Do you watermark?


New Member

So I have been looking into ways to protect my photos online so that no one else can just take them and use them. Security settings on my online portfolio only go so far. Watermarking, however, seems to be a good idea, but I am just wondering how effective it really is. I know that if the watermark is at the bottom of the picture, you can just crop the photo and remove it. On the other hand, if the watermark is behind the main content of the photo, it disrupts the photo - but keeps it arguably safer. But can even these watermarks be edited out?

If I want to watermark, what is the best method and how do I go about doing this? Can I do this on my own, or do I need to go with a company or service that handles this?


Staff member
Don't kid yourself, if someone wants to steal, they steal.

I have A0 prints in a Cafe in town that has DRAFT and they are all A4 lo-res blown up to A0.

Best way to protect yourself is to put a copyright notice on your site. And if you find anyone using your images without permission then take legal action.

But only make lo-res version available and people can request hi-res.


Staff member
You could consider a low res on 'public' site and then have a login area where they are required to register with valid details including address and agree to specific terms for a slightly higher res view.


Well-Known Member
Medium sized low res photos, I wouldn't bother to watermark. Higher res / larger photos I would subtly watermark across the center. You can also use invisible watermarks, if you want to watermark your photos without people seeing / knowing they are watermarked. This will also provide further evidence should someone steal your photo, as you can then reveal it's hidden watermark. Copyright is obviously most important, but if you have your work online, I assume you are already doing this?

All these measures of protection are all well and good, but the chances of you finding out if someone has stolen a photograph of yours is pretty slim anyway, unless it is used in some major media outlet or on tv or something along those lines.


Well-Known Member
You say that but this is really good for online use:

If we see any of our stuff re-used without permission we send them a bill in the post :D

Yeah there are a few sites like that, and that is handy, but I would assume more often than not, someone that is going to steal a photograph would be doing so with the purpose of printing it. If they are going to use it online on a website, then they are pretty foolish, as even a google image search would eventually find them.

Paul Murray

Ultimate Member
I designed a logo years ago for a photographer friend, and he's constantly sending me example of random people using the mark for their own purposes. One guy even shares a name with my friend and just lifted the logo as-is. Didn't even bother to change it the cheeky sod.

People are still willing to steal low-res, watermarked versions if it means they can save money. I've had plenty of requests from strangers asking if I can use Photoshop to remove watermarks from prom pictures and such like because they're too cheap to pay.

Sadly there really isn't much we can do to protect our work nowadays with the advent of the internet and the anonymity it allows. Even if you have the money to take someone to court (hard/impossible if they're in a different country), sometimes it's easier to just let it slide given the cost, time and effort involved. If you don't want your work stolen the best thing to do is probably not have it online at all. You could maybe seek out an agent or company to work through that have the means and the power to chase up copyright infringement, but even then there's no guarantee that the threats won't just fall on deaf ears.


Staff member
Was looking for a prime example, but there's plenty online about this already (sorry for the direct to google search link)

I have in the past contacted people on FlickR to use photographs:

1 person wanted a 100 quid donated to a charity
1 person wanted access to the roof to take pictures
1 person wanted a credit in the magazine in the publication details section

I don't think anyone requested megabucks to use their photos.

Maybe a tactic you can take is to ask people to contact you if they want to use the photos, and that you'll give hi-res on case-by-case basis.

I'd be pretty miffed if Vogue used my photo and I didn't even get a credit (not that they would do that), but a lawyer would love that case for you. However, for once off newsletter printed by a community centre, nobody would bother chasing that.

Just be smart about how you put them online and how you let people access the hi-res versions.

Else, submit them to istock, fotolia etc.


I think hankscorpio is right. You may read a google research on "Making Visible Watermarks More Effective", There is a line that is "better protect its copyrighted content and creations"
Unless and until pictures from my websites are used by other's to promote their website, I didn't use watermark. Later I started adding either logos or brand name in the images as watermark so that they can't be used by others.