Why you SHOULD use watermarks

If you prefer you can comment in response to this post on Facebook here!

This is written in response to a recent post by Trey Ratcliff, ‘Why I don’t use watermarks’. I saw an opportunity, in timely response to Trey’s post, to express my own feelings about watermarks. As we’re friends and have even hosted a workshop together, I know Trey is the kind of guy who can handle a healthy heckler and so a disagreement is not taken personally. I even tweeted him in advance.

I’ve always liked Trey’s chilled personality and this is echoed in the first sentiment he expresses, that of not living in ‘an internet fear culture’ and hence not watermarking one’s pictures. In most things, I’m also for this stripping back of fear. In walking down the street at night. Preparing to jump out of a plane. Going for a blood test. Fear, whether irrational or founded, unnecessarily gets in the way of a lot of things in life, sure.

But there’s fear, and there’s recklessness. Trey says ‘watermarks are ugly’. In the same way that condoms or burglar alarms are ugly? There are three main strands I oppose Trey on: first, what I consider the curious misconception that watermarked work is never shared; secondly, the importance of protecting one’s work on the web and how that importance is increasing, and thirdly: the sheer relativity of what is deemed an ‘ugly’ or obstructive watermark and how this relativity blows all argument out of proportion.

I need to add that in challenging Trey’s post, I also need to refer to his routine of sharing full-resolution (6000px+) sized images online, which takes the discussion much further, and I will refer to this.

Watermarked work is never shared..?

First to say, I haven’t always used watermarks. I have shared my work online for 7 years, most of that work I have shared with NO watermark. I toyed with it for a period a few years ago, but then stopped. It’s only in the past few months I have started to routinely add watermarks. (There’s still a load of my previous work online without one.) But I have never noticed a difference in how often my newer work is shared and reshared, posted and reposted just because there was a 20% opacity ‘© MISS ANIELA’ in the corner, as above, which I used when I shared on Facebook. (I went further to add date and and title to another. I’m still experimental with the info I place and how visibly.) Trey says that people will link to your images more freely and openly without a watermark. I don’t get this. If the watermark is subtle enough it won’t make a difference, and besides, how do you know they’re going to put a link to you?

Why have I started adding watermarks? Facebook culture is one reason. I noticed that people were sharing my work by reposting on Facebook, and I was lucky to even get mentioned as the author, let alone get a link to my site. I don’t like the aspect of our internet culture where authorship is not respected or even acknowledged; where people greedily consume masses of visuals without understanding, or even noting, the origin. How would they be able to track me down to be able to learn more about my work, or buy a print or book, etc? If I leave my trust in people to credit me, and they don’t, my time and money that went into the production of my work is funnelled into a one-way relationship. (Please note, though, that I’ve also shared work that promotes a message, where I specifically state the image can be shared freely. That’s entirely a different ball-game, where the message of the image becomes all-important; a refreshing exercise but not one I am referring to in this post).

Humility vs rights

Now some will think, I should be grateful for anyone wanting to share my work. Yes, of course, I appreciate it: but without proper crediting it’s the same appreciation I’d have towards someone slapping my arse. I don’t believe artists should be scared out of moral codes by having the ’share and share alike’ adage waved like a stick in their faces to keep them quiet. Artists have rights, they work hard, and there is nothing wrong with admiring and sharing that work as long as respectful reciprocal acknowledgement is given. Something that took me years to learn is to take myself seriously as a professional, and this doesn’t matter whether you’re a hard marketer or not. Even if you’re the most soft-sell person in the world, and your artmaking is full of a pure love for artmaking, that love can get walked all over – by people out there who ARE running businesses, and have incentives that benefit them to use your work, often profitably, directly or indirectly! So that is how art becomes a business whether you like it or not, once you put your work out into the world via the internet.

So we’re debating whether a watermark is somehow boisterous, tasteless, or cheeky? Let’s put this into perspective by mentioning someone with very particular demanding standards: my partner Matthew. Recently an image of mine was shared on a popular FB page that is followed by thousands. My first reaction was ‘oh, that’s nice.’ However, Matthew’s reaction was ‘they didn’t link back to YOUR FB page.’ Despite the fact that my image was watermarked – and credited too, with my name – Matthew expected a reciprocal gesture, a hyperlink, that would gain me more FB followers. I wondered whether this was expecting too much. But he got directly on the telephone to request this change be made. An hour or so later, a link was added. Matthew always wants to go the extra mile, whereas some people would be happy with ‘their lot’. I respect those who go the extra mile, because that’s exactly where they end up. Sad truth is: you can’t always just be flattered that someone’s using your work. They’re used your work to benefit themselves in some way, what did you get in return? And don’t tell me ‘exposure’. That’s codeword for ‘you scratch my back, I’ll step on yours’.


