In today’s digital world, it’s easier than ever to steal a photograph. You don’t have to look far on Tumblr or Pinterest to find pictures posted without attribution or original links. Maybe it’s already happened to your own work. That’s why finding a way to protect your photos is so important—and for many bloggers, that way is watermarking.
What Is Watermarking?
The term “watermarking” comes from the traditional practice of watermarking important documents to authenticate them, which essentially meant imprinting the documents with images that would show up only in certain lights. When it comes to digital photographs, watermarking is the practice of overlaying a logo or image on top of your photograph as a way to identify it. The overlay may contain your name, your initials, your company name, your logo, or some combination of these things. Then, when someone reposts or copies the watermarked picture, your name or brand image goes with it, protecting your connection with the work.
Benefits of Watermarking
Why would a blogger watermark his or her images? Does doing so make sense for you? Here’s a look at the benefits:
- Promotion: There’s a reason bloggers like Pinterest: It’s right up there with Facebook as a traffic source. Clearly then, the problem isn’t that your pics are getting pinned but that they might be pinned without links, which is a problem pretty hard to prevent. When images from your site get pinned or posted without a link, your watermark is like your visual advertisement, pointing people to your site.
- Ownership: A watermark identifies you with your photos wherever they are reproduced and verifies your ownership. While Pinterest and Tumblr users may still swipe your work, at least your name will go with it—so when someone wants to find you, it’s not difficult.
- Protection: While many social media users spread content without attribution in pure ignorance, others have far less innocent motives. At least with a watermark, you deter the theft by making it harder for content thieves to swipe your work and pass it off as their own. Note that watermarking cannot ensure your work won’t be stolen; however, it may be a good deterrent.
- Simple: Adding a watermark isn’t difficult, and it can be done quickly and simply through any photo-editing program. Once you’ve got a logo or image with your name and brand saved, all you have to do is add it to your photos before posting them.
Drawbacks of Watermarking
Despite the benefits of adding watermarks to photos, many bloggers opt out. Why? Do the drawbacks of watermarking outweigh the benefits? Here’s a look at the downside of adding watermarks to pictures.
- Distracting: If you place your watermark in a small corner or side of your photo, you make it easy for a content thief to crop out that part of the picture; but if you place your watermark in the middle of your image, you run the risk of distracting your audience with the watermark instead of focusing them on your work. Watermarks may protect your work, but they also may keep viewers from seeing it fully.
- Unattractive: Besides being a distraction, many watermarks are unattractive. They can greatly alter the way an image comes across by corrupting the purity of the original shot.
- Extra Work: Adding a watermark to each of your photos isn’t hard, but it is an extra step. Extra steps take time and slow down the publishing process. For some bloggers, this alone is enough of a reason to skip it.
In the end, the decision to watermark or not to watermark is up to you. Is stamping ownership on your photos more important than keeping your pictures pure? Would you rather take a step towards photo protection or saving time? Consider the pros and cons of watermarking and make the decision that works for you.