to any social media site?

Honestly, it is time-consuming and yes people will notice and remember who the images belong to of course.

After a while it does get boring (and annoying) to look at a feed saturated with watermarks. It really takes away the focus from the main image!

Would you prefer to see an image like this?

photo with generic watermark, photography, example of watermark

Or this? (Watermark is a bit more discreet)

Gyeonghoeru Pavillion, Gyeongbokgung Palace, Seoul, South Korea, Asia, Pavillion, Palace, Travel, Visit KoreaOr none at all?

Now I have done some intensive research online and even one of my favorite photographers wrote very interesting posts regarding this matter.

Trey Ratcliff  is an amazing photographer and experts in the world. This is what he says:

Should you use watermarks to protect your photos online? Photography expert Trey Ratcliffe explains why he doesn't. #copyright #photography #watermark #blog #blogging #photographers

Another photographer and lawyer Dan Peters explains the pros and cons of watermarks (and provides legal advice as well):

What exactly are the pros and cons of watermarks on photographs? Come read more about it and see if you should or shouldn't. #watermarks #copyright #photography #photographyrights #blog #blogging #bloggers

As you can see the pros definitely outweigh the cons. The final decision is completely ours!

I will admit that experience of “catching someone” really got to me but I learned my lesson. I should see it differently. They say that imitation is the best form of flattery right?

So instead of letting it bother me, I will simply continue doing what I always have been but will keep an eye on where my photos appear.

I really do appreciate all those who ask for my permission before sharing or put them to good use. That definitely makes me feel better and puts my mind at ease.

I believe that what goes around comes around and I will only focus on the positive from now on.

Now over to you, what is your take on this?

Tell me….

To watermark or not to watermark?

Are for or against adding watermarks or a logo to your images?

If someone took your photos & wouldn’t give you credit what would you do?


I’m all eyes and ears! I can’t wait to read what you have to say.

Share your stories!

All the best,



77 thoughts on “To watermark or not to watermark: How do you protect your photos?

  1. Even though it is nice to see one’s pictures being spread around thanks to the social networks, it is never acceptable that someone doesn’t give credit to the original photographer. to avoid such disappointments, better use a watermark.

    I add a watermark to all my pictures now that I have the possibility to do so. but like you, I don’t like it when it’s too obvious on the picture and steal the main image’s thunder (!!)
    the problem I see with an unconspicuous watermark is that it can also be easily edited out with a cropping of the image, unless it’s right in the middle of it…

    I still go with the discreet one, though.


    • Totally agree with you Jul’.

      As a photographer I do see the legal aspect of protecting our work.

      However a very prominent and unmissable watermark in the middle or bottom of an image is totally distracting and makes me close the page or scroll really fast!

      It’s very easy these days to edit an image and photoshop can make it disappear in no time! But then again only people with no sincere intentions or no values would do such a thing.

      Innocently “taking it” (and knowing it’s wrong) to upload it social media can create probs. So the person should really think twice right?

      That experience and another person who took who knows what images from my SD card taught me to be vigilant from now on.

      Thank you for stopping by! Gracias, merci.

  2. This happened to me recently. I was angered, shocked, and it made me not want to post to social media. But eventually I got over it and went on without watermarking. I understand why people do it, but for me personally any watermark takes away from the image.

    • I absolutely understand how you felt Adam! I was also fuming when I saw that!

      Including a big watermark to everything really does not protect it from editing which is child’s play these days!

      What really bugged me the most is that this “travelista” takes images from left & right and simply “forgot” where she found my image (and the author).

      How is it possible that the image was taken over Jamaica when it was actually shot over the Gulf of Mexico and I happen to capture it? (proof is on my sd card, time stamp included).

      Again I am grateful that someone takes the time to email me or ask me permission to use 1 of my images.

      Well life goes on and we must press forward right?

