• Cameraderie, a friendly photography forum, join now for free! Welcome! 欢迎! स्वागत हे! ようこそ!

Watermarking? Is it just digital graffiti?

Boid

All-Pro
Dec 15, 2011
123
Bangalore, India
Rajiv
Oh wow. Stunning replies indeed.

Let's start with Magnum's opinion on the matter. They used to watermark their pictures, they don't any more. By Bob's logic, they must have stopped making a living from their photographs -
Magnum Photos Home

Gordon, a watermark does detract from looking at an image, and unfortunately to me it signals that the photograph was most likely taken by an amateur, who is more intent on protecting his image, than presenting it well. So in that sense I will continue to judge it and move on to other images that haven't been maligned. If however, it gets you more work, keep at it for sure.

Bob, the guy running a Photoshop webinar class, I'm assuming, could have cloned out the watermark with ease and used your image anyways. How does watermarking prevent that?




The purpose of the original post was to point out that watermarks are ugly, and in most instances, an UN-necessary evil. Somehow the entire thread became about theft. I call *cough* bullshit. In my opinion watermarks are at best a work of desperation and at its worst (as Gary points out) acts of unfettered narcissism.

The thinking behind putting up a watermark goes like this -
1. My images are getting stolen
2. I must do something
3. This is something
4. I must do it



Ok, now on to solutions to the problem of theft -

1. STOP uploading print sized images! If your photograph ends up in print without your approval, stop making it available.

2. Use CC licensing to share your images

3. Recognize that your images will always get stolen and there's nothing you can do about it WITHOUT DEFILING YOUR IMAGE. Let me re-iterate that. There's... nothing, nada, pfffft, diddly-squat... that you can do about your image getting used on the web. So as Gordon pointed out, ex post facto you can send DMCC take-downs or notices etc, for the images to get taken down. In MOST regions of the world, that will achieve NOTHING. If your image gets hosted on a Chinese server on a Chinese website, best of luck getting a response to your DMCC. So suck it up.


Solutions on generating awareness -

1. The idea for this post originated when I came across an article, where a photographer was giving away prints of his work by leaving them hanging on walls in various parts of the city. GIVING AWAY his work to generate awareness about who he was, and the kind of work he did. There are 3.5 trillion (!) pictures that have been taken till date, 380 billion of which were taken last year, so if you have ANY perspective at all, recognize the fact that your image needs ALL THE HELP it can get to make the best possible case for itself out there. A watermark makes your image that bit worse.

2. Teach! If you actually know how to make an image, share how you did it. In fact, do the exact OPPOSITE of what a watermark sets out to do. Here's a wedding photographer who doesn't watermark his images - Ryan Brenizer — NYC Wedding Photographer. Problem solver, storyteller. » "Work is Love Made Visible." --Kahlil Gibran and actually has a 'photographic process' named after him.
 

Landshark

PhotoDog
Jul 15, 2010
123
SoCal
Bob
Oh wow. Stunning replies indeed.

Let's start with Magnum's opinion on the matter. They used to watermark their pictures, they don't any more. By Bob's logic, they must have stopped making a living from their photographs -
Magnum Photos Home

Gordon, a watermark does detract from looking at an image, and unfortunately to me it signals that the photograph was most likely taken by an amateur, who is more intent on protecting his image, than presenting it well. So in that sense I will continue to judge it and move on to other images that haven't been maligned. If however, it gets you more work, keep at it for sure.

Bob, the guy running a Photoshop webinar class, I'm assuming, could have cloned out the watermark with ease and used your image anyways. How does watermarking prevent that?




The purpose of the original post was to point out that watermarks are ugly, and in most instances, an UN-necessary evil. Somehow the entire thread became about theft. I call *cough* bullshit. In my opinion watermarks are at best a work of desperation and at its worst (as Gary points out) acts of unfettered narcissism.

The thinking behind putting up a watermark goes like this -
1. My images are getting stolen
2. I must do something
3. This is something
4. I must do it



Ok, now on to solutions to the problem of theft -

1. STOP uploading print sized images! If your photograph ends up in print without your approval, stop making it available.

2. Use CC licensing to share your images

3. Recognize that your images will always get stolen and there's nothing you can do about it WITHOUT DEFILING YOUR IMAGE. Let me re-iterate that. There's... nothing, nada, pfffft, diddly-squat... that you can do about your image getting used on the web. So as Gordon pointed out, ex post facto you can send DMCC take-downs or notices etc, for the images to get taken down. In MOST regions of the world, that will achieve NOTHING. If your image gets hosted on a Chinese server on a Chinese website, best of luck getting a response to your DMCC. So suck it up.


Solutions on generating awareness -

1. The idea for this post originated when I came across an article, where a photographer was giving away prints of his work by leaving them hanging on walls in various parts of the city. GIVING AWAY his work to generate awareness about who he was, and the kind of work he did. There are 3.5 trillion (!) pictures that have been taken till date, 380 billion of which were taken last year, so if you have ANY perspective at all, recognize the fact that your image needs ALL THE HELP it can get to make the best possible case for itself out there. A watermark makes your image that bit worse.

