First and foremost. The more I am in business, the more I am figuring out that it's really important to understand WHY you do what it is that you do or don't do. (wow, did that sentence even make sense?)
If you go around just doing things because everyone else does them, then you are most likely headed for some confusing times and upset clients.
Strategy is crucial and honestly it's a more comfortable place to be. When you are easily able to explain why you do or don't do something you appear more professional likely because you ARE more professional!
You have an understanding of the strategy behind your business and you can gauge when things are working and when they aren’t and make tweaks along the way.
Doesn't that sound a whole lot better than just seeing what Johnnie Photographer and Jane Photographer are doing and just copying them without understanding the foundation of why they are doing it that way?
Now, back back to the watermarks. YAY OR NAY?
I've landed on the NAY side of things for a few different reasons.
- I used to be on the YAY side, and please understand I have nothing against all of the lovely people who are currently on the YAY side of things. I've just decided they aren't for me for a few key reasons. -
There are 4 main reasons:
This one is pretty huge for me and it fits in with my branding and style. I like things to be simple.
“Making the simple complicated is commonplace. Making the complicated simple, awesomely simple, that’s creativity.”
— Charles Mingus
I like to make things screamingly simple for my clients.
Simple and functional to me equals beauty.
Back when I used to watermark anything and everything, life for me was anything BUT simple. Adding watermark files to Lightroom and Blogstomp, figuring out their placement on the various different photos, exporting for facebook or instagram became laborious, I would have a watermark on an image I wanted to share on IG but then it would be cut off because of where I chose to put it on the photo and so it looks stupid, and forget about choosing white or black!
Half of my photos you couldn't even really see the watermark b/c it would blend in or I would have to put it in a really distracting place where you could actually see it and on and on and on....
Does any of that sounds simple to you?
The day I decided to stop watermarking felt like a huge weight was lifted off of my shoulders. I was able to simply export my photos once, Blogstomp them if I chose and then they would just be ready for me. Ready to put in a blog post. Ready to put on FB. Ready to put on IG. No other worries around. Simple. Lovely.
---> Theft is unpreventable
One of the main arguments for watermarking your photos is that if you don't, others will steal them from you and then try to pass them off as their own.
Now don't get me wrong, I KNOW this happens.
However, with todays technology and minimal understanding of how a clone stamp works, adding a watermark to your photo in hopes that it will prevent someone from stealing it is kind of like locking the doors to your car but leaving all the windows down. Its really not going to do much to prevent someone who is intent on stealing someones work.
The only tried and true way to absolutely prevent someone stealing your photo is not to post anything online at all. Ever. And I don't know how many photographers in this day and age would be willing to go to that extreme. So take your precautions. Disable right-click on your website (which wont stop screen grabs). Upload photos at 72dpi instead of 300 (which would make the photo really difficult to print large or use commercially.) Keep your metadata up to date.
---> No measurable adverse effects
One other big argument on the YAY side for watermarking is promotion and marketing. If someone sees my photo somewhere on the internet and they don't see my watermark or branding on it, then how will they ever track me down and find me and give me buckets of money?!?!
Well, let me say this: I find it an extreme cheesy argument. If a potential client like your photos, will find you through the links that are connected to your photos, and moreover: where do you think your photograph is going to be found in the internet? Is not going to magically appear on some website on the other side of the world and if it does most likely the viewers are not your potential clients.
If that particular photos gets picked up from a magazine in China and you are a wedding photographer in Sweden, first they are supposed to credit your photo (and here is the link that will lead the clients to you), and second the chance that your beautiful chinese clients will call you over their chinese photographers is very rare.
My goal is for all clients of mine to GUSH about me whenever a friend mentions needing a photographer. In all transparency that is how I would prefer to be "found". I want clients to WANT to talk about me and tag me online, instead of feeling jilted or bitter when they crop out my watermark or don't say anything about me at all.
---> Challenges me
In that same vein of my photos having something to distinguish them amongst the masses, without a watermark it really challenges me to make my photos consistent and to have a style. There are many photographers out there who have mastered this and just by seeing their photo quickly in my feed I am instantly able to know who took it.
Their style may not necessarily be one that I relate to or personally aspire to achieve, but they are certainly distinct.
So there you have it. All the reasons I gave up watermarking my photos. What do you do and why do you do it? I would love to hear your reasons in the comments!