Are watermarks pretentious?

Discussion in 'Open Discussion' started by Joltinjess, Sep 6, 2013.

  1. Joltinjess

    Joltinjess Mu-43 Regular

    Jan 6, 2013
    Port Moody, BC
    I've noticed a lot of photos on here lately that have watermarks. For most of them, my first thought is that it really takes away from the photo. My second thought is that the photo isn't all that special in the first place. I'm a beginner myself and realize that my opinion, of someones photo quality, probably doesn't carry all that much weight.

    If you have a watermark, Why? The internet is flooded with images, why would someone want to steal yours? Of course some people believe that their images are super special and valuable, but in most cases if you did a search you could find 1000 images just like it.

    Just a minor venting session for me. Am I off base?
  2. RoadTraveler

    RoadTraveler Mu-43 All-Pro

    Nov 23, 2012
    I don't use a watermark on my images (possibly should) but sometimes do include a copyright notice when I share images. Not that I'm a top photographer, but I typically don't share my best work online, saving it for other forms of communication.

    Even if a photo is not special, if one wants to exercise their copyright(s) in these times of flagrant disregard for such rights, it helps to assert them. Sometimes it's not clear now when an "average" image might be more valuable later, for a variety of reasons. [I'm not saying that I disagree, that some watermarked images do seem rather "average", but we are assigning our value to those images, the photographer may value them differently, and who am I to say what their copyright is worth.]

    Yes, the internet is flooded with images, including numerous that have been "borrowed" [stolen] and used or republished without even a thought or request for permission. Even when asking for permission would be easy, reasonable, and probably granted. This is simply disrespectful, inconsiderate, and often illegal, yet difficult to enforce. This is why my best images or any images that I intend to sell as part of an article I may write and publish are not shared; until after they have been sold and published.

    One of the problems with virtually everyone being "a photographer" (now more than ever with smartphone proliferation) is that the perceived value of photographic art is very low. The low value is not only a problem for those that might pay for the medium, but those who create as well. One way to retain and/or create value is to assert ownership.

    $0.03 :smile:
  3. darosk

    darosk Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Apr 17, 2013
    Kota Kinabalu, Malaysia
    If someone wants to steal an image on the internet, they're going to find a way.

    That said, I think watermarks are useful to a certain extent for the purposes of marketing/branding your work, if you're a working photographer. Exactly how effective they are is another question.
  4. jeffg53

    jeffg53 Mu-43 Veteran Subscribing Member

    Aug 22, 2012
    Sydney, Australia
    Jeff Grant
    As far as I'm concerned, anyone who wants to steal one of my 800px jpgs is welcome to it. You can't do a lot with an image that size. I know that my images have been lifted for various reasons, mostly by photo bloggers. My attitude is that I appreciate someone broadening my audience.
    • Like Like x 1
  5. slothead

    slothead Mu-43 All-Pro

    Aug 14, 2012
    Frederick, MD
    I had to look up "pretentious."
    • Like Like x 1
  6. jloden

    jloden Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    May 15, 2012
    Hunterdon County, NJ
    It's pretty basic... people swipe photos all the time. I don't particularly think my photos are so amazing somebody is going to steal them and make a fortune off of it. Heck, I don't even sell my work for that matter.

    But, I also don't particularly want to see my photos showing up on someone's commercial products/site, claimed as their own work, or whatever else. It hasn't happened to me yet (that I know of), but I know multiple people personally that have had photos stolen or misappropriated.

    Bottom line is a watermark isn't going to stop someone determined to steal a photo. However, as RoadTraveler said if you want to exercise your copyright at any point, it helps an awful lot to assert it in the first place.

    Having said all that, I'm a fan of making watermarks small, unobtrusive, and as out of the way as possible. They're a "necessary evil" as I see it so I want to minimize its impact on a photo. Not a huge fan of obnoxious watermarks right through the center of a photo.
  7. hazwing

    hazwing Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Nov 25, 2012
    I sorta agree with you, so I don't bother adding a watermark to my own images. But if other people want to add their watermark... I really don't care. I don't see this matter as an issue worth arguing about.
  8. jeffg53

    jeffg53 Mu-43 Veteran Subscribing Member

    Aug 22, 2012
    Sydney, Australia
    Jeff Grant
  9. nathan_h

    nathan_h Mu-43 Regular

    Jan 23, 2013
    I watermark pretty much all mine these days, but you'll notice it doesn't detract from the image (let's leave aside whether it's a great image or not!). I think plainly visible watermarks can be pretentious, but more importantly definitely detract from an image -- and anyone adept at photoshop can remove them, anyway. So if it's really about asserting one's rights, there's no need to make it obnoxious, imo.

