Why do photographers watermark their images?

August 07, 2015  •  Leave a Comment

I have been reading LOTS of posts on line asking why photographers watermark their images. Some are nasty but I will say these people are ignorant and uneducated. Some say "it's because the photographer wishes to be more famous than their subject," "the photographers 15 minutes of fame." I also see a lot of amateurs post "I only shoot for fun, what the fuck is a professional photographer anyway?" "why should anyone make any money from taking photos?"

I will take this opportunity to address these uneducated people. Some have stated they wished they were able to make a career in photography but for whatever reason, they never did. Some reasons they may never have done so: they didn't know how, they didn't have the drive, energy and passion, they were not willing to make the compromises. There is not one single full time photographer out there who hasn't sacrificed things for their craft. Depending on their specialty, their phone can ring at any time and they have to be ready to run out the door. But more on all this in a future post..for now-the WHY do photographer's watermark their images.

It is NOT because we want any fame or notoriety. If you work hard and value your work, you will watermark AND copyright it so it is not stolen and used without permission. (Too) Many photographers watermark their images small and in the corner where it can be cropped out. This can result in loss revenue. I see more people getting nasty about photographers watermarking their images yet I never see anyone question why a writer does this, why a musician's name is on their CD, why a real estate agent has their name on their listings or on a board outside a house that just sold. All these professions (and more) do the same thing-our name goes on our work.With photographers, another reason is because in this age of the internet and twitter, Instagram, Facebook, etc..photos are shared. What would happen if a magazine saw it and wanted to run the image in their magazine (but images on line are too low in resolution to run in magazines.) Without the watermark, the publication will never be able to track down the photographer. I feel EVERYONE should watermark their images-not just professionals. WHY? For the same reason. Google "citizen journalist" and see how many people were the first on the scene of a disaster and took a photo..and how much some of those images earned. For everyone that thinks it is "cool" to see a photo or video go viral because you gave it away for free..just think about all those places using it (that could afford to pay) and that new lens or camera you could have purchased, or a nice donation a charity could have received.


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