Recently I was asked why I’ve started to watermark my images.

I realize that I reap the benefit of exposure when my photos are used on the Internet, which is a type of compensation. I’m good with that. However, if I don’t get proper attribution for my images then the benefit from the image goes to the person using it and I get nothing. I’m not good with that.

I now share my images at sizes that have commercial potential and surprisingly, that’s a smaller size than you might think it would be. Postcards, greeting cards, key chains, 5×7 prints, whatever. My sign says “All Rights Reserved” but I’ve found that a lot of people think it says “Free For Profit.”

So now I use a big watermark for any size image that I share, and I place it on my images in such a manner that if it gets cropped what’s left is an image with little commercial value.

I used to be opposed to watermarks, considering them to be a blemish on an otherwise beautiful work of art. Now I see why they’re needed, and realize that the work of art is the product I actually sell and not the product sample I display in the showcase window.

After using them for a while I find that I don’t even “see” my watermark in the context of my images any more. What I do see is the shape and size of the watermark. It’s a brand, and even though people will tune out the watermark once they get used to it, they’ll still subconsciously register the brand and know that the image belongs to me.