      Thank you for your visit 😉

      • Late to this post but I have just had it happen to me on Instagram, where I DID watermark my photo, and the uploaded photo was cropped so the watermark was removed. I need to add that this happened after I was blocked by thief. So I didn’t notice it for several hours. I am SO furious. I always watermark my own photos and credit others if I use theirs.

      • Oh the nerve they have! It’s unbelievable!

        They honestly think we won’t be on the lookout or they will not be caught red handed.

        I now just call them out in public and ALWAYS take screen captures before they delete them as proof.

        One way to see Instagram feeds is webstagram or on the web. If you put a specific hashtag or keyword for your photo you can track it down.

        Still working on keeping my work safe BUT its a risk we take every time we upload something on the web!

        TYVM for your input!

    • I noticed that Sonja!

      Your photos are beautiful and I mean it 😉

      I’ve been blogging for about 3 years and I never had any probs until then!

      I do add my initials very discreetly on some photos but putting an obvious watermark on a photo totally distracts the viewer.
      I’ve decided to put a notice “copyright” and protect my site & content with Copyscan. You can type your blog name & it searches the web for duplicate content.

      So far so good 😉

      I will continue doing what I have started and focus on good & positive things.

      Keep up the good work & I appreciate your support…Always ♥ 😉

  3. Great post. I wouldn´t know if any of my photos are used, I normally post them without watermark. I´m not sure whether I should use a watermark or not. I think a small note in the corner is quite ok. People can (and probably will) still cut it off the photo but you make it a bit more difficult? What about you Karla, will you use watermarks from now on?

    Ps. I don´t really mind watermarks in a picture, whether its big or not =) So I guess I should start using them 😛

    • Gracias Milene!

      Honestly i prefer looking at photos with no watermarks. It makes reading much more enjoyable 😉

      You’re right, it won’t stop people from saving the images and edit them.

      I don’t stress about it anymore. However if i see an unfair situation i will say something immediately! That lesson taught me well.

      Gracias por tu tiempo y visita 😉

  4. Man, isn’t this of the the toughest question for people who blog. I hate photo stealers, why can we all just ask to borrow photos? As for IG, I often repost peoples photos, and I also now use an app that clearly shows its a repost with their persons name and I give them a shoutout and I still wonder if that’s okay. As for the water marketing, I am still so confused as to what is right. My site has a mix, and I keep flip flopping on my choice… which looks bad in itself.

    • I find it hard to believe that people just steal online (not just photos but also content). Pretty sad that they have no values or a good conscience. Again i believe that life is like a boomerang, you get back what you put out & deserve! I too have photo repost app on my phone for Instagram & if i like someone’s pic i will ask their permission to use it & always give them credit for it! There are some public domain photos on Wiki & Creative Commons but it only makes sense and its best to cite the author or source even if they have released their work for free use. Photography is a beautiful art & should not be plastered with huge watermark signs! Thanks for your 2 cents on this subject 😉

  5. This is a great post and very insightful on watermarking. I’m sorry to hear that someone used your photo improperly, along with the others commenting. It’s definitely an unfortunate practice and sucks that it happens.

    But I don’t watermark my images for a couple reasons. Mainly, I don’t like seeing copyright text with my name anywhere in the image because it’ll divert attention from the images. I like my photos to be clean and let the viewer enjoy what the photo is about without any distractions.

    Even if I did watermark, it won’t stop someone from wanting to steal my photos; it’s really easy to edit out a watermark, so it’s really just a minor inconvenience for thieves. If you want to protect yourselves from theft, a good way is to lower your photo size and resolution for commercial reprinting. If I do decide to watermark in the future, it would be more for advertising my name, but I’d probably watermark it with small font in a corner or something like that.

    Though I love my photos and the work I put into them, the truth is there are hundreds of millions of people doing the same thing. If I take a really great photo of the beach, then Google Search “beach,” it’ll probably come up with millions or hundreds of millions of search results that are equally great, if not better, and you’ll find most of them are not watermarked. There are just so many photos that it’s very unlikely your photo will get stolen, although it would suck if you’re in the unfortunate few, but at least you’ll be protected by copyright laws if the stolen photo is used commercially.

