home . blog ...

Should you add a watermark to your images?

Sunday, November 20, 2022

Graphic of mountains on the edge of a body of water, overlaid with copyright notices

There's an eternal debate among creatives: should you include a watermark? These small graphics are often overlaid on a photo or illustration to identify the creator.

Although this discussion is usually held amongst photographers, it applies equally to other creatives. For example, if you're creating charts or diagrams for your blog posts, is a watermark to identify it as yours sensible?

Those who dislike adding watermarks point to how it can distract from the image's impact. They argue it can spoil the focus or composition, or make the design of a graphic somehow awkward.

On the other side of the debate, a watermark makes it easier to claim ownership of an image when it becomes detached and is shared on social media. Presenting a DMCA "takedown request," or even going to the extreme of a lawsuit, is far easier when your original has a copyright notice or watermark attached.

Another benefit not often spoken about is it makes life simpler for people like me who see things they like getting shared and want to see more of the creator's work. Let's be honest: a lot of what we click "like" on isn't being shared by the person who created it.

My photography often (not always) has a translucent watermark tucked away in the bottom left. Artwork is more likely to be found hidden unobtrusively. My recent graphics are more explicit, with a QR code embedded into the design.

Illustration showing the sun rising over mountains, with the light cast on a blue sea. And in the bottom left is a small fishing boat.
Fishing in the Inland Sea

If you're on the fence and can't decide whether to include one or not, here's another way of thinking about it:

artists and painters sign their work.

Why shouldn't you?

My name is Ross Hori

I'm a freelance writer, designer and photographer. By day I create articles, features and reports. At night I take photos and write fiction.

My socials...

click for LinkedInclick for Tumblr