10 Tips On Watermarking a Photograph – Watermark is Art
by Darwin Zialcita
There has been an issue stirring about the photograph property rights lately within my photography group. In fact it has been a perennial dilemma since digital photography existed. I for example, have been a victim of plagiarism when random people claim that a photograph of mine belongs to them. That is why I decided to write about it.
First, let us admit it, once it is online — it’s going to become everybody’s property. Social media would spread the photo you upload like wildfire and there’s nothing you can do to stop it from being downloaded and used by others. That is why professional digital photographers watermark their images.
However a lot of photographers think that watermarking an image is just an easy task by batch processing it, a watermark should always be well thought of. Honestly, I really am not a fan of watermarks that are huge and bold. They are obtrusive and they ruin the beauty of the image. Who wants a grotesque image that looks like a stolen stock photo?
Let me share some tips on proper watermarking.
1. Minimalism – a very small font text at the corner of the image is the best looking watermark. This is very common and it is the most professional looking of all methods. You can write all the Exif info of the photograph or even just your nickname. This method is very clean and unobtrusive, however this method can be easily be cropped by any plagiarizer.
2. A watermark is a part of the photograph. – Yes, it is not just a text you randomly put over your image. Whenever you take a photo, consider where you will put your watermark in your post processing. The watermark should part of the composition when taking a photo. As a magazine photographer, I imagine where the writer will add his paragraphs, sometimes I put enough space for and overcast sky, a clean tarmac or a very blurred background with a smooth bokeh – a very nice place to put a watermark.
3. The watermark is still art, follow rule of thirds. – place it in a way that is pleasing to the eye, not just sticking it dead centre into the photo. See also number 2.
4. Imagine what a plagiarizer will do. – Think like a criminal to catch a criminal. Imagine how a photo thief will crop your photo. Put your watermark in a way that when the person crops away your watermark, the image would be utterly useless. Put it also in a way where a clone stamp will be hard to use.
5. Typography!!! – A watermerk is usually made of a text, choose the right font. Observe proper kerning, font size, not too fancy, not too boring, very readable and never use comic sans. Typography is a whole new world in graphic design. Google “typography” and you will know what i mean.
6. Colour – white is the safest colour for a watermark. But, you still have the freedom to choose your colour as long as it blends with the photo. Put your watermark over the part of the photo where it can be easily be visible. If it is white, put it over a smooth and dark area of the photo, like the vignette at the corner. I like using white watermarks even on bright photos, sometimes I use the burn tool to darken the area just to put my white watermark over it.
7. Be creative with the name – choose a nice name for your watermark that best describes you and your photograph. You can use your real name, your company’s name or just a nickname. Some photographers write the photo description with the whole EXIF data and some do put their URL or twitter account. If you are a fashion photographer, you can just put the name of the model. Nothing wrong with that. Depends on the purpose of the photo.
8. Use opacity – I usually forget this but this helps a lot if you want your watermark be inscopicuous.
9. Try to consider Creative Commons – it allows you to license your photographs. It is like copyrighting for the general public and artists. Try to research more about The Creative Commons if you are interested.
10. KEEP THE ORIGINALS! – Before adding watermark always have a copy of the ORIGINAL! Many fall into this dodgy trap. Batch automating 1000 photos with watermarks then realize you made a wrong spelling on your name. You are going to have a bad time. You can use automators like ACDSee Pro (very reliable), Picasa, Lightroom, and the very mighty Photoshop.
Hope you liked my short article. Watermark responsibly!
Darwin Zialcita is a professional MotoGP and racing photographer from the Philippines. Also fan of extreme sports, outdoor sports, contact sports and travel photography.