    Lastly, I simply believe in the honor system. There will be jerks that will do whatever they can to take your photos without your consent, and you can’t really do anything about those people. Not really any different than other thieves. If you happen to come across them, definitely let them know, but you’re not gonna make friends with those people. But others who genuinely appreciate your work and want to share it to the world will give you the credit you deserve, and even reputable places may even pay you for editorial work. When they do share, it just looks nicer without the watermark.

    Thanks for sharing!

  6. Great read!! We always toss up whether we should watermark or not because like you, if we were to use someone’s photo we would credit them and would expect the same respect. But after reading your post – we have decided to watermark from now on. So thank you for the warning and the advice! It helped us make our decision.

    • I’m glad it helped you!

      Like i said it’s a personal choice but if you think watermarks are going to protect your photos then by any means go for it 😉

      Still looking for a software to add small & discreet watermarks!

      • We found one for the moment called iBorderFX which is pretty painless & easy to use if you have iPhoto. So trialling that for the moment 🙂
        Not sure if we are watermarking to protect our photos as such but probably more to get our blog name out there too 🙂

  7. This is a brilliant read as we are in debate over watermarking our photos at the moment. Cannot believe how cheeky or should that be sneaky someone could be with your photographs. We use an app called ‘over’ which is pretty easy to use. We had watermarked a photo set for our blog but then used the un-watermarked ones :o( The debate continues…

    • I’m glad you liked it! I wanted to bring this up and discuss it in public.

      It’s pretty sad that some people don’t have values or good intentions but such is life.

      I’ve not heard of that app, is it for iphone only or android too?

      I will use discreet watermarks but i prefer a clean image.

      Totally agree with you, the debate will continue on!

      Thank you for stopping by 😉

  8. This is just a bad situation all around! I do agree that watermarks distract from the image and don’t like to use them for that reason. It also think that it is more effort to add them and as others have said, does not guarantee that someone can’t just crop or alter the image to remove it.

    The idea that someone could take and pass of my images is something I do worry about. I actually don’t post my favorite photos and my best photos for that reason – which is totally stupid because these are the ones I most want to share!

    There are engines now that can search for text on the web so that you can see if someone has taken your content. Maybe a image tracing engine is not far behind? (Hopefully?)

    I always try to credit the source if I am using wikimedia images or CC license images from Flickr at least! I think it’s awesome when people do ask you for permission. It’s quite a compliment. 🙂 I occasionally will get email from art historians who want to use an image I took and I am happy to share for a good purpose!

    I was actually just talking about this with a friend of mine who has a family blog to share stories and pictures of her kids with friends. This is just for a inner circle of people; she is by no means a “Mommy Blogger”. Long story short, she had pictures up of her family at an event and the local news actually put them on air with the caption “Courtesy a Family Blogger”! She was outraged!!! She is not a professional blogger and the station definitely didn’t have her permission to put pictures of her family on TV! If you can’t expect proper credit from a TV news crew, then there is no hope for online sharing. 😦 I want to stay optimistic but its just too easy for unscrupulous people to steal…. at least for now.

    • Ok, now I’m shocked (and a bit mad). Google does let you search for an image but only one at a time:
      So I put in my most pinned image and found that someone had posted it on their site with their OWN NAME as a watermark on it. WHOA! They are protecting the rights to their stolen image?? That’s my picture! Crazy!

      • That is crazy indeed!

        Why don’t you contact that person and tell them to bring it down immediately? You can contact Google and tell them there has been a violation of authorship? Can that be done?

        Now that is very insulting. I can’t believe they have no shame and just go about as if nothing happened. That is WRONG!

        Let me know what you do and update me please. I’m sure we will all learn from YOUR experience.

        Many thanks


    • Well it is something we, as photographers and bloggers, have in mind every time we create content and publish it online!

