Why Watermark or Brand Your Photos

18 01 2010

Casey Moore's Bike Rack : Tempe, AZ
No one likes to get ripped off and no one wants to feel cheated – I don’t care who you are.

Question: Do you host your images on popular photo sharing sites like Flickr or Facebook? If you answered yes and you do not take a moment to brand or watermark your photos you are running the risk of having your images stolen.

The topic of this post started with a question asked by my friend Devon. He asked if I could address the pros and cons of watermarking or branding self published photos. Thanks, great subject for discussion.

CONS

Aesthetics: If you are not strategic with the placement and size of the watermark or branding it may take away from the image. When placing a watermark, copyright line or logo make sure it doesn’t draw the viewer’s eye away from the subject and screw with the composition. The perception of the value of the photo to a prospective client can be lessened if you are not careful with placement.

After giving it much thought this is the only con I see when when it comes to this topic.

PROS

The list of pros far outweigh the cons. For starters, people will know who took the photo and subsequently who owns its rights. If you include  simple things like the copyright year and your website (or wherever your portfolio can be seen) it tells the viewer how old the photo is and where they can see more of your work. As photographers I believe it is our responsibility to make things as easy as possible for clients to get the information they need.

Another reason to brand your photos falls under the lines as the second point – properly branded photos will increase traffic to your websites.

Personally, I prefer a branding line over a watermark that covers up the image. Although a watermark is harder to delete and photoshop out of an image, aesthetically it’s horrid. I use a simple two line branding mark that includes my website and the copyright date. (I know that in some cases this can be cropped out and removed but after giving it some thought I’m ok with taking that risk to preserve the integrity of the photograph.)

HOW TO BRAND A PHOTO

Here is a simple overview of how I brand my photos. I process my photos in Aperture and after I make my adjustments I export the image to a work in progress folder. From here I will open the exported file in photoshop, open my .psd branding file and drag it on top of the photo. After I give placement careful thought and consideration I save the file. I will then import the altered file back into Aperture and stack the native image with the branded image (in Aperture stacking allows me to view thumbnails of the photos I use.) The last step is publishing the photograph to the platform of my choice.

My .psd branding mark is comprised of white text on a transparent background. (Download my branding mark and alter it with your own text by clicking here.)

How do you handle branding your photographs and watermarks? Leave a comment and let’s discuss…

To view my complete photography portfolio please visit www.grtaylor2photo.com

GRT2 Self Portrait July 2009