Thursday, May 11, 2017

Why Watermark?

Over the past few months I’ve been blessed to have several individuals message me concerning “hot-button” issues that fellow photographers gave them conflicting advice about.   I’ll tackle Watermarking first – as I’ve picked on several photographer friends of mine recently for their watermarking strategies.
CAF P-51 "Red Nose" at Sunset in Atlanta, GA.

One thing we all know about photographers – they are passionate about their beliefs regarding their photographic endeavors.  I know that many will take issue with what I put forward here – but remember these are just MY techniques that satisfy MY aims for MY photography.

Why Watermark?

  I watermark my images because I want them to be shared, re-posted and distributed around the internet by people I don’t know and will likely never meet, without needing any text to explain who made the image.  I want the viewer to be able to find their way to my website which really is the center point of my online presence – linked to my social media presence and (sadly neglected) blog.

   But let that one sink in for a second -

  I WANT my images to travel further than I send them.  

  I don't want the watermark to interfere with the appreciation of the image, so I do NOT place it over the center of the photo, but rather off to one corner.  I make it semi-transparent to minimize its impact, yet still make the text readable.  Several photographers have asked why I am not concerned about people cutting off the watermark and re-using the image and I answer them with this:

  The off-center watermark allows me to set a trap for those who WOULD infringe on my images for personal gain.

 It's a Traaaaap!

  By placing the watermark along the edge of the image, I do invite nefarious photo-thieves to crop it out and remove my branding from the image for their own use.  But should they do that, they have demonstrated their intent to infringe, which makes my legal case that much more watertight.  It will still require me to 1) witness that the infringement has occurred and 2) decide it is worth my time or legal action to pursue.  However in several cases where people have removed the watermark and re-posted the image it has been as simple as explaining that their actions have demonstrated an "intent to infringe" and the perpetrators have removed the image quickly.

There is No I in Team

   The last reason I use the watermark style I do is to leave room to co-brand an image with an organization I am shooting for.  This ties in to an issue for another day - the infamous "shooting for exposure", which is a broad umbrella for a lot of situations that photographers find themselves in.

Lee Lauderback returns to the flightline with an incentive flight passenger

The image above shows this in practice with Stallion 51.  I spent part of a Sun N' Fun a few years ago working with them to capture images of their participateion in the fly-in, while still pursuing several personal projects during the event.  Their target audience was social media, so it only took a few minutes to transfer the desired image from the camera via WiFi, give it a basic edit and add a co-branded watermark.  What this provided me was a bit of free marketing as they posted the image within minutes of it being taken - and they got a "better-than-cellphone" quality image to generate interest in what they were doing at Sun N' Fun - in real-time.

   I hope this explains a bit of my rationale for why and how I watermark my images.  I always appreciate feedback and discussion, so don't hold back - (not that anyone on the internet would ANYWAY!)

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