      There’s a risk we are taking but my readers would never do such a thing!

      Things have been good in the past 3 years. I won’t let this experience make me paranoid or be on alert all the time!

      Oh my, now your friend who had her photo published on TV without her consent is really bad! How did she found out?

      Respected journalists should do the same as everyone else and ask for permission before invading someone’s privacy and share it with the world!

      Did she take action against them? That is evidence for a legal case!

      I was contacted by a network in the U.S asking me if they could publish on the air one of my tweets & my photo and they made me sign an agreement form, so that it is documented. That is the way to go and makes everyone happy.

      Wow, thank you for sharing this with all of us 🙂

      • I’m glad you had a more professional experience with the network! Unfortunately my friend didn’t even have the generic “I have a copyright” language on her site so she’s not sure if she has any rights. 😦

      • Yes i was lucky indeed.

        However your friend had uploaded the photo to her site first, so she has a valid argument & proof. That channel should apologize formally or compensate her in some way. I would sue them if i were her!

        Thanks for continuing the thread 😉

  9. Thanks for sharing your story, but it’s unfortunate that someone did this to you without apologies. I definitely appreciate it when people credit me when they repost my work; it doesn’t take much effort to acknowledge the photographer!

    I’ve long debated about having watermarks on my images and have come to a sort of compromise for myself. I don’t watermark images that are posted on my blog or photography portfolio. As you were saying, watermarks do distract from the subject of the photograph. I believe in the honor system and it’s more important to me to have a good viewing experience on my websites than to prevent thieves.

    However, I watermark images I post on social media, such as facebook, twitter, and google plus. I think of it more as a brand-recognition tool so that when people see a slew of images shared on these social media platforms, they can see the original photographer/blog’s name. I use my logo instead of just the “(c)Tracy Wong”… partly it’s brand-recognition, partly it’s just less ugly 😛

    To make things complicated for myself, I have 2 different watermarks for my different brands. Easier to demonstrate with examples:

    Anyway, Christina’s story is a nightmare of a different scope! I notice that news stations collect photos and videos from social media sites, but didn’t realize some would be so shady and not contact the author first!

    Thanks again for sharing!

    • That is great that you found what works better for you Tracy!

      I do agree with the honor system which is definitely the best way to go!

      Yes, Cristina’s story is incredible. But what goes around comes around. Life will pay back in kind!

      TY for visiting 😉

  10. I completely agree with your Comments on people using your photos, I’m quite happy if credit is given. I took a couple of photos at a friends wedding for fun and suddenly they were ALL on Facebook as theirs…..let’s just say it still bugs me cos no credit has still been given.
    I’m looking to watermark mine.

    • Well giving someone proper credit IS simply the right thing to do! Really a no-brainer! It’s a powerful statement from YOU as a person with values right?

      The persons took your photos and published them on Facebook? That’s something. Same thing happened to me.

      Another blogger took many of my photos and has them in a photo album with absolutely no credit. What hurt me the most is that i was coerced into giving them away or I would have been considered selfish had I said no!

      I can only think of 1 thing, I have the original RAW files on an SD card, so I’ve proof I’m the creator.

      I will still continue using discreet watermarks when necessary but will be including a disclosure on website.

      Thank you for stopping by!

  11. I prefer the second photo with the smaller watermark because, you’re right, it’s more discreet. However, if you fear people nabbing your images, they could easily crop out the smaller watermark.

    After experiencing similar situations (seeing my blog’s images on Pinterest), I started watermarking as well. I try to place the watermark in an area where it cannot easily be cropped out or edited out via photoshop.

    Good luck and I hope you don’t have to go through this again!

  12. Great post and good food for thought. I have flip flopped between both sides and I never know if I’m doing the right thing. So far, nothing I’ve seen has been stolen and I hope it stays that way, but who knows. I don’t know how I would react to it – would it be anger, or would I just let it slide?

