Properly Watermarking a Photo

Jun 02, 2011

Properly Watermarking a Photo

I see a lot of people who are trying their hand at photography (heck, I'm one of them). There are a lot of talented people out there, and they produce some excellent photos. However, one thing that has bothered me is how they've been watermarking their images. Here are some of the common "mistakes" I've seen.

The Original

Here is the original photo that I'll be demonstrating with:

That is one of the simplest examples we can use. It's a clean photo, a simple subject, and a lot of negative space; it's perfect for applying a watermark to show off our work and receive due-credit.

Now, let's see how we can ruin this photo by improper watermarking.

"I Need You to Know Who I Am"

This is probably the most common mistake I see:

I understand why new photographers would want to go that route:

  • You want people to know you took the photo
  • You want to solidify your new brand
  • You want to make sure no one can easily steal the picture and use it without your permission

Sadly, though, it is a very distracting addition to the image; here you have an awesome picture, and you've decided to plaster text all over it. Surely there's a better way than that.

"I Took This!"

This is better than the previous example, but still not the best solution:

The main problem that I have is that it is still too distracting. When I look at that photo, my eyes continuously go back-and-forth between the face and the text. When I look at a photo, I expect to be drawn to the subject of the photo, not anything added in post-production.

"Close, but Not Close Enough"

We're getting closer to a great product, but we're still not there:

To me, the logo is still too distracting. This photo would be great as an advertisement, but as an art piece, it feels like you're still letting the brand overtake the art.

So, What Should We Do?

Granted, this is opinion, but I think this is how watermarking should be done:

Keeping the logo small and out-of-the-way of the main subject gives a nice finish, and still gives us due-credit. The eyes are naturally drawn to the subject, but the logo is still visible and readable. I would also recommend sticking with one or two-color logos, and making sure that they have good contrast to the photo (that'll keep them legible).

Take pride in your work, but make sure people can actually see the work, and not just who did it.