One answer to protection is to add metadata. And I do, all the time. But, oh so handily, Flickr and Facebook strip that metadata like wool off a sheep’s back, hammering a big nail in the coffin of the so-called fearlessness of watermark-free living. Images end up floating round on the web, naked of their metadata, used and consumed for a variety of purposes, with only the TRUST that people who post and repost will add the textual credits associated with that image? The only way I can know for sure is by sticking my name onto the image itself, as part of the image.

The law

Now onto the MAIN reason I started watermarking my work: the law, in particular the Orphan Works Act, where images can be legally used commercially if a basic search fails to find the author. The current status of this act/law in the UK can be read at this link. Whether or not this will attract more illicit use of artists’ work, I’d rather someone be able to contact me directly – without hassle – and have no excuse to have not been able to track down the author. People in this business day and age don’t have ANY time, they don’t want to be doing reverse-Google searches and detective work! They just want to see, contact, make happen. And more and more time-poor we all become as a society… the more you want to do something simple to label your work in an ever-growing tsunami of potential carelessness on the vast web.

Trey states he registers all his images with a legal copyright (as one must do individually to work so that it does not become deemed as an orphan work) and that he takes on ‘many, many’ lawsuits with people who illegally use his images commercially. Thing is, not everyone can afford time or money to do the same. Even if they register copyright, most artists do not have the clout or budget to have a legal team chasing the wrongdoers. Making no judgement of Trey here, because I do not know how difficult or expensive those scenarios are, but living fearlessly watermark-less has its price. The more leniently you share your work, the more it will be take advantage of. It might even be a profitable permanent branch of one’s livelihood to regularly open lawsuits against plagiarists, but it’s not most artists’ choice of vocation. So it is a sensible and simple step to add a subtle deterrent watermark… and NOT upload a giant-size image of your work to the web, as I will talk about next…

Large image culture

I don’t want to sound like a I have a blame-culture attitude to social media when I say this, but uploading a massive file to the web is asking for it. It says, to me, ‘this is BIG-size, use this functionally’. People don’t generally want or expect to view massive images on the web, especially the smaller and more portable devices increasingly used to surf the web. I associate big files with downloading them for a reason… to make a print, most commonly. And if you’re aspiring to be a reputable artist selling prints in a controlled manner where you actually profit from the work you do, why would you share massive files freely and openly?

Of course Trey is free to do as he wishes, but is it really appropriate for everyone else to follow suit?

Sure, I love to show detail of the work I create, but I do this by posting cropped parts of detail, or video sequences exploring the image (such as in the Kai Face). It also means that people have an incentive to come to my exhibitions or to buy a print directly. The web experience is exactly that: the web experience. Unlike what Trey says, I don’t believe having a small (700-1000px wide) image, with a subtle watermark is going to affect the sharing appeal, let’s say sharibility – of your work. 99.9% of the web experience is through screen-size images that even on a monster iMac is not going to be much more than 1400px across. I think Trey’s article may unnecessarily suggest that no-one will share your work if it’s not massive and watermark-free. I find this absolutely untrue.

A contradictory situation…

Then, taking into account the legal insecurity over artists’ work and how it can be used when their work becomes disparately spread all over the web, it doesn’t help that there is a culture of sharing ever-larger images spawning wider with every new version of Facebook, Flickr, Google+ and the rest. It seems at odds with the legal landscape of how well your uploads are protected in the big REAL world of photography. Flickr’s CEO upon the launch of the new Flickr recently said something along the lines of the site not being for professional photographers anyway because we’re all photographers now. Couple that with Flickr asking for bigger-res images, and the fact it hasn’t stopped stripping the metadata. What picture does this paint for the professional sharing their images online? The whole concept of sharing is becoming uncomfortably democratic and decreasingly lucrative; one more heavyweight on board the sinking ship of the photography industry.