    Right now I don’t watermark generally because I’m lazy. My blog is fairly image heavy and to spend even more time adding watermarks to everything would just be an annoyance more than anything. I don’t see the point in just putting a note in a corner because that would be so easily removed if someone was really determined, and would rather put the watermark in a discreet place in the middle of the image like what Tracy did above in her 2nd photo.

    I’m still divided, but for now I’ll go with the lazy way, which hopefully won’t come back to haunt me.

    • Thank you for sharing your opinion Adelina!

      Well i really do hope no one ever does that to you cause it really is not a good feeling trust me!

      I agree that plastering a photo with a gigantic watermark is annoying and it makes me close the page in a second.

      I get it that the perdon does not want anyone to steal or forget whom that image belongs to but i sure won’t return to visit their site again.

      Yes, even a small watermark can be cropped or magically be erased thanks to photo editing.

      Go with whatever makes you feel comfortable and not worry.

      Someone with good values, intentions and ethics WILL ask you permission before using or downloading them!

      Thank you for stopping by!

  13. Hi Karla

    This happened to me a couple of times. Once on Instagram I was looking at hashtags and came about a guy who took one of my Bali photos and claimed it as his own. His followers raved about it and everything. I don’t care but at least give me credit. I asked him about it and then he just blocked me. The same thing happened too when a hotel that I stayed at used my Instagram photo for their Facebook page. I asked if they could give me credit for the image, it would be awesome. I found out because I follow their Twitter and saw it. Rather than credit me after I asked, they took down the link. That is fine with me because a company that huge should have the courtesy and know better.

    I don’t usually watermark but randomly I do. Certain photos I don’t care about but some of them I am quite possessive about.

    • Hi Arnette,

      thank you for sharing these stories with us.

      Wow, where in the world do these image stealers get the courage to go around and brag about a photo that isn’t theirs? This really irks me more than not giving me credit for being the original author!

      And this dude blocked you too? Oh guilty as sin right?

      Their reaction speak louder than words!

      Now that hotel SoMe person should have known better and asked permission too!

      You sure are keeping a good eye on your images and that is a good thing.

      People need to be educated and they should know how to behave or face consequences!

      I totally agree about adding a watermark to those pics I am proud about. It is protected work!

      Again i won’t become paranoiac but will be on the lookout and defend my work whenever necessary!

      Thanks for taking the time to visit 😉

  14. An interesting article. I hate watermarking images, but having had similar experiences to you I feel it’s the only way to go. But in a weird twist, the image I had taken was actually watermarked – just in a subtle way in a bottom corner, a bit like your second pagoda picture – the thief had simply cropped it off! Now I’m ashamed to have an ugly watermark through the middle of the shots on low opacity. Kind of ruins them but at least I know they’re safe.

    • Oh my! How in the world does someone think they can just take an image that clearly is copyrighted & just crop it and make it theirs without thinking we will find out eventually?

      It really is unbelievable! If you caught the person on the act, didn’t you ask them to remove or delete it or take action (call it in public) for them to learn a valuable lesson? I sure did and that person flew away…literally.

      Thank you for sharing the story & hope it doesn’t happen again!

  15. It sad photographers and bloggers have to do this at all. A very good friend is a well known and talented photographer and her work was recently stolen. Photos are so much more beautiful without the watermarks.

    • It is pretty sad indeed Heather but what is there to do to stop people with wrong intentions? Not much.

      Sorry to hear about your friend!

      I firmly believe that whatever good or wrong you do in this lifetime you’ll get it in return!

      What goes around comes around.

      Thank you for sharing your opinion with us 😉

  16. Fantastic post! I went through the exact scenario where someone stole the image, claimed it as their own, got insulted when he got called on it and then banned me and changed his account name.

    I watermark ALL my images and went through a period of time trying to get the right one (opacity, size, position within photo, etc). I understand the whole distracting issue but to be honest, it doesn’t bother me when I see watermarks on beautiful photos: they kinda disappear subconsciously when I look at pics.

