Why I Don’t Use Watermarks

Watermarks get In the way of the Image

This topic divides many people and many people are going to disagree with me. Many photographers tell you that you must protect your work and this makes beginners into believing this. Everyone is free to make the decisions on their own...for what works for them. 

As you might be aware, I upload a wide selection of photos to Unsplash. This means people are free to use these photos for commercial and non-commercial purposes. They don't have to credit but it's always nice if they do. Not all photos get loaded here but a fair percentage do. 

These photos are often ones that would have sat on a computer and never being set free into the World like they deserve. 

Over the years these photos have been used on blogs, charity sites and all sort of different websites and I love seeing what people do with them. It's lovely to see them getting the love they deserve. 

This hasn't stopped brands getting in touch and wanting a commissioned photo or an exclusive photo. 

So why don’t I use watermarks? Well...

  1. For me watermarks look ugly, they never add anything to the photo and often put people off of it. The ones plastered across the photo...they are just distracting and I find I don't like that photo. The worst ones are the watermarks in standard Times Roman font, no design or style has gone into it and I end up judging the photo based on that. 
  2. Good honest companies won't steal your images. Honest people will ask you beforehand and I like to think people are honest. 
  3. I often Google my name to see what images are shown and where they're being used. If that fails then  Google Reverse Image Search is a great tool and you can simply drag one of your images into the search and bingo! 
  4. If someone uses your images without permission then it's generally an easy one-way conversation which ends either with them removing the image and apologising or a settlement fee being paid. 
  5. Adding a watermark would be another thing for me to forget to do. You'd also need two saves, one with and one without. 
  6. Me uploading to Unsplash gives people the freedom to use my photos and in turn, helps my brand/name get to a larger audience. In a way, it's a form of advertising for me. 
  7. If you use Lightroom you can add a form of digital signature to each photo you export. So hidden in the file details are my name and website. Most won't know where to find or edit this so it makes it easier for me to find my images. 
  8. There will be people who steal your images, that's part of the photography business but there are also those who'll go to the effort of removing a watermark if needed. Keeping things in check will help maintain things but you'll never stop 100% of these cases.