The tasteful watermark

Onto the issue of watermarks looking ugly. This is totally down to the size and style of them. I believe they should be small, discreet and a neat regular font. This might sound arbitrary, like stating your preference for the keeping of one’s hair on one’s nether regions. But I agree with Trey, of course you don’t want to see a garish watermark before you ’see’ the image. After all, photography is about the photographer’s visual skill, and most usually not about their graphic design skills. I’ve seen many an ugly watermark. But that doesn’t negate the use of watermarks entirely, in the same way you don’t have to use novelty condoms. If you’re reading this and you currently use a large watermark in a big garish handwritten-style font, I’d encourage you to simplify it into something more subtle. A nice watermark becomes about as offensive as a painter signing their canvas in the corner.

Yes, on some occasions I’ve looked at a watermarked image of someone’s and thought ‘wtf, why would you want to watermark THAT?’ but knowing that’s as politically correct as saying people below a certain IQ shouldn’t breed, I would not say to that person to take off their watermarks completely. Because whether you like their work or not, in theory they have the right to protect what they have created.

I personally like to keep my watermarks ‘out of the way of the image’, even 10% over the ideal size or opacity would bother me. I know my corner-placement of watermarks would not protect an image in the way a giant word etched repeatedly over the image, like Corbis or iStock, would protect it… and my watermarks could be cropped off or cloned out. But that’s where I draw my own, personal line. My own ‘living without fear’. I want people to enjoy my work. I want people to share it and not feel it disrupts their blog’s house-style. But for heaven’s sake let me at least be assured my name will be with my work. The watermark is simply informative – if not necessarily completely protective in the case of plagiarism, as I talk about next…

‘Legitimate companies don’t steal your work’
Case study: Kirsty Mitchell

As for Trey’s assertion that reputable companies don’t steal your work, I feel like laughing a husky ‘ho, ho’ at the risk of sounding sarcastic in response, but I have some astonishing examples illustrating this absolutely is not true. So-called reputable companies are no more immune from taking the proverbial plagiaristic piss as much as obscure ones that you never hear of. I will cite an example from a photographer friend, Kirsty Mitchell. Her image “The White Queen” was used illegitimately by a Malaysian government organisation (!) in Feb 2012 originating from a web-res file.

Kirsty says: “The file they used was only 800 pixels wide – I still have no idea how they blew it up so big but it must have looked more like a screen print in real life. It took 6 months of action till they finally admitted their guilt, and I could not have done it without legal help. Unless I physically took them through the courts which I could not afford to do, the payout only reflected the cost of designing and printing an advert in the Far East, which is basically a handful of USD dollars a day. My final payout after 50% was taken by my representative was £163. It was outrageous, I’m still extremely upset by the whole matter, I presumed I would receive a far more substantial payout from an official body. So reputable people don’t take your work? I’m sorry but I am the proof that is utter rubbish.”

“I only started adding a small watermark after this happened. I hate watermarks, but I now add a very small text name on my new uploads, especially in the light of the new copyright law changes in the UK. As for the sizing of files, my work is sold in very strict limited editions in galleries, there is absolutely no way I could risk the security of my work by uploading huge files, for me this would be highly irresponsible and dangerous. As for reverse search engines these are extremely basic and bear no real reflection on the amount of times my work appears on the internet. Who earth has the time to sit in front of their computer and repeatedly search for their entire photographic back catalogue every day as their way of  prevention? I certainly don’t!”

“I’m sad to say despite all the preventative measures I take I am currently dealing with another big case of plagiarism where my images have been manipulated and printed on clothing in the US. My final word on the matter is no matter what you do, limit your file size on the Internet, it is madness to give out big files, I cannot stress this enough.”


So if the offender is willing to go the mile to blow up an image and stick it on a billboard (not to mention decorated with a pattern of paint vomit), it’s fair to say that a tiny watermark wouldn’t have stopped them in their tracks. But instead of bolstering Trey’s argument for the uselessness of watermarks, this can either suggests that (a) a massive watermark WOULD have stopped them, though most artists would not want to use such an ugly interception; (b) big companies DO take the piss, and any deterrent that can be applied to an image should be used. An artist with an army of legal arsenal might be rubbing their hands at such a lawsuit opportunity, but expecting something to happen, like a traffic warden hiding behind a bush, is the kind of culture I’d prefer not to live in. So, I have the same vein of Trey’s easygoing sentiment, except I believe easy-going living comes via the exact opposite of what he says in his article. Frankly I think that putting out LARGE-resolution images, also un-watermarked, to me is like leaving your car keys in your ignition and door wide open.