    I see the necessity for watermarking. When even politicians (Rand Paul) and actors (Shia LeBeouf) are stealing others’ works, it’s important for photographers to support one another on his issue.

    Put the watermark. People will crop or photoshop it out but just like when you put “The Club” on your car’s steering wheel, it’s not 100% theft-proof but you’ll sure make thieves work much harder in stealing that image!

    • Thank you so much for your feedback Nando.

      That’s bad that you had to find out that your image was stolen and that the thief felt insulted for having been caught? And blocking you? Guilty as sin!

      Now it makes me laugh that this so called travelista still takes images from left to right but she blocked me on Instagram & Twitter. As if she thinks I don’t check from time to time.

      I do use a small watermark on the corner of the photo but again as you say it’s no guarantee.

      Oh well, what can be done. I get more permission requests now after publishing this post and I appreciate people’s intention & good use of my work!

      Photographers unite 😉

  17. I found that my pics were on facebook pages of some other people.
    Now i always watermark and resize my pics in bulk using this software called Mass Watermark before i upload them anywhere.

  18. Pingback: Why I Watermark My Photos | Cyan Skies

  19. A similar thing happened to me, it was a picture of a hummingbird and there was no way this person could have taken exactly the same picture unless they were stood right next to me (which they weren’t). They were using the picture as their avatar, so I sent them a PM and asked where they had taken it from. They had the nerve to claim a friend had taken the shot and even though I gave them a link to the original shot they still would not admit they had borrowed the picture. Now I always place a watermark in the corner. It still really annoys me, not because they used the picture but because they wouldn’t acknowledge it was mine!

    • Sorry to hear about that!

      How in the world do they come up with such a crappy excuse & unbelievable story?

      On top of that they get offended & insulted when they get caught?

      They should have the decency (and intelligence) of apologizing and perhaps bring it down immediately!

      We learn the hard way sometimes right?

      Thank you for sharing your story with us!

  20. Pingback: Top 5 websites for free images | Traveller soul

  21. I would say watermarking pictures of your kids should be priority..everything else, well I guess I don’t worry so much. 🙂 Life is too short, but if I saw someone stealing a pic of our son and saying he’s theirs because he is the most handsome model looking child ever, well I’d be a LIVID MOTHER!! So… always 2 sides to everything I suppose

    • Well you really need to think before you publish photos of children.

      You know as a mother that privacy is #1, so if you don’t want anyone to take, copy or save it, then don’t upload it in the first place.

      I mean I am a teacher to young students and I only posted a photo or two of them just for graduation. Other than that I had to put myself in their parent’s shoes.

      For everything else well as I said it is totally up to you to watermark your photos.

      I have a disclaimer at the bottom of my site saying that all rights are reserved. If you like my photos and wish to use them then the person needs to ask for my permission.

      Regardless of how often we mention it, some will just go right ahead and do what they please with it.

      I had a bunch of my photos stolen last year and that hurt. I just can take comfort in the fact that I still have the originals on SD memory card and can prove they are mine if need be.

      Thanks for your two cents on this matter 😉

  22. I think its all about how much the photographer values their photos.

    If you find no value in your photo, you will find no reason to watermark it. You won’t care whether anyone uses it for any purpose. Its a whole different story if you have a connection with your photo and find value in it.

    When you take a picture of yourself and post it on Facebook, how often are you thinking whether someone else will use it for their own benefit? Rarely? Sometimes? Often? Depends from person to person I guess. It will also depend on the way others perceive you or your pictures.

    Today, there are all sorts of copyright infringements when it comes to photos. Profile pictures are stolen very often these days. People would rather have someone else’s photo represent them than their own. Anonymity is key. Social media photos, like the Instagram example one above, are stolen for the purpose of gaining popularity and fame through a viral message. Professional shots are stolen because they simply cost too much to license for most people. Having to pay a professional a monthly license in order to use their photo is something most will rather avoid.

