To Watermark, or not to watermark

SPOILER ALERT – I’m on the fence with this one.
Initially, that was a no-no for me on this popular topic. Mostly because I didn’t get it. Hence, all my work was without a watermark. I figured it took more from the image than it contributed in that it can be somewhat of a distraction.
Mmm, this is good. If only that logo wasn’t there”

Currently, I’m of the “different strokes for different folks” opinion.

Now, I understand the purpose of using it. The main one being, marketing. If you’re in the business of photography, you need to get your work out there, ALONG WITH your name.

It also serves as protection for when your work is used without your permission…to an extent. For your average joe, you may win here but nowadays you don’t even need a heavy-lifting editing app like Adobe Photoshop to remove watermarks. Especially subtle ones. See this example below of me removing a watermark by using a popular smartphone app called, Snapseed.

I’ve got enough shoots in the bag for me to have experienced some of my images floating around without any mention of the artist/tog behind it…namely, me.

People who do stock/lifestyle photography are more prone to have their images reposted…sometimes without any sort of usage rights given. There are two trains of thought here. People who do it in ignorance and other’s who are fully aware of it and completely abuse the system.

When it comes to watermarks, sometimes the cons outweigh the pros. See this (hard critiquing) article by Photoism.

For me, it became a matter of when to use it. That question can be answered by determining where the images are going to be used.
Most of my work is portrait photography which I post on my Instagram and Facebook pages. So when you find them there, it is clear who the artist is. In this case, a watermark would be overkill. The people I shoot have a keen sense of how things work when it comes to collaborations so even if they post the images on their own profiles, they always link to or tag mine. Again… no watermark necessary.
If I shoot for a brand, then I am basically selling usage rights to my work and in this case, I decide against watermarking my work as well.
When it comes to events, however, I decided to watermark my work. My mind jumps to many instances where I’ve seen someone tagged in a photo I shot for a client, using those images they’re featured in as DP’s and uploads without any mentioning of the artist. C’mon…word of mouth. Lol
As I’ve mentioned before, I have no doubt that this is done without any harmful intentions. Even if they were asked who the tog was, most of them wouldn’t know. At best, you may get “I’ll find out from this family member whose birthday/wedding/some other event it was.” In this case, the watermark does exactly what I intend it to. It directs you to the photographer.
You don’t want to be that guy who virtually raises his/her hand and be like, “yoo-hoo. that’s my work! over here!” whenever you spot your work on the interwebs. Let the watermark serve that purpose.

There are some general guidelines to using a watermark that doesn’t hurt your image but that’s a whole other post on its own.

With all this being said, I am not married to the practice at all. I think once you’ve established your feel or look, along with a healthy client base, you don’t need the watermark to do the heavy lifting for you anymore. So, I’m definitely planning on removing it as a real stamp of growth one day.
I created a poll and asked some of you about watermarks. Here’s how it turned out.

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