I have to make loads of different versions of images for different uses anyway, so that is not an issue to me as it was highlighted by Trey. I would most definitely conclude in summary, that if you want to reduce the number of illegal uses of your work, then put your name on it, and don’t upload a size larger than you need to for the purposes of viewing as you want it to be viewed. Also take into account the nature of the kind of work you do  – landscapes / portraits / fashion and the differences in how it will be attractive to different (illicit) usages. There’s nothing shameful or arrogant in putting a name to your work, and the way you do it is up to your own taste and that of the audience you’re targeting.

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Posted in Essays, musings on June 30th, 2013 | 43 Comments |


Comments for “Why you SHOULD use watermarks”

    1. Matt
      2:39 pm on June 30th, 2013

      I have to say I agree with you 100%, although I don’t watermark much these days. But I’ve been seriously reconsidering, and will probably start doing so again as part of a Website redesign. What Trey does works for Trey; I don’t think it would work very well for others. There’d be an “oh, you’re just copying Trey” vibe, for one thing.

      Another example is screen grabs–those don’t come with metadata. Which materially impacts the orphan works thing, too.

      Have a great day, :)

    2. Gemma
      2:44 pm on June 30th, 2013

      Great article, I really enjoyed reading this, you are a very inspiring lady.

    3. Why you should use watermarks on your work.. | Kehpaphoto's Blog
      3:48 pm on June 30th, 2013

      [...] http://missanielablog.com/why-you-should-use-watermarks Like this:Like Loading… [...]

    4. Rich
      4:23 pm on June 30th, 2013

      Love it! So true, agree with almost everything you said. The reality is that when you use the small watermark in the bottom corner people just crop it out. I’ll go one step further and call it them what they are, thieves that intentionally will alter your images and use them illegally. Unfortunately I have had to go to the next step of adding large watermarks across the image and smaller files. Yes it’s ugly and it takes from the image but that’s what it takes to stop most people.

    5. CJ Madson
      8:26 pm on June 30th, 2013

      I’ve wondered about this for years, and avoided watermarking, but recently I’ve seen a big increase in one-directional “sharing” on Facebook, tumblr and other micro-blog/curator sites. Profiles and rights statements and metadata are ignored when they’re not stripped. All of this agrees with what you’ve written and the actions you’ve taken. I appreciate your deft balance of facts, passion and respect here (and elsewhere).

      As a test, I’ve been modifying popular images and adding a short awareness message (“Respect the work of content creators before they disappear”) along with my name. The first one has gotten a lot of attention, and I’m planning to extend that periodically with other images. I’m not trying to lock the door or sue, just put the consumers on notice that some access might disappear. We’ll see if it moves the needle. If we had a way to shut off a big chunk of image sharing for a month or so — and tell everyone why — I bet that would get some attention.

      I do respect the work and views of a pro such as Trey, but I daresay he’d likely align with your views if he were starting later and facing this huge image grab. I more often hear from the aspiring pros who are starting to do OK but suddenly see their work being enjoyed by thousands, and not hearing one peep back in their direction. Or the ones posting your/our work as their own. (And I’ve experienced all that as well.) I’d say that’s hardly social.

      Good on ya for all your efforts on behalf of the lot of us, and know that others agree and are trying to help push the oxcart up the hill.

    6. Nicole
      9:22 pm on June 30th, 2013

      Great article. I would like to also say that reading your site is painful because of your choice of black background and grey text. Especially when I switch back to a page with white background and black text. It is well known by now that most people will not spend much time on a site designed as yours is for this reason. It is difficult for the standard user to stay and read small text on a page like this. Please consider a light background with dark text for your pages that require lengthy reading. Thank you for your time and consideration.

    7. Chris Lord
      9:29 pm on June 30th, 2013

      After finding one of my images “pinned” on Pinterest over one thousand times with no credit to me at all I started putting a watermark on everything I post on social sites. I don’t use it on the sites where I sell prints because those sites usually have some sort of image protection and anyway I do want the images seen in their best light. I have been aware of Trey’s opinion on this for some time and he puts up a good argument but in the end I feel you are totally right about the need for watermarks.

