For me creating a photo is all about creativity and the enjoyment I get out of it. While most of my work is being done for fun, it also delivers ‘marketing’ material to my company Shark Cartel of our team riders and events we go to. And even to a smaller percentage, I’ve done work for external customers who are paying me to create photos.
Currently I’m doing a project where I release a photo a day, with 95% of them being an extreme sport related photo. I’m now doing this for almost 6 month and while it’s an intense daily exercise to continue it really adds value to my creative life.
For these 6 months I have been watermarking my photos with my personal logo. A small see through watermark in the right bottom corner, so everybody knows this is my work. This is somewhat a protection mechanism so that other people don’t take my photo and also a way to create my brand as a photographer.
The problem is: I don’t like watermarks! I find them ugly and they destroy the carefully chosen composition I created in the photo. They are obtrusive, as small as they may be and they are killing the experience I’m trying to capture with the photo.
So, are these watermarks really necessary? As a protection? For sure not! In the last 6 months I’ve had 23 cases of photos being (mis)used without my watermark on it. People used them as a profile picture and cropped it wrong, or just plainly put some filters over it which destroyed the watermark (and the whole picture). In short: if people want to get rid of the watermark, they can, the just remove the bottom or right 15 percent of the photo and tada: one ugly not correct composition of a photo! I would rather give them the photo without a watermark but with the promise they won’t change the composition then let this misuse happen to my work.
The other reason for watermarking was to create my brand as a photographer. Like a way of saying: Hey, this photo is made by Jorg, wow how can we reach him to see more of him! Well, it’s actually a pretty stupid reason, because all of the people who contacted me directly in the last 6 months came all through one of channels I was posting my daily photo too. The photos I post are posted on my website, Facebook, Instagram, Google+ and soon even more (as soon as I’ve correctly automated that process!). So for the 1000 people who see an image of mine, maybe a few don’t see it directly coming from one of my own channels. So how to fix this: I use the metadata part of each photo to store my copyright and contact information. While this might have no effect in a few cases (later blog post about this), in general for me this is enough.
So my choice: To preserve the creation, no more watermarks!