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You spend hours upon hours getting the perfect photo. You love everything about it and can’t wait to showcase it everywhere possible – your website, blog, Facebook, Instagram, Google+. Then your worst nightmare as a photographer happens – a few months later you notice your photo is being shared around, but with absolutely no credit to you as the photographer. In the digital age we’re living in, this scenario happens all too often. How do you protect yourself against this type of situation? Watermarking images is a constant debate in the creative community. In this post we will explore the pros and cons of watermarking. We will also lay out a few other easy options to protect your work.

Pros of Using Watermarks

Beyond helping to protect your images from theft, watermarking your images can serve a few other purposes:

  • Free Marketing – Photos get shared on the internet (and social media) at an alarming rate. Having your logo, name, or website URL in a subtle place on the photo can act as free advertising for you. This is especially effective for wedding and portrait photographers; people will always share their wedding or family photos on their personal social media pages, which in turn goes out to all of their friends, and their friends’ friends. Having that watermark not only gives you credit, but drives potential customers to your work.
  • Professionalism: Watermarks (if done correctly) have the ability to make your photos look more professional. Watermarking adds a layer of commercial into your work and can help establish your branding, especially if you have worked hard to design your logo and want it to be immediately recognizable.

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Cons of Using Watermarks:

  • Distraction – If a watermark is not subtle enough, it can distract the viewer from the main subject of your photo and can sometimes look amateurish, cheap, or arrogant.
  • Doesn’t Always Protect Your Images – While watermarking does add an extra step for would-be thieves, it does not completely protect your photos. Even someone with very little Photoshop experience can easily remove most watermarks from images and pass them off as their own.
  • Less Sharing – Watermarks are a great way to get some additional advertising for free; however, people are less likely to share heavily watermarked images on their social media accounts. Furthermore, the people who are most likely to steal your photos probably never had the intention of paying for them in the first place, watermark or not.

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Watermarking the Right Way:

In an effort to combine the best of both worlds, here are some quick tips for watermarking your images in a way that allows you to enjoy all of the pros and experience few of the cons.

  • Subtlety Is Key – Place your watermark in the bottom right-hand corner with a low opacity. This method mimics what famous artists such as Picasso have done in the past to sign their work unobtrusively.
  • Class It Up – Another option is to place a strip at the bottom of your image that brands your name with a nice font but isn’t disrupting the actual photo itself.
  • Don’t Overload – Having your name, website URL, logo, copyright symbol, etc is overload for a watermark. Choose one of these items (your URL is a great way to drive people to where you actually sell your  photos!) and use only that on the image.
  • Hide Your Logo – If you want to get really fancy, you can incorporate your logo into the photo somewhere where only you can find it. This will probably only work if the images you create are very unique, less so for everyday photos.

Other Alternatives:

Let’s take a look at some easy alternatives to watermarking your images that will still provide you some protection from theft.

  • Don’t Upload a Full-Resolution Photo Online – For social media sites where sharing is rampant, this is extremely important and in the event that your work is stolen, will be an easy way to prove the original work was yours. If you sell your photos or prints on your website, you can always upload higher-resolution files there.
  • Utilize Your Camera – Most DSLR cameras will allow you  to add some metadata directly into your photography via a menu on your camera settings. This can help make sure that every shot you take has your name, copyright, and URL injected straight into the digital thread of your image.
  • Description + Google Alerts – Most digital thieves will not bother to rename your photos, so using a description that is personal to you and setting up a Google Alert for that exact description can help let you know immediately if someone has tried to publish your work online.

Lastly, make sure you are educated on the tools out there to help you keep track of your images. TinEye is a service that allows you to submit an image to find out where it came from, how it is being used, and if modified versions of the image exist. Google Image Search is also an easy and free way to track your images – you can enter the URL or upload your image to see where it’s been or see any images that look similar to it. Whether you choose to watermark your images or not, it is always best to make sure you register your photos with the US Copyright Office.

Sources:

Why You Shouldn’t Watermark Your Photos

The Pros and Cons of Watermarks

To Watermark, or Not to Watermark?

