In the photography world, some folks watermark their photos, and some folks don't. It seems like a really small decision in the grand scheme of things, and while that might be true, it's a very calculated one.
I watermarked my photos up until about nine months ago when I started sharing my photos without my logo or any other text. There are a few reasons why I do this, and why I think others may do it, too! This is one of the many decisions in business where there is no right or wrong answer, but I think it's interesting to hear why people do what they do! Here's my two cents.
1. It doesn't prevent stealing
T-Swift taught us that haters gonna hate, and guess what? Stealers gonna steal. There are a million and one ways to remove a watermark from a photo, and if someone wants to do that, they will. Heck; I HAVE DONE THIS! Multiple times I have download my own photos off Facebook, dragged them into Photoshop, content-aware'd or cloned my own watermark out, and uploaded that photo to Instagram, or to a vendor gallery when I was in a pinch. All it takes is some basic Photoshop knowledge or the ability to do a quick Google search, and that watermark is gone.
2. It doesn't look more professional
Please realize I am NOT saying it looks unprofessional; I'm simply saying it doesn't look any MORE professional. I spent years thinking my watermark was what made the image look like a pro captured it, but what makes it look like a professional image has nothing to do with having 'Mad Photo & Design' smeared across it.
This was a big realization for me when I started paying more attention to what some of my role model photographers were doing. It was eye-opening to me that when I looked to photographers who I admired and respected, none of them watermarked their photos. And yet, I could almost always tell who the image belonged to simply by the style. I thought, that is what I want; for people to be able to tell it's a Mad Photo image without needing a watermark.
That's a tall order, and it's never going to happen across the board (people who don't know me from Adam will never be able to identify my photos, and that's fine!), but I think as I develop an even more consistent brand style, it's an awesome goal. Not watermarking my photos reminds me that that consistency and style are so important to my brand.
3. It doesn't get me more clients
I am amazed year after year that 90% of my bookings come from referrals. Not social media. Not SEO. Not advertising. Pure, simple referrals from happy clients. I want to encourage my clients to share about me and their Mad Photo experience because it's 100% why I am still in business - and I feel like it's most inviting and encouraging for them to talk about that experience if I take down all the barriers. I don't want clients to be nervous about sharing images because they're not sure what the watermark means, or because they don't like the look of it. I just want them to share!
If you're a photographer, do you watermark your photos? Why or why not? Tell me what you do in the comments or on Facebook!