2. Teach! If you actually know how to make an image, share how you did it. In fact, do the exact OPPOSITE of what a watermark sets out to do. Here's a wedding photographer who doesn't watermark his images - Ryan Brenizer — NYC Wedding Photographer. Problem solver, storyteller. » "Work is Love Made Visible." --Kahlil Gibran and actually has a 'photographic process' named after him.

First Magnum has team of Lawyers, something the average working photographer does not have at the ready all the time, they let the little stuff go but do chase down commercial users. Most everyone including Magnum who makes a living creating and selling images has lost money because of image theft. As I said before, my images were stolen way before the internet, theft is the problem.

Secondly If you read what I posted I never said watermarking stopped anything, I said it helps to establish a timeline of ownership. Also not all of the thieves have the photoshop skills to remove it and they may decide to just leave it.

Third your logic chain is weak and full of gaps and jumps to attempt to support your agenda
on the subject.

Your solutions are weak and naive. One thing you are right about, watermarks are a weak solution, but yours are no better.

Because one photographer decides to give away images to market themselves does not mean it would or could for work everyone else. Great logic here all photography for free because it is not "art". It belongs to the world.

Or the other example we should all teach because photo skills belong to the world.

What do you do to make a living because it is for sure not photogrphy.
Do you also enjoy stolen music, books and films. It's ok because they are not "art" either
 

Luke

Super Moderator
Nov 11, 2011
214
Milwaukee, WI USA
Luke
I think sometimes people need to just agree to disagree. Everyone has made some great points, but I don't want to see this turn into an argument. And it seems to be veering in that direction.

Don't make me get my moderators cape out of the closet.
 

Pelao

All-Pro
Jul 11, 2010
123
Ontario, Canada
Stephen
I think sometimes people need to just agree to disagree. Everyone has made some great points, but I don't want to see this turn into an argument. And it seems to be veering in that direction.

Don't make me get my moderators cape out of the closet.
You didn't get the memo from Amin?

It's now a thong.:eek:
 

Landshark

PhotoDog
Jul 15, 2010
123
SoCal
Bob
I think sometimes people need to just agree to disagree. Everyone has made some great points, but I don't want to see this turn into an argument. And it seems to be veering in that direction.

Don't make me get my moderators cape out of the closet.
I am sorry I cannot "agree to disagree" on this subject.
So I will just bow out of this discussion
 

Luke

Super Moderator
Nov 11, 2011
214
Milwaukee, WI USA
Luke
Just to be clear. I wasn't calling you out Bob. It was a warning to everyone (currently in the discussion...and those on the sidelines who may join in) to remain civil. The topic is a good one. I've learned a lot.
 

Boid

All-Pro
Dec 15, 2011
123
Bangalore, India
Rajiv
I won't be responding to Bob's comments anymore. (I did! A bit later)

This post however has been most instructive to me personally, since it's given me an insight into how photographers think about their image making, and it's not pretty. Also in the course of looking up about watermarking on the net, I have come across the strongest arguments yet about it, which are the following -

1. Putting a watermark on an image pre-supposes that someone is going to steal or misuse it. It shames your audience, particularly the innocent ones.

2. It takes away from the 'moment'

These are very strong arguments against slapping on some text on your image before you send it out to the world. Be mindful of it please.
 

Gary

All-Pro
Aug 19, 2012
123
Southern California
Gary Ayala
If I was a commercial photographer ... If I wanted to make some bucks through my photography, I'd watermark and toss in a phone number. I'd watermark for advertising.

I am 100% against thief. I would think that at least 99% of the people on this forum are also against stealing.

I see watermarking as a bonafide and affective marketing tool with minimal effect against thief.

Gary
 

KillRamsey

Super Moderator
Jun 20, 2012
124
Hood River, OR
Kyle
First, let me say that as a regular shmuck running around snapping pictures of his kid and stuff, I find this incredibly interesting and a little bit heart breaking. I can only imagine being good enough to take shots that someone else would even want to use with permission, much less go to the trouble to steal. The anecdotes about having your work stolen and then going on to "win" contests or sell products is both fascinating and a little bit horrifying. I would be boiling-hot angry.

Second, I sympathize with Landshark Bob. He doesn't owe his talent and hard-earned ability to anyone. No one has a stake in what he produces, nor a right to demand it from him. And he's good enough that what he produces moves people very effectively, so his images have a lot of power that mine (for example) don't. His images have value. But more importantly than the theoretical defence of his work is the fact that he puts food on the table with that camera, so when his images are stolen by someone else and used by them to generate money, they are literally affecting his livelihood. If I found out that someone had found a way to divert $150 out of every one of my bi-weekly paychecks without my permission, what would my response be? And why should Bob's be different? Not to be closed minded, but I don't think there's an answer out there that would convice me.
 

