Editors Note: I posted this back in July of this year and said that when I received similar questions in the future I'd repost it because people seem to like it. Jason
QUESTION- "Can I ask - has anyone ever said anything regarding the way you watermark your images? I for one believe it's beyond smart to watermark, but when I watermark people complain it takes away from the photos - and I use a 5% opacity... in the back of my mind I feel people that whine about watermarks either don't understand WHY we do it, or wanted to "steal
ANSWER- People seem to ask me about my watermarks several times a week recently. On mine, the opacity is at 25% with a drop shadow, spread three times across the image. I built a watermark that made the image still palatable for viewing in my opinion, yet protected my image from unauthorized use. I built it thinking of what would be hard for me to Photoshop out if I was trying to get rid of it. So far, I'm very happy with my watermark.
I agree with your assessment that the majority of people who "whine" about it as you say either have desires to steal it or just don't get it. People like to insult the the photographer by saying, "Really, who wants to steal YOUR images?" That's just complete baloney.
Le's stop being naive about what we do. These days the vast majority of clients don't even print much at all anymore. Virtually all packages are based on getting digital files in some way/shape/form. Clients want to be able to use their images on their iPhone, iPad, Facebook etc. They want to show them digitally. I can't tell you how many times I see my images used for people's profile pics, banner pics, etc. As long as my watermark is on that image it doesn't bother me as much because I know that I am getting the proper photo credit for that shot. Once someone yanks out my watermark...then it's on. I work too hard at my craft to have someone just steal my shot and I get zero credit. IT'S NOT JUST A PICTURE, IT'S A PIECE OF ART. Stop trying to downgrade our work to "just snapshots", because if that was all they were, you wouldn't want them so badly.
One more note....many "Big Name" photographers or truly Professional Full Time Photographers don't post their images on Facebook because they don't want the drama and don't want their images being used without authorization. They only use images on their websites, no where else. So I figure that sharing my images with a 25% opacity watermark is a lot better than not sharing them at all. As you know I post all my settings and explain my shots which 99% of the others don't as well, so I feel very comfortable doing it the way I'm doing it.
Last Note...Please keep in mind that I shoot and share images from my weddings, children shoots, pin ups, landscapes, and wildlife. I'm certainly not going to do different watermarks for each different genre of picture that I post. While one person may look at a wedding shot of mine and say, "Who's gonna steal that?" what they don't realize is that I might post a landscape shot of Africa the next day and plenty of people will steal that. Also, wedding photographers steal other people's shots all the time to learn posing...I've seen it in person at my workshops where people are showing me a posing book they've compiled and forgot that about 5 shots of mine were in there. When I immediately recognized the shots and told them, they were mortified...this is before I had a strong watermark....Worst case scenario someone photoshops your watermark out and claims it as their work. It's a reality folks. If you're good, people will steal your work. Get educated.
So, from this point forward when I get questions about watermarks I will post this article. There's no right or wrong way to do or do not do watermarks...there's just the way that works for you. Based on the response of Facebook to the shots that I post, people can still see the beauty of my shot while I'm able to have some peace of mind that my hard work isn't being used without my permission or at least me getting credit for what I did....