How to Protect Your Photography Online

Watermarking Your Images: Pros & Cons

 

Now that the initial flood of images from Haiti is subsiding a bit, photographers and bloggers are taking the time to go back and analyze the coverage from a visual perspective. It seems indicative of our shortened news cycles that we’re already looking back a few weeks after the deadly earthquake, but we’re happy to see it nonetheless. The most focused analysis happens on the BAGnewsNotes blog on Sunday February 7, when creator Michael Shaw will be hosting a “salon” titled “Haiti Aftermath: A Look Back at the First Week” with professors Loret Steinberg, Nathan Stormer, and Fred Ritchen and photographers Alan Chin, Erin Siegel, Aric Mayer, Tim Fadek, Chris Hondros, and Willie Davis. Chris Hondros has also shared his reflections on his time in Haiti in this slideshow for Foreign Policy and Colin Finlay discussed working in the country during a live event Thursday on LinkedIn.

Photographer Tim Hetherington won the top jury prize at the Sundance Film Festival for the documentary Restrepo, which he created along with writer Sebastian Junger, PDN reported on Monday. In 2008 Hetherington won World Press Photo of the Year in 2008 for an image from the same project, which focuses on a platoon of American soldiers at an outpost in Afghanistan.

Shepard Fairey is once again in the news since a judge announced recently that he’ll face criminal investigations after admitting in October that he “knowingly submitted false images and deleted others during the case in an attempt to conceal the fact that the AP had correctly identified the photo that Fairey had used as a reference for his ‘Hope’ poster of then-Sen. Barack Obama,” according to The Los Angeles Times.

Copyright was also on the tip of Mark Cuban’s tongue on Tuesday as the outspoken billionaire called Google and other news aggregators “vampires” and urged newspapers and other content providers to block their content from feeding into them. Check out the full story from MediaDailyNews for other choice words from Cuban’s keynote speech at an OnMedia event in New York.

Posted in Copyright / Photography

dpBestflowAfter two years of research by members Richard Anderson and Peter Krogh, ASMP announced the launch of its dpBestflow.org website at FotoWeekDC earlier this week. Shorthand for “Digital Photography Best Practices and Workflow,” the website, part of the three-tier project that includes a book and a traveling seminar series, aims to offer definitive guidelines for digital photography best practices and workflow.

Forbes Media announced yesterday that it has acquired digital magazine FlipGloss and its Digital Glossy Insert photo publishing platform. Launched about 8 months ago, FlipGloss combines search engine capabilities with the experience of flipping through photo content of a magazine, and users can click on objects in the photos to find out where to purchase an item or even be led to an advertiser’s website.

mr_foxWes Anderson’s new movie, Fantastic Mr. Fox, which opens in selected theaters today, is a stop-motion picture shot entirely using a Nikon D3 – over 600,000 stills that generate 18.5 terrabytes of data. According to movie review website IMDb, the beautifully art-directed adaptation of the Roald Dahl classic used Nikon D3 because it “offers a significantly higher resolution than even that of full High Definition.” Wired.com has a great “Making of” the movie here.

Google has cut the price for extra storage on its photo sharing site Picasa to about one eighth of what it used to cost. For $5 a year, now you can have 20GB photo storage on the site. “Since most people have less than 10GB of photos, chances are you can now save all your memories online for a year for the cost of a triple mocha,” according to the official Google Photos Blog.

A Photo Editor pointed us to some hopeful news about the future of the media industry. Maggwire.com is planning to charge readers a subscription fee to access a channel where they can get content from a large number of top magazines. On the other end of the spectrum, San Francisco-based McSweeney’s announced that they’re releasing a single-issue “21st-Century newspaper prototype” called San Francisco Panorama in December. It’s big and beautiful and nothing like a website — that’s the point.

The judge in the ongoing Google book settlement case ruled this week that photographers are not authors and therefore cannot be included as part of the settlement, according to TechCrunch. The motion to join the current settlement between Google and the Author’s Guild was brought earlier by ASMP, the Picture Archive Council of America, the Graphic Artists Guild, and several individual photographers.

Germany’s most popular women’s magazine, Brigette, confirmed with The Guardian that from 2010 on, it will be banning professional models from its pages and use only women with normal figures. Andreas Lebert, editor-in-chief of the magazine, said that he is tired of having to retouch pictures of underweight models to “fatten” them up. Conscientious has more on the story.

Last Wednesday, Toyota posted an apology on the Flickr forum admitting that they have been using pictures from Flickr without photographer permission. They have since removed the Flickr photos from their 4Runner website. PDN reported that Toyota USA’s ad agency, Saatchi & Saatchi Los Angeles, has reached out to at least one of the Flickr photographers involved.

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