This isn’t the post I am ‘supposed’ to be writing right now.
I was intending on penning a photo essay about the delightful food markets of France (and still will by the way). I had already dutifully perused my Lightroom catalogue and selected my images for the post but then a thought suddenly struck me…
“Oh I wonder if I should watermark these”?
And that was it. Enter stage left mental anguish and uber indecision!
Should I or shouldn’t I?
I am less than two weeks into my WordPress dot com journey and I ‘thought’ I had steeled myself into not watermarking my images here. On other blogs I have run previously and my personal social media channels it’s fair to say that I have been consistently inconsistent. Watermarking most images on my blogs (but excluding street art photos?!) but posting ‘clean’ photos on Facebook et al for fear of friends thinking
Gee look how good Saxon thinks he is watermarking his photography!
So I had decided that here on Thirty Summers I was going to leave the security of my images mainly to digital guardians such small image sizes, reverse-image look-up and EXIF data. That was of course until this French post got me (re)thinking!
As is oft the way with ‘creative’ types I can be more than a little fickle with my emotions – to put it mildly. Often finishing something after much craft, graft and toil to only say a matter of moments later – well gee I actually hate that and in some extreme cases deleting the whole thing. (Seems however that this somehow has made it through!)
And I tell you this background because it certainly was a factor in my decision not to watermark here. I see plenty of great photographers who don’t mark their works. Photographers that inspire me to get better, to aspire to become more proficient at the art of photography. I thought – well if they don’t do it it would be arrogance and hubris on my behalf to do so. So I haven’t – so far…
Contentment – NOT!
Even before today I have been trying, unsuccessfully, to convince myself that I have been totally happy with going watermark cold turkey. But who am I kidding. It’s been agonising sometimes.
A little like the feeling you have in your gut when you are doing a job you should do rather than one you actually love doing. Does that make sense? So with renewed indecision I set about Inter Webs today to find the definitive answer. Because there has to be a right or wrong? Surely…
The Pros and Cons
As I searched I came across this excellent article by fellow-blogger Maria Dreyer who likens a watermark to a stop sign. Dreyer eloquently says…
“Sure, some will blow right through it like it’s not even there… but for many, who follow the rules, they will stop…”
Very true and it got me to thinking. What exactly are the pros and cons, as I see them, of watermarking an image.
- Deter theft or sharing without consent (by most)
- Brand awareness
- Additional layer of security alongside meta-data
- Can be cropped out or removed using software
- Can detract from the image
- Time-consuming extra step (adding the mark to the image, where to place it)
- May limit sharing of image (attributed sharing)
Is Meta better?
As I mentioned at the start of this post thus far I have convinced myself just to let the meta-data behind my photos act as my safety-net here on Thirty Summers. There are a multitude of services out there that enable you to ‘reverse search’ for misappropriation of your images around the web such as IMG Embed or Pixsy. Easiest of all is good old Google actually. Just right click on your image as pictured below and have a check.
You can see from my energetic Asturian blacksmith above – sans watermark – so far I have held strong but I am definitely wavering. In fact crumbling would be a better term. The ‘rehab’ hasn’t worked. I need to be honest with myself and admit that I just feel more comfortable watermarking. And here-in I think lies the answer.
Do what makes – You – happiest.
Put quite simply there is no fail-safe protection against image theft. How many alarms, guard dogs or high walls you use only dictates how hard your images are to steal not whether or not they can be. But in saying that do you envelop your images with so much ‘protection’ that you suffocate the aesthetic? We photographers have such a fine line to tread. It would have been easier to take up tennis surely!
I begun this post – all the way back up there – torn and indecisive but some 800 words later I have clarity – thank you WordPress! I am going to watermark.
I will try to be as subtle as I can, I will take the extra time necessary to place the marks in positions that, I hope, distracts as little as possible. But ultimately I believe each of us have to make our own decisions. I’m now content with mine (for the next six minutes at least). I have also ‘slimmed down’ my mark a little to make it a little less intrusive…
Time now to go work on that French food market photo essay…
Update. 29 January, 2016.
Well it did last about six minutes. I’ve now decided that I am not watermarking. Riskier for sure but it is saving me a massive amount of time. The dual main ‘defences’ I am using when I post now are small file sizes and thorough meta and EXIF data.
Yup, of course I know these safeguards are about as water-tight as a bath with no plug but there you go… Wish me luck!