We have received some questions about our thoughts on watermarked digital images and prints, and it is something that we have discussed amongst ourselves, so here are our thoughts on the subject:
In a digital age, the possibility of images being used without permission for reproduction or profit is very real. With film, you either had the negative or print or you didn't. Typically professionals would stamp the back of their print or emboss a tiny copyright in the bottom corner and that was enough to protect the image from misuse. Today, with so may images being presented online, it is very easy to procure images - either legally or illegally. Frankly, for most of us who have been around photography for a while, large watermarks (logos, studio name, etc) on the front of final, full resolution images or prints are a bit...we'll be polite here and say distracting. No offense intended to those who use them, it's just visually quite different to the way things have been - we're grumpy and don't like change. If you are someone who uses watermarks on their final images, one thing to keep in mind is that when those images are enlarged and printed, that logo gets larger. And larger. And larger... So on a large print, that logo can potentially become several inches tall. If you know your client will be making a large print from the image, you may want to consider scaling the watermark down or removing it entirely.
Now, you might ask, without a watermark, how can I be sure that my images will not be misused? Well, there are many options, but here are a few options. One is to add your copyright information into the metadata of your images (either in camera or when you are editing/exporting your photos). Any reputable lab will see this data and will not print the image without a release. If you are posting your images online, upload a screen resolution image (72 dpi instead of a 240 dpi+ print resolution) so the image cannot be printed (well it can, but it will look terrible). If you are trying to promote your brand, you may want to keep the watermark on the online image, but we suggest taking the time to evaluate whether the watermark is distracting from the image or not (you may want to change the color, density, etc.). Or, if you are presenting a client with images you have printed, add your copyright information to the back of the image (with archival ink, of course).
Just a bit of food for thought. Now we need a snack.