    <a href="" title="P9010130 by nato-main-man-5am, on Flickr"> 9653237685_33d82e0316_b. "1024" height="723" alt="P9010130"></a>

    Attached Files:

  10. fransglans

    fransglans Mu-43 All-Pro

    Jun 12, 2012
    Pretentious, yes!
  11. gochugogi

    gochugogi Mu-43 Veteran

    I enjoy water images a lot and never tire of shooting waves, puddles and assorted reflections. I figure enough water already merely add my name and ©.


    Honolulu Harbor


    Palms & Sky
  12. agentlossing

    agentlossing Mu-43 Hall of Famer Subscribing Member

    Jun 26, 2013
    Andrew Lossing
    Yes. They are.

  13. tjdean01

    tjdean01 Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Feb 20, 2013
    Yes, I think so. If I want to use it on another forum or print it for my wall I'm going to do it anyway and just remove the mark in photoshop if I need to.
  14. CiaranCReilly

    CiaranCReilly Mu-43 Veteran

    Oct 18, 2012
    Ciaran Reilly
    If someone makes some or all their living from their photos, I think they're fully right to watermark their work and I can definitely look past the impact on the image.
  15. goldenlight

    goldenlight Mu-43 All-Pro

    Jan 30, 2010
    Pretty much my feelings, but I did raise an eyebrow when I found one of my pictures in the portfolio of a photography student in the Far East. I hope his tutor was suitably impressed and requsted a large print! :biggrin:
  16. flash

    flash Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Apr 29, 2010
    1 hour from Sydney Australia.
    I watermark everything. my kids eat on the back of my images so I do what I can to protect them. And if they're personal shots of my family I'm even more protective. Use new of my images I will come after you.
    And I have. But I know I cant chase the mongrels in some countries so I make it as difficult to steal as possible. I couldn't care less what any thinks of an image of that's mine that's watermarked. If you want to view anything of mine it comes with both a water Ark and a copyright notice.

  17. yekimrd

    yekimrd Mu-43 All-Pro

    Jun 14, 2012
    Cincinnati, OH
    I don't think it's pretentious at all. As we all love to share our work with others, I think it's just a way to brand one's work.

    I personally am not worried about people swiping my work (not that it's worth stealing anyways :tongue: ) The (very) few instances that I've seen my work pop up elsewhere (e.g. Pinterest, someone else's blog), I've been credited properly so I don't think the watermark is helpful really in that regard.

    I've gone back and forth with adding watermarks on my images. More recently, I did some pro bono work for my wife's boss and she requested that I leave the watermark in so it would look more professional. :wink:
  18. goldenlight

    goldenlight Mu-43 All-Pro

    Jan 30, 2010
    Pretentious? Moi?
  19. goldenlight

    goldenlight Mu-43 All-Pro

    Jan 30, 2010
    Given your profession that makes perfect sense (also your pictures probably are worth stealing) but to a dabbler like me it is less clear cut and comes down to personal feelings on the matter. I did once nearly jump down the throat of a commercial travel company who had used one of mine in their online brochure, but realized just in time that it was the only one that I have actually had licensed through Alamy! :redface:
  20. jamespetts

    jamespetts Mu-43 Top Veteran

    May 21, 2011
    London, England
    I am not sure that watermarks are "pretentious" - what are they pretending to be, exactly? They do tend seriously to damage the watermarked image (and those that do not, such as the tiny one in the bottom left of the penguin photograph, can easily be circumvented), and are only useful for commercial photographers showing samples of images online where the real (unwatermarked) image will be sold. In any other case, they are an intrusion.

    All of my photographs I upload to Flickr with a Creative Commons attribution share-alike licence, and make the original full-resolution pictures available to everyone. I have been delighted when some of my images have been uploaded to Wikimedia Commons, or used in local tourism websites or similar. Those who have used my photographs have, as far as I can make out, always followed the terms of the CC licence and properly attributed my images.
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