Posted in photography, Photos

Watermarking, Why Do You Do it?

Icons or watermarks, there are a lot of people that systematically mark there images. Im one of them-at least, I was until recently. Thomas Hawk is a social photography pioneer (I should watermark that statement). Whether it’s Flickr, 500px, or Google Plus, Thomas is at the forefront of the community. We have mutually encircled each other In Google plus-you place people in circles of similar people you are a fan of, inspired by, or enjoy what they do in the internet. If you are encircled by someone like Thomas Hawk you are certain to gain exposure from it. I happen to have recently been added to one his circles for photography. It’s like winning nobel prize. He shares his circles with the hundreds of thousands that have encircled him to give people an opportunity to enjoy what he enjoys-this is my interpretation.


In thanking him, he gave me some feedback that spurred a passionate dialogue with my wife, and some introspection on my part. He responded to my comment-something he does often at all hours of the day and night. In his response to me he wrote, David your watermark is heavy-or something along those lines. I replied and asked if heavy was good or heavy bad. He then replied sometime later, heavy-bad for me, sorry. I never thought of how a watermark on my image-something i created in Lightroom when i first bought it years ago and forgot about- may be interpreted until then.

I was on the morning train to work when I read his last reply. I turned to my wife, my commuting buddy (with benefits) and made a pouty face mimicking my son Noah. Imagine someone just told you that your breath smelled. You’re shocked at first. You cup your hand to your face and test the air you exhale because your breath didn’t smell bad to you. That’s when you turn to your wife and ask her “smell my breath” (provided she’s not the one that made the revelation of your foul smelling mouth). Imagine the horror you feel after she confirms it with a devilish grin. That is how I felt when my wife confirmed Thomas’s feeling.

She came to the same conclusion after seeing three images. I chose one on my iPad and she shrugged an said “thats not bad”. The next warranted no verbal response. She merely shrugged indifference. The last image however, she gave an involuntary “whoa boy”. “What is it”, I asked. She looked me in the face and said sadly, “I think is obnoxious. Have a breath mint.”

Fundamentally, my images are my own. My style is all my own. This conviction has been solidified by my co-organizing some NY based Photowalks for fellow G+ photographers. You can look at an image an have 15 people surround it. The majority of the shots will seem similar, but, there will be something different.

There is and has always been an underlying concern of digital piracy. Since the first sites you old post to. This is MY image and you are not going to take it. When I post my images online, I typically send them directly through Adobe Lightroom. Facebook, Flickr, and my Zenfolio gallery are typically populated this way. Google plus currently is the only place I manually submit images to-until someone creates an add on for that, of course. One of my settings on automatic is to watermark the image with my name.

My style is my watermark going forward. I don’t want my image to compete with my branding. I want my images to tell a story. I don want that story to be “this is MY image. Look, but, don’t touch”. Thomas Hawk inspired this blog post. Thanks for inspiring me to look at my body of images differently. Thanks for continuously being supportive of the photography community and of me at all hours of the night.



Hello and welcome. I am a NY based photographer that subscribes to Phototgrapher Rick Sammons' concept of "specializing in not specializing". I want to shoot anything and everything. With that said, shooting street photography has become a passion, an obsession, and recently, a movement. "Street is to photography what Jazz is to music" - Dave Ortiz Life is all about demonstrating passion and it's this passion that I strive toward memorializing in my images. There is beauty everywhere even in the mundane and it's isolating those moments or expressions creatively that makes all of the difference.

2 thoughts on “Watermarking, Why Do You Do it?

  1. Even with all the discussion–and evident disdain–lately of watermarks, I still do it. I try to make it small and unobtrusive. It’s nice to have a “style”, and I’m still working on that, but how else are people who don’t know you going to even recognize your style if they don’t know who you are? True, on Facebook people will know–but they’re already your friends; and on G+ your name is there but at this juncture in time how many really could look at your work and say, “Aha! That’s his!”, without having looked at your name first? You’re either good enough that you’re most likely already “known”–or your hoping that you get good enough to be proverbially discovered.

    From the bits and pieces I’ve read randomly on G+ I’ve noticed that the photographers who abhor the watermark are usually already established pros. They don’t need to inform the world who they are because the world (or the world they live in) already knows them. Were someone to steal their photos it would be soon know–as evidenced by that big kerfuffle on G+ a week or so ago with someone posting other peoples’ shots. To me, it’s not about my photos getting stolen (in a way it would almost be flattering 😉 ), it’s about recognition. Not ego recognition, mind you, but at some point I’d like to be good enough to be able to travel and shoot like those same people I admire.

    I’ve read several tales on G+ of people uncircling others for the mere fact that they watermark. That reeks of elitism to me. Not a quality I admire….

  2. My photos are not great works of art, but they are usable for stock, editorial illustration, and other crass purposes. To protect my income from these uses I must prevent them from becoming homeless waifs with no identity – I must claim ownership. Ergo, watermark. Without it I lose my rights to my intellectual property.

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