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Photograph Watermarks: When, Why, & How to in Lightroom

Great question from #Cazillion @dhlighter: Would you recommend that I should put a watermark on my photos that I upload to the internet?

This is an eternal debate by photographers and artists, should I protect my work on the Internet or make them look better without a watermark?  My opinion is use both.  One with a logo for the photo galleries and website, the other to send images to clients.  I use a big obnoxious watermark for client work when they are paying per image or per print.  If someone wants an image for Facebook or their Google+ Profile they can use the watermarked image and it will be obvious they didn't pay for the image.  Thats fine since I probably wouldn't have sold them anything anyway, mainly in an event photography job.

For website galleries I use my logo in the bottom right corner.  It looks good on all images and helps people to recognize my images.  That definitely helps when setting up a website too, looks good!  I use Lightroom for all of my exporting and this is quite easy to set up, check out the video to see how.  BTW, you can see other Adobe Lightroom Tutorials in this video playlist.

Bellagio Las Vegas

What do you think?  Should all images have a big watermark on them or not?

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0 # linda 2011-11-30 11:36
i will be starting to put a watermark in my pics, only trouble with a big watermark is it ruins the photo, one in the bottom corner can be easily cropped out as that has happened to a friend of mine, just wish there was a permanent solution to stop people from stealing our work and trying to pass it off as there own.. really gets on my nerves
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0 # Kathy Detweiler 2011-11-30 11:46
What about an invisible watermark?
I use those sometimes.
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0 # Gregory Cazillo 2011-11-30 11:51
I've never used it. Back when I looked into them the metadata containing the watermark could be removed.
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0 # linda 2011-11-30 13:29
lol, never heard of an invisible watermark?? know the basics of photography , i know you can digimarc your photos in CS5 but you have to pay for this service it tracks every photo you digimarc and tells you where your pics are being used and for what basically
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0 # linda 2011-11-30 13:30
* photoshop .. not photography
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0 # Gregory Cazillo 2011-12-01 10:23
See the additional video I just put up...cazillo.com/.../...
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0 # Tim 2011-11-30 15:54
I put one on the side. Easy to crop off if necessary.

I also license all of my photos CC-by-SA (3.0). I don't make any money off of them, but I do enjoy seeing my photos end up in publications and guide books. People always ask for permission.
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0 # David Stubbs 2011-11-30 19:18
Hi Greg,

Great video as usual! I have a question though:

After I have finished editing my images in lightroom, I export them to Jpegs. I then further edit my files (clone stamp for example) in CS5. What is the best way to watermark in this situation? My images are not 'complete' until after the photoshop phases.

Does this bring up another issue/question? I know you predominantly use lightroom, as do I, but if you need to use photoshop, how do you do this? Am I right in saying you can edit in photoshop through lightroom? I'm sure I've seen you do this in an old 'RAW edit' video? If so how?

Thanks Greg, I hope you can find time to answer my question.

Regards

David Stubbs (Mancheter, UK)
www.davidstubbsphotography.com
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0 # Gregory Cazillo 2011-12-01 09:58
I'll work on a video for this. Ideally you should be using PSD files to edit, import those into LR, then export your final jpegs for print or web from the PSDs.
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0 # David Stubbs 2011-12-06 17:16
I will look forward to this video, it will help me greatly
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0 # Susan 2011-11-30 19:46
I always put a watermark on photos. Mainly just a little "logo" in the corner. Now, when I upload to my site, my gallery has an option for a copyright symbol. I have that on my proofs. Its big and kind of "blocking" but since the images can be saved right off the site, I think its better that way. Even though I resize my photos and use 72dpi, people could still manage to print a 5x7 if they really wanted to. And I think people get the general awesomeness of the photo even with the copyright (lol).
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0 # Kevin 2011-12-01 11:35
Thank you Greg, You can see that you put alot of effort and research into what you do. The Love of Photography. Excellent !!
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0 # Jim 2011-12-01 19:21
Greg,

For Window users, they can also go to Accessories - System Tools - Character Map and copy it from there. Can have a copyright symbol in different fonts too if desired.
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0 # Kathy 2012-01-12 10:50
Good video. Confirms for me what I've been doing is right on. Yay!

FYI, for Mac users, the © symbol can be made by hitting "option" and the "G" key.
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-1 # Dave Gaskell 2013-01-15 03:10
Hi, I regularly shoot equestrian events, show jumping etc and I'm sick of seeing so many of my pictures screen grabbed and used on Facebook and other sites.

