If you're placing your photographs on the Internet, you'll want to make sure you protect your rights to those images. The best way to protect digital photos is by learning how to watermark your photos.
With a digital photo, a watermark is a faint logo or word(s) superimposed over the top of the photo. The idea of placing a watermark on your photos is so that others will not want to try to copy and use the photo without permission. Many Web sites use watermarks to show that a particular image is copyrighted, and it may not be copied and used elsewhere without the permission of the original Web site.
It's important that you use watermarks properly, and the tips listed below can provide that information. After all, if you use a watermark that's too small or faint, someone could easily crop or edit out the watermark and steal the photo. And if the watermark is too large or dark, it will dominate the photo, compromising how it looks.
Choosing Watermarking Software
Watermarking photos is a pretty easy process, as long as you have the right software. Within a few minutes, you probably can complete watermarking on dozens of your photos. You have a variety of options for how to watermark your photos with software. Here are some of your watermarking software options.
- Adobe Photoshop. Adding a text watermark in Photoshop is very easy. Just use the Type tool and place a text string over the photo in gray. Edit the text to make it look like you want.
- Digimarc.com. The Digimarc for Images software (at Digimarc.com) can watermark your photos invisibly and then search for places where your photos are being used on the Internet for $49 per year.
- PlumAmazing.com. For about $20, you can download a Windows version of the iWatermark watermarking software from PlumAmazing.com. The site also has Mac, iPhone/iPad, and (soon) Android versions of the software.
- Watermarker.com. AiS Watermark Pictures Protector also costs about $20 and can be downloaded from Watermarker.com.
- WinWatermark.com. With the WinWatermark software, you'll find many options for watermarking your photos. There's a free version, a standard version ($30) and a pro version ($50) at WinWatermark.com.
Creating a Watermark
You have several options for the actual watermark to use with your photos. Here are a few ideas.
- Copyright. Place a copyright symbol in the watermark, and there's no question that others cannot copy the image without your permission. In word processing software, the copyright symbol usually is available using the Insert menu and the Symbol command.
- Image. You can create an image that you then superimpose over the photo. For example, if you have a logo, use an image watermark.
- Text. Use a text string as the watermark. For example, you can place your name, your business name, or a description of the image as the watermark.
Placing a Watermark on Your Images
To place the watermark on your photos, follow these steps.
- Select the photos. You really only need to watermark photos that will appear in a public location on the Internet, where others can easily download them. Additionally, you only need to watermark photos that you don't want others to take and use without your permission. So don't feel like you have to watermark every photo you have ever shot. Instead, save yourself some time by only picking certain photos for watermarking.
- Make copies. You obviously do not want to place a watermark on the original and only copy of your photos. Make copies of the photos you to watermark, and then place the watermark on the copies, thereby protecting the original photos.
- Select the method. Select the type of watermarking software you want to use, and decide whether you want to watermark all of your photos at one time or watermark the photos individually. If you watermark each photo individually, you can make sure each watermark is placed in the location on the photo you want and looks how you want it to look. However, that process is more time consuming than watermarking a group of photos at one time.
- Select the type and size of watermark. As mentioned earlier, you must choose the type of watermark you want to use. Additionally, you'll need to select the size of the watermark. A large watermark covers more of the photo, making it almost impossible for someone to just crop the watermark out of the image. As you can see in the photo included above, someone could crop the small watermark out of the image, leaving a large portion of the image still usable.
- Apply the watermark. Using the software you picked earlier, just apply the watermark to your photos. This step probably will require the least amount of time.
- Upload the photos. As you upload your photos that now contain the watermark, make sure you're uploading the correct copy of your image. You don't want to spend a lot of time uploading photos, only to realize later that you uploaded the original copy of each photo that doesn't contain the watermark. You may want to create a specific folder that only contains watermarked photos to help you avoid confusion.
The Bottom Line
If you choose to watermark your photos, you obviously have to deal with the fact that the text or logo will sit on top of your photo, negatively affecting the look of the image ... which, of course, is the idea of the watermarking process. However, some photographers don't want to see any text on their images -- they'd rather allow people to see their photos in the best quality possible -- so they'll choose not to watermark photos. You'll have to decide whether watermarking is for you, choosing whether the time, expense, and effect on the photo of a watermark is worth the security of knowing no one can use your photos without permission.
With the invisible watermarks, you can avoid the problem of making your photos look odd, but you will have to track down anyone using your images, which can be time consuming. The visible watermark makes it obvious that others cannot use your photos without permission, while an invisible watermark might not make it quite as obvious.
There are a lot of factors to consider when deciding whether you want to watermark your photos. Fortunately, adding the watermark to your photos doesn't take long at all, and it is an easy process.