Gary

All-Pro
Aug 19, 2012
123
Southern California
Gary Ayala
I was working a motorcycle show when a guy walked up to me and handed me a small brochure for his local BMW riding club. It had one of my photos on the front. I say, "Hey, that's my photo." He say, "No, one of the guys in the club took the shot." When he wanders off, I bring up my photo on my iPad. Sure enough, the branches and pebbles on the road are an exact match.

I go home and start Googling (Google Images, click the camera icon and upload your own photo) and find over 30 cases of the photo being stolen without my permission. All over the world. Not just individuals looking to win an online photo contest (for real), but charities and for-profit companies. One company even used it on a Facebook inspirational poster and got over a thousand likes and hundreds of shares.

After all of this, it's the one image I have online with a watermark.



Good luck cloning it out.
PS- Being handed the brochure must have surprised the hell out of you. How pleasant was your confrontation? Your story is very entertaining.

Thanks,
Gary
 

KillRamsey

Super Moderator
Jun 20, 2012
124
Hood River, OR
Kyle
The trick in all this, by the way, is that "stealing" isn't as black and white as we'd all probably like it to be. Using a clever phrase you heard someone else say while giving a talk you got paid for (etc)... it gets tricky. Somewhere, somehow, there's almost always something in your life that someone could argue you stole. Just a thought.
 

Luckypenguin

Hall of Famer
Dec 24, 2010
123
Brisbane, Australia
Nic
As a non-commercial, amateur photographer I thought I might explain why I don't watermark images.

Firstly, I make money and use some of it to buy cameras; I don't buy cameras and use them to make money. Big difference right there. I also find the ownership of images to be a grey area. I take images, I don't make images. I don't own the content and subjects of the images that I take, so I don't claim to own an image in the traditional sense of owning property. I have freely given copies of or permission to repost images before for non-commercial use, and declined to sell/license them for commercial use. I'm not making a living from them and any form of credit or kudos I get for an image is just part of the fun. BTW, I would consider images taken for my own personal use as distinct from being commissioned to take images for a specific purpose (wedding, product shots, etc).

Image theft happens the same as any form of theft happens, and if not to me then perhaps to the next person who doesn't place big watermarks over their images. I would be annoyed to discover that someone had used something of mine for direct gain, but the biggest value I take from an image is my ability to view it. As long as I retain a copy this ability thankfully isn't diminished. I upload images to the internet primarily for my own benefit and use, and I like to be able to view them in their original, unaltered state, if not the original resolution.

If I was using photography to make a living my views might be different, but with that not being the case my views on the subject are what they are.
 

Isoterica

Hall of Famer
Dec 6, 2011
123
LOL ... Inspired by your instructions for tracking images ... I toss a few of my images in Googles and discovered I've won a few photo contests, most recently with this image:
with correct attribution and all.

Gary
With correct attribution, so then did you get mystery prizes?

Going by the responses so far, I'm waiting for someone here to sing paeans on how much better an image looks with a watermark on it.
No one has said they look good.. I haven't seen one poster here say that :) In fact I believe the consensus is that they are ugly looking. Butt ugly.

What I have seen is people express that sometimes a watermarked image will be overlooked by the average thief and in those instances, some loss will be prevented. Knowing that not all losses can be prevented all the time, some is.. at least some-thing. Preventing some loss is better than preventing no loss in this case and for the professionals, that is their meal on the table. They might not get a steak after some loss but they will get dinner.
 

pdh

Legend
Jan 2, 2011
123
I don't understand how Bob's post could be seen as uncivil. As so often, he seems to me to be right on the money.
Expressing clear disagreement with someone else's views or arguments doesn't mean one is being uncivil.

Progress in understanding complex issues is engendered by clear and straightforward debate, and Bob is one of the few people here to have the depth of professional "chops" to enhance the debate with decades of practical experience.

Just, as they say, "my 2 cents" ...
 

Isoterica

Hall of Famer
Dec 6, 2011
123
I don't understand how Bob's post could be seen as uncivil. As so often, he seems to me to be right on the money.
Expressing clear disagreement with someone else's views or arguments doesn't mean one is being uncivil.

Progress in understanding complex issues is engendered by clear and straightforward debate, and Bob is one of the few people here to have the depth of professional "chops" to enhance the debate with decades of practical experience.

Just, as they say, "my 2 cents" ...
Hear hear!
 

Luke

Super Moderator
Nov 11, 2011
214
Milwaukee, WI USA
Luke
Boy, that Google image search is fascinating. I just found a business that is using an image of mine to sell wood flooring. Does anyone have any generic invoices already made up. I'll love to send them one.

Because I'm not a commercial photographer, I don't think of things in these terms. I shoot photos to enjoy and share with others. But this business exists to make money, and a budget for photos for advertising should be part of that. Here's the website...... HOME and my photo on flickr
View attachment 60096
horse jump and fence by Lukinosity, on Flickr
 

Latest posts

Latest threads

Top Bottom