I use a bold watermark with my name and the year diagonally across the middle ie "(c) Dave Gaskell 2013" but people don't care. It's just so easy to take a screen shot and upload it to Facebook that a lot of people don't give the morals of doing so a second thought.

I challenged one Facebook thief after spotting almost fifty of my pictures from 2012 on her fb page without a single purchase ever and she said "Well it's free advertising for you." To which I replied the only thing it advertises and encourages is other people to do the same!

For 2013 I'm going to add the text "Duplication of this image is theft" to the watermark. Afterall who wants to see pictures with the word theft on their Facebook page?

I'm also going to be experimenting with a moving obscurer such that part of the picture is always covered as demonstrated here, www.davegaskellpictures.com/.. ./
This way they can see all parts of the picture but only ever three quarters at any one time and that's all they'll get if they take a screen shot. Ok, so they could take two screen shots and merge them but it puts a time consuming obstacle in their way.

Regards,

Dave Gaskell.
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0 # Tim in SF 2013-01-15 15:33
I've never watermarked my photos. I put an attribution on the side that shows the source.
Example (click on the image to see the attribution on the side):
plus.google.com/.../...

Legit companies and news organizations who have wanted to use my photos have followed the link back to my site to contact me to either get permission to run the photo or to purchase rights to it.

Yes, my photos end up on Facebook all the time and I couldn't be happier. Facebook sharing gets the photo out there into the world. Lots of eyeballs seeing and sharing vastly increases the chance that someone who might want to buy the photo will see it. And since no Facebook user is ever, ever going to purchase my photo for use in their personal Timeline, it's not like I'm losing a dime. There's no downside, whatsoever. There's only the upside that the photo will attain viral or iconic status.

I consider it stealing if someone other than me is making money off my photo without my permission. As such, nobody has ever stolen one of my photos. I've only ever had my photos shared or purchased.

Trey Ratcliff is one of the revolutionaries of HDR photography. Ratcliff makes boatloads of money off selling high-rez versions of his photos online. Ratcliff is overjoyed when people share the lower-rez (but still awesomely large) resolutions of his photos on their Facebook Timelines.

Here is Ratcliff's take on it: plus.google.com/.../...

I am happy when people look at my photos. I'm even happier when I get money for them.
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0 # Tim in SF 2013-01-15 15:38
Oops. I posted the wrong link to my example image. It's here:
picasaweb.google.com/.../...
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0 # Dave 2013-01-15 16:01
Thanks for your reply Tim.

Yes I see what you're saying and that's a lovely picture of a Cobra but to be honest I probably wouldn't have noticed the text down the RHS had you not mentioned it.

My event pictures differ a little though in that the only persons who are going to want a picture of a given horse are the people who own that horse in the picture. So if they like the picture and are happy with just a screen grab version I've lost a sale as there's no one else going to want a copy of someone else's horse.

So it's a bit different from selling landscape pictures and the like where I understand the benefits of people sharing low res versions helps promote that artist.

I've even been asked if I would be at a certain show jumping event to shoot a certain rider then made the effort to be there, made sure I've been in the ring when that horse and rider were competing. Then the following day they've sent me a friend request on facebook and their profile picture is one they've grabbed straight off my website from the previous day's event without a single purchase and my watermark straight through the middle. Can you justify that to me?

It's just too easy for people to take a screen shot and it's becomeing the accepted norm. What I'm trying to do is put an obstacle in their way to stop the opportunist just like locking your bike up in a public place. Sure there are ways round it but they have to put some effort in and then they may question the morals of doing so and leave it be.


Regards,

Dave.
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0 # Billie Jo Hopp 2013-02-05 23:29
Question: I read someplace that you can add a watermark in a specific way so that if someone were to copy and paste your photo that they would only get the watermark and not your photo..1) .do you know if this is possible and 2) how to do it?
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0 # Yve 2013-02-21 20:50
Been watching your videos all evening (stuck in hotel room and can't work)and your probably wondering why all the questions at once on different videos.Well now you know. Have a few more if you got the time,first,you have to save a pic from photoshop as a dng then import into lightroom and finish making your watermark there? On a slightly different subject about post processing,you shoot in raw,process and edit then save as psd. When you want to upload or print save a copy of the psd as jpeg? So you end up with a digital neg(raw)and a working copy(psd)? Hope I got that all right.thanks and really enjoy your videos. Actually just found out about them this evening and glad I did.
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