    I have yet to find a valid argument NOT to watermark a photo. Think about how movies work. Imagine a movie without credits before and after the movie, just the title of the movie. Anyone could claim to be the director, writer, producer, animator ( ..long list here ) of the movie. It would be shared everywhere by everyone.

    Watermarking is the best solution to date. A watermark will guarantee accreditation of a photo. Cropping it out does not help, because the original author can ALWAYS prove that the higher ( un-cropped ) resolution of the photo is in his/her hands.

    I found there are three ways people watermarking photos:

    1. One way is to simply credit yourself as a photographer. In this case, a small watermark in the corner of the photo will do, nothing drastic.

    2. A second way to watermark is to brand or advertise yourself through a photo. In this case, you will want to ensure your watermark is easy to read, yet does not get in the way of the photo. Remember, if the viewer does not enjoy your photo, they will find no reason to look at your name or url you have imprinted on it.

    3. A third way to watermark a photo is to ensure that no one can use it or any part of it without having to put hard effort in photoshopping the watermark out of the picture. This is very often used on sites like ShutterStock or iStockPhoto where photos are used for commercial purposes on websites for graphics, icons, backgrounds or simply photos that appear as content on a site. The watermark will appear semi opaque and across the entire photo, either tiled or single with lines going from corner to corner.

    One great online tool that helps users watermark their photos online individually or in batch is I have used many tools, including downloadable software and nothing comes close to it in terms of performance, ease of use and the extensive features it offers. Best is that I can use it from anywhere at anytime using any device, comes quite handy.

    • Agree with you on many points!

      Ultimately we’re the ones who must decide on what to put out and make public.

      There are risks involved but if you do protect your work, then it’s a step ahead.

      We can’t predict what people will do but better be cautious!

      Thank you for your detailed & thorough analysis!

  23. Pingback: Reader’s Q & A: How to get more followers on Social Media | Traveller Soul

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  25. I know I’m late to this but here’s my two cents. As someone who really doesn’t want to use anyone’s photos without crediting them, even accidentally, I love it when there is a watermark on the photo (discreet is better, but obvious is fine too). Because so many other people post photos without credit, sometimes it is really hard to trace back the image to the source so I end up not using a photo that I would have liked to. Having watermarks on the photo solves that issue for me.

    • It’s never too late Elvy 😉 TY for stopping by.

      Everyone has their own preferences when it comes to watermarks but whether we are the creator or share the image, the golden rule is to always give credit. It may be a link back to the site where you found it or even better if it’s the photographer.

      It’s always good to do the right thing don’t you agree? 🙂

  26. I started off using watermarks but have stopped. I think that it takes away from the beauty of the photos, regardless of where they are placed or the font used. I still don’t understand why professional bloggers or photographers used them when you can embed all of your copyright information in the image itself using Adobe Photoshop, and no matter where its journey through cyberspace may take it, your contact and copyright information will travel right along with it. I can also use software that will track where my photos appear in cyberspace.

    Say NO to watermarks!

    • You have very awesome and valid points Will!

      I learned my lesson the hard way too.

      Someone stole my image and they bragged about how and where they took it while I have the original about it in my memory card.

      That ticked me off and confronted the person about it and she blocked me. Very professional.

      As for the watermarks i don’t use them anymore either as it really takes my focus away from the entire image and details.

      That’s a great tip about Photoshop. Now not everyone has it but it’s a good idea for sure.

      You know after almost 4 years of blogging, I realize that if we put something out there we know that we’re kind of giving right to people to download them.

      You know the golden rule that I live by is that at least give credit, it really is as simple as that and it is the right (and ethical) thing to do!

      I expect and appreciate other people writing to me and asking for permission when they care enough about my work and rights. I gladly say yes as long as they respect it as I would do the same for them!

      Thank you for sharing your two cents.

      Gracias 🙂

  27. Well, I used to shoot a lot on film. Then it didn’t matter so much, as you always had the film negative, and people couldn’t get your prints or slide by pushing a few buttons.