    8. Shanti Gilbert
      9:51 pm on June 30th, 2013

      I totally agree with this article. I was in the “I don’t watermark my photos” bandwagon, until recently that many of my photos have been shared without any credit and worse many took the credit for the photos, and a lot of business started using them to promote their business. So now I watermark all of my photos.

      Thanks for writing this!

    9. Kel Hinkle
      12:08 am on July 1st, 2013

      I am a huge fan of Trey Ratcliff, but when I first read his article on why he doesn’t use watermarks, I thought he’d lost his mind. I’ve had some of my work stolen, and it pissed me off to no end. Like most artists, I didn’t have the legal means to fight it, and all I got was an apology and a letter sent to their clients stating the “mistake” that had been made.

      I need to be more diligent about watermarking, but I also do not put high-res files out for anyone to take.

      I simply cannot fathom a world in which you set your most valued possessions out on your front lawn, and seriously think they will not get stolen.

    10. Dwerek Golding
      1:20 am on July 1st, 2013

      I watermark all images now following a dispute with a national newspaper that used a limited edition print without permission and attributed the photo to the reporter!

      I’m also designing websites for photographers now and use a great script from codecanyon – http://www.oamaru.me/watermark

      Simply edit the script to show it where your watermark is and upload to the top level folder containing your images. It will automatically watermark every image when viewed. Great stuff and a great time saver.

    11. Andrew James Bramwell
      1:56 am on July 1st, 2013

      after experimenting with many formats, I thought of a shareable format which contains an image, description and an artistic frame with branding. Each image has a message that would increase the likely hood of being shared while ensuring origin is clearly identified. Even with screen captures, my protection is preserved. But are you prepared to self curate?

    12. Russ
      7:51 am on July 1st, 2013

      Great artical, i have always watermarked my images for upload. It does nt bother me greatly if they get used for social media/tubmler/pintrest as those markets are not going to pay for their useage anyway, I see them as an advertising outlet as each of the images have my url on them. it’s the big companies taking the piss that are the problem, but with little legal backing ther eis not a great deal we can do other than a massive watermark, which is not really ideal, or simply not uploading to the web, which again defeats the idea of using it as a promotional platform.

    13. Kieran Wright
      10:23 am on July 1st, 2013

      I usually only upload photos at a little smaller than a typical laptop background size – which might even be too big! But that is the size that most of my images need to be, to show the detail correctly and i live by that. I also custom place my watermark in each image so to put it in the location that has the least detail in it – maybe it doesn’t look as professional – but i personally like it.

    14. Neil Bonnar
      11:54 am on July 1st, 2013

      I really like Trey, his easy manner underpins a serious business head and no doubt he has gained commercial advantage in his chosen market – however his approach to watermarking in my view is just plain wrong. Having been ripped off several times by large corporates I tend to slap my logo over my images and put to the back of my mind the fact this detracts from the images artistically – pride over artistic content doesn’t put food on the table after all.

      The last time i was ripped off the response was quite blunt and one that I cannot report in a sensible blog such as this – it took 3 months of arguing to remove my images from a website and from their high street outlet, in that time (I am sure to spite me) this company used and benefited from my images for free – still cross over this.

      Super article and one to be shared.

    15. Philip Bateman
      12:51 pm on July 1st, 2013

      I hope whoever reads this article takes the time to read the one you’re railing against (http://www.stuckincustoms.com/2013/06/25/why-i-dont-use-watermarks/) – because unless I missed something, the 3 things you offer after saying “I’ve always liked Treys ** sentiment of ** not living in ‘an internet fear culture’” then goes on to say ‘but the 3 reasons I oppose him are;

      1. “The curious misconception that watermarked work is never shared” <– He doesn't say this, anywhere – he says NOT using watermarks and supporting creative commons increases traffic and "internet trust" which translates to search traffic.
      2. "The importance of protecting my work on the web is increasing" (so err.. fear)
      3. "My watermark is small so you saying it makes the picture ugly is irrelevant"

      I've hunted down photographers based on seeing a single image, because when you look at the image you can tell immediately, they are artists and on the top of their game. They are sought out 'lynchpins' of the visual story telling landscape if you want to get all Seth Godin'y about it.