    I’m recently getting back into photography as a serious hobby and have been kicking the watermark idea around in my head. On the one hand, I do not want distracting marks across my work that I’m going to show people. It is just ugly. If I go with a smaller, less distracting mark, people will just crop or clone it away.

    Perhaps I’ll use a small unobtrusive signature when I start sharing work online, for the honest folks, but I think I’ve come to realize that the only real solution is to keep your unedited RAW files securely stashed away on external drives I case you truly need to prove your rights to the image. It’s like having the film negative in your files. The JPG (or whatever) are just prints. Once you put it online, it’s like taking a photo print out of your album and sending it away in an envelope, you never realy know what will become of it.

    • Yes I remember back in the good old days when we had to develop films and then just print them.

      Nowadays it’s a whole other story!

      Including a disclaimer or actually putting a small watermark is ok. I know that some people will go the distance to crop, edit and use software to do God knows what to them in order to make them theirs!

      You are right, having the original stored in a safe location and use them as proof that you are the rightful owner is enough.

      Still, we must keep an eye open just in case!

      Thank you for sharing your thoughts on this matter 🙂

  28. Pingback: When Sharing Is Stealing | Using “Found” Photos Online | Travel Shop GIrl

  29. I haven’t thought much about watermarking my photos as most them are uploaded to Fine Art America if I intend to sell them. Then I saw this today in my Facebook feed:
    It got me so angry it nearly ruined my day. I just got myself a smartphone and been adding photos taken with it to Instagram. I found a free app on Google Play for adding watermarks. I am still deciding if I want to keep doing the watermarks or not. I want people to see my photos, but I don’t want someone like Richard Price making money off of me. Just wondering if people ignore a photo because of a small watermark?

    • Thank you for your input John!

      Wow, I just read the article and I am in shock!

      I can’t believe someone has the guts and the nerve to take other people’s photographs and make profits while the actual creator or intellectual property owner has absolutely no clue their images are being used without any knowledge or consent. Now that is simply appalling!

      Just last week-end I had another case of someone downloading a collage of my photos and use it as their profile pic? What the?

      I left them a message asking them to remove it immediately and reported them to Instagram but the options offered to not exactly protect you, so IG is on to something as well.

      I did save a screen capture of the user with my image for a future post and guess what happened when they read my message? They blocked me! How convenient no? I wanted to tell them to watch for an upcoming post telling the story!

      Could you please tell us which app you use for putting watermarks to photos for Instagram? I’m definitely interested in using it!

      Thank you so much for sharing your two cents on this hot topic!

      All the best


  30. Pingback: The Art of Stealing Photos Online | Traveller Soul

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  32. Wow, I can’t believe someone actually stole your image AND claimed it was theirs!! Makes me so angry!! I often wonder about watermarks too, but I think I’ll keep them off for now. I might change my mind later down the line, but I just hate taking away from the picture. Thanks for sharing!

    • That was insane and to top things off, they said that it was taken somewhere over Jamaica when the original raw file indicates a different day, time and over the Gulf of Mexico. There are no two exact photos alike anywhere, that was just insane.

      The worst is that that travel pro, as she calls herself, was caught red handed and didn’t even bother to apologize, nor did she say she was wrong or did steal.

      I was fuming at first but then again I’m not the one with a bad rep now. Just claiming and fighting for what’s mine period!

      I too don’t like to overcrowd photos with watermarks but do appreciate if the person who wants to share it or use it (not for commercial purposes) to ask for permission and give me credit or link back to where they found it. It really takes only 2 minutes and there’s a better chance of me saying yes than going behind my back which is a big no no.

      Let us know what you decide to do. Adding a photography disclaimer on your site and adding specific terms to the ALT tags helps track them down on Google images 🙂

      Thanks for stopping by!

  33. Pingback: Blog Photography Tips for Bloggers - Travel Bugs World

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