      I wonder if all that time spent 'protecting' ones work and ensuring people know 'who made the photo' could be traded for the practice of making better art. Time well spent? A personal decision we all have to make.

    16. Miss Aniela
      1:03 pm on July 1st, 2013

      “So err… fear”

      No, a fact surely. People share work now more and more with no credit, just take a look at Pinterest. Then take a look at the implication of the Orphan Works Act. Then take a look at the multitude of examples of how other people’s work has been used and screwed. Then take a look at how social media sites strip metadata and demand/normalise bigger files. Join the dots and realise your work is part of a more unsafe – or let’s say ‘anonymous’ – environment than even 5 years ago.
      There’s more ‘fear’ involved for me in knowing that some pleb might post my image all over the place, than the ‘fear’ involved in putting my name simply in the corner. There is no ‘fear’ involved in watermarking, that accusation people make is a way to belittle people’s choices.
      Sure I’ve seen loads of bad images with huge watermarks, as I say in the article… but judging the habit of watermarking by their work is irrelevant.
      There are plenty of great artists who use watermarks, just take a look at that picture of Kirsty Mitchell’s – I don’t look at it and think ‘blimey if only she didn’t watermark it!’
      If the work is good enough, you won’t care for watermark or not. So paralleling the issue of watermarking with quality of photography is really a futile road.


      “all that time spent ‘protecting’ ones work…could be traded for the practice of making better art”

      ‘All that time’..? I spend up to 10 or even 20 hours sometimes making one of my composite pieces. It takes about 10 seconds to add a watermark.
      Equally arguably, the more time you spend on your work and your livelihood, the more you should do to protect what you put into it. As in many other life examples. I often get the vibe that these anti-watermark arguments exist only to intimidate or jibe at other people. By this token I wrote my article to give a voice to those who may have felt misinformed, jibed at or wrongly influenced by Trey’s – as Trey is very influential.

    17. Jack Reznicki
      1:48 pm on July 1st, 2013

      Wonderful article. Another reason to put even a discreet watermark such as yours is because removing it establishes “willfull infringement” in the US. That increases damages in court.
      And I agree that Trey is wrong about companies not stealing images. I lecture with lawyer Ed Greenberg here in the States, and there is no shortage of very large multi-national companies using unauthorized images. Beer companies, Sneaker companies, department stores, magazines, newspapers, and on and on.

    18. Mitch Labuda
      2:37 pm on July 1st, 2013

      These conversations generally revolve around opinions over something, no matter hard we try too, we cannot control, the actions of others.

      People or companies will copy, share, use, etc., regardless of watermark, etc.

      What, Ratcliff does is up to him and is relevant to him and his comfort level and or marketing plan.

    19. Jana l
      3:27 pm on July 1st, 2013

      ‘…decorated with a pattern of paint vomit.’ lol! well said. wonderful article!

    20. Elise
      3:38 pm on July 1st, 2013

      Great article! Thank you for posting this, Miss Aniela! :)

    21. erin
      6:14 pm on July 1st, 2013

      Great article, as a non-professional photographer who as a very active local blog I found that are repeated issues with people using my images for their marekting purposes, with no regards to credit, link back or permission. So I think this article works well for the professional and the bloggers who are out trying to make their mark in the world, their work is theirs, and link backs are not hard, but not the norm, unfortunately.

    22. Josef
      7:34 pm on July 1st, 2013

      I agree with both sides of the argument. It’s a sad statement on our times, but prior to digital, I have had it happen. The problem I see as “we all become photographers” or musicians or (fill in the blank) – the general view of a work of art or such is diminished. A down side of our “internet culture” I see everywhere – the bar is continuously lowered. And with it a loss of respect for the creator of the work. Ultimately, will we end up not caring who created what AND if we ever create anything? The article stirs up more than a question of watermarks for me.

    23. Barb
      9:09 pm on July 1st, 2013

      I read Trey’s article last week, and thank you for putting into words what I was thinking at the time.

      While I adore Trey and think he is a phenomenal artist, he needs to remember that we are not all at a point in our careers where we can implement the policies that work for him. As an example, I have a fine-art image I had sold dozens of copies of before it was stolen and plastered all over the internet (once it hits Tumblr, it’s over). The value of that photo dropped like a rock when it could be downloaded from dozens of different sources. While the loss would be insignificant to some, it hits those of us just getting started a bit harder.

    24. rick sammon
      11:26 pm on July 1st, 2013

      i agree 100 percent with you.

    25. marco
      1:21 am on July 2nd, 2013

      I came to this page with the preconception that watermarks are stupid, but you’ve changed my mind with thoughtful and logical arguments.

      So well done – you’ve changed my mind, watermarks (and/or footnotes embedded on the image) ftw!

    26. jason
      4:13 am on July 2nd, 2013

      I do appreciate all of your speaking points, but I still side with Trey on this one.

    27. Willem
      9:25 am on July 2nd, 2013

      Hi! Thank you so much for this post! I have recently been through something like this where a magazine went and cropped of my watermark … Printed my image which was very low res on the cover of a magazine!

      We have to protect our work! Ugly watermark and all!

      Thank you again!

      I will be making my watermark more subtle!

    28. Paul Griffiths (Artgriffo)
      1:35 pm on July 2nd, 2013

      Miss Aneila, thanks for posting this blog on the delicate issue of ‘to watermark or not’ and taking Trey to task. (Its going to be an interesting Treys Variety show next week, where this subject is going to be discussed at length.)
      I too have been a little annoyed with the comments made by Trey and Thomas on ‘why watermark, get it off” etc… Not everyone is so trust worthy out there and the majority of us do not have the financial clout to ‘war’ against large companies for financial compensation. I wrote (blogged) a lot about the orphan work Act which went through the Uk government recently, which when I first found out, really alarmed me and a number of my photo club friends in Kent and the UK.
      There is a lot of concern from amateur photographers about the usage of photos that have lost their identity mainly caused by the stripping of data mainly by top level social networking sites (Not Google+ and Eye’em I would like to add).
      I dont think it is entended by Trey and Thomas to be so blasée about it, but I think sometimes they need to realise the amateur photographer species is very protective of their work…
      Thanks for posting an argument to the watermark issue.
      My work is generally watermarked but also posted on my blogs (tumblr etc) and social networking so as to “backup” that the image belongs to me…

      Paul (Artgriffo)

    29. Doug Alder
      11:05 pm on July 2nd, 2013

      I have to agree with you 100% – even though I am strictly amateur and will likely never sell a single print I put a watermark – very small and just visible in an appropriate corner of all my prints. Ones I think might be worth something to someone I also use a digital watermarking service (Digimark). For one thing, it’s my work, my art (such as it is) so why shouldn’t I be so proud of it as to put my name on it.

    30. Voytek
      12:36 pm on July 3rd, 2013

      100% spot on, people these days can go as far as ceiling clowning out watermarks, the respect for the artist is near 0. in my expirience I had 2 people contacting me regarding usage of my images with a watermark and link to my page…Twice. enough said of respect? on other ocasion a fellow photographer had a great photo posted on a facebook page with watermarks all over it. She has noticed someone else used it as a cover photo, however the cover photo was downloaded directly from my friends website where the photograph was free of watermarks, but the copyright notyfication was below it. in response to take the photo down from the fb page, the person took the photograph down, and created seperate facebook page with the image adding a photo of a photographer with a hate mesage. Facebook has never taken down the facebook page. My investigation took me to the door of ITV where the offender works. How about that as a respect for an artist?

      All the best!

    31. Challenges Of Being a Wedding Photographer | Shireen Louw Wedding Photographer
      9:47 am on July 5th, 2013

      [...] Read article about this image and watermarking  [...]

    32. Darren
      4:20 pm on July 7th, 2013

      I find watermarks ugly, and (with rare exception) do tend to unfollow photographers who use them. Also, I’m not convinced that watermarks such as yours (I had to search in that first image!) are the sort Trey was talking about. The ability to spot an image-ruining watermark may be relative, but we have all seen them.

    33. Cyber Killer
      12:25 pm on July 8th, 2013

      You got it wrong… The small text (c) by someone in the corner of an image is not a watermark (ok, technically it is, but it’s not the point). It’s the artists signature, something that was used for ages and people do not think it’s anything bad.

      The true evil watermarks are like the ones that can be seen on deviantArt, where they obstruct a large portion in the center of the image and sometimes aren’t even transparent. These are the type that is hated with a passion, cause they make the image useless as a desktop wallpaper, or even they limit the way that someone can simply view the work.

      This is the important difference between them.

    34. coenrad Morgan
      11:07 pm on July 8th, 2013

      One reason I do not post images is the fact that some time back I was photographing a Cape Fur Seal Rehab. Next thing I know, a Singaporean company has my image minus my name on their site offering a t-shirt featuring my image. The sales pitch was a PORTION of the profit would go to the the subject, note A PORTION. In other words, they would profit from the image. It put me in a position, moan about it and I am taking a potential funding stream away from the subject, but the cheek of it and the total disregard shown to me really angered me. THEY, despite a PORTION of profit going to the Seal rehab, would profit, me, not a mention. Google+ and others need to take this seriously.

      On another occasion, pro-Namibian Seal cull activists on Facebook, took one of my images and totaly misrepresented the content, used it as “evidence”, a weapon of attack and twisted the context totally, with my name on it, without my consent.

      Many will berate you for watermarking your images, yet those very people have courses and photographic tours as primary income streams, their images are simply an add.

    35. Chris M
      5:39 pm on July 9th, 2013

      I like to follow Trey Ratcliff and think his shows are usually (mostly) informative, so was looking forward to the discussion yesterday (or the early hours of morning UK time).

      All in all the discussion was stacked to favour the opinion of Trey and his best buddy Thomas Hawk – great photogs in their own right but it was obvious from the get go this was going to be a biased show.

      Previous TR shows had referred to the forthcoming laws in the UK and the issue of orphan works so it was somewhat bemusing that a US lawyer (as good as she was) was on.

      All in all I was somewhat disappointed, and even though I watched it later this morning on YouTube, it was (unusually) laborious to watch as it really wasn’t a debate/discussion – it was hardly a level playing field for Miss Aniela – though as a Yorkshire lass she needs no assistance in being able to defend her point of view.

    36. Angela
      10:21 am on September 12th, 2013

      Thank you for your elegantly spoken words on this topic.

      I have Tweeted this blog entry for any and all to read.

      Bless you for the shout out that needed to be done.

      xx A

      Flattery or Insult: when someone stripped off MY watermark and replaced with their own

    37. What a difference a change of attitude makes. » Aisa Araújo Photography
      1:43 pm on September 25th, 2013

      [...] Why you SHOULD use watermarks (missanielablog.com) [...]

    38. Anni
      5:12 am on October 9th, 2013

      I recently graduated from university with an art degree, and am looking into the topic of watermarking my work that I want to put online. I’m just wondering what you think about the ease of removing a watermark? If you search online for that topic lots of results pop up. Is there no way to completely protect your work online?

    39. Cardinal Guzman
      12:27 pm on November 6th, 2013

      I agree with you and I watermark nearly all the stuff I put online. Some photographers/artists argue that you can use google image search, to search and find your photos online and that way discover “illegal use”. Many photographerss do this and then spend time contacting the companies, sending invoices, etc, etc. To me that’s too much bureaucracy and too time consuming.
      Watermarking is quicker and easier and you can spend your time creating your next image, instead of wasting it on being a detective…

    40. » Watermarks – Why I use them as an artist that is starting out in the business Justine King Photography
      4:47 am on January 11th, 2014
    41. Amin Riadh
      10:58 pm on January 24th, 2014

      “I noticed that people were sharing my work by reposting on Facebook, and I was lucky to even get mentioned as the author, let alone get a link to my site. I don’t like the aspect of our internet culture where authorship is not respected or even acknowledged; where people greedily consume masses of visuals without understanding, or even noting, the origin.”

      It is not always about receiving recognition. Sometimes, there is certain kind of liberation in putting work out there – and letting people do what the hell with it.


    42. Giff
      11:57 am on March 8th, 2014

      Great article, and great work you do, really inspiring for someone like me who just bought a DSLR and starts to enjoy the possibilities of photography.

      I do agree that adding something small referring to the author is important in this time when people just brainlessly share things they like without caring about the author.

      A silly question maybe: when your watermark is so small and at the edge of the picture, can’t wrongdoers just crop the watermark away?

    43. Miss Aniela | Ideas, Research & Development
      8:47 am on May 12th, 2014

      [...] Her visual style is very recognisable and I think her website (linked above) works very well with her images. The on-white view is clean and the images are large enough without being full screen. It also seems to load very quickly and be ready to scroll through a lot of images horizontally, which I think works very well. She has some interesting things to say about watermarks here. [...]

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