Friday, January 27, 2017

How to Choose the Right Colors for Your Watermark

The color used for a visible watermark greatly affects how noticeable the watermark is when it's overlaid onto an image. There isn't one color that all watermarks should be, as the right color for any particular watermark depends on the photographer's branding, photo the watermark is being used on and other factors. If you're designing a watermark for your digital photographs, here are some tips to help you settle on a color to use.

Only Consider Colors That Complement Your Branding 


With an almost infinite number of colors to choose from, it can be difficult to narrow down your choices to a few finalists. To make the selection process easier--and ensure your watermark's color goes well with your branding--limit your selection to colors that are consistent with the branding you already have in place. You might want to consider:

. colors included in your logo
. neutral colors
. colors you've used in your website's background 
The colors included in your logo, obviously, match your branding, and you've likely already determined that any colors on your website's background go well with your marketing scheme. Neutral colors, especially black, white and gray, will provide an alternative to the colors you've used elsewhere, but they'll still match since they go with anything.

Choose a Color That's Visible Yet Tasteful 


From the colors that complement your brand, the next step is to find one (or a few) that go well with your pictures. The color you use for a watermark should show up on images. You're making a visible watermark, after all. It shouldn't detract from your picture, though, since that's what clients are most interested in.

For instance, a white watermark likely won't show up well on a winter landscape picture that has lots of snow. For a bold look, a black watermark will be noticeable and might complement a striking, strong image well. Gray, however, is more likely to produce a watermark that's visible but doesn't take away from the photograph. A logo color may be suitable for some images, but it also could be too strong for a peaceful, relaxed winter scene.

Once you have a color that complements the picture well, you can adjust the location, size, font and opacity to increase or decrease its visibility. Finding the perfect combination of these factors is often a trial-and-error process.

Settle on One or Two Watermarks That Work Well with Most Images 


Because professional photographers take a lot of pictures, most streamline their workflow by creating two watermarks that work well with all their images. Some photographers have a watermark made from their logo's colors that they use on most pictures and a second that's neutrally colored for images that their logo-colored watermark clashes with. Other photographers have two gray watermarks, one that's light gray and another that's dark gray, and they use whichever shows up better on an image.

With a pair of versatile watermarks, you won't have to spend time creating a new watermark for each image. Instead, you'll be able to focus on taking more pictures and promoting yourself. To create a couple of watermarks that will go with many of your photographs, check out the selection available on Water Marquee. The platform lets photographers use any colors they'd like in their watermarks.

Friday, December 9, 2016

How Visible Your Watermark Should Be

All photographers who watermark their photographs must consider how opaque or transparent to make their watermark. No one opacity is right for every image or for every photographer. If you're struggling to find the right opacity for your watermark, here are some factors to consider.

Opaque Enough to Be Noticeable

Your watermark should be opaque enough to be noticeable. After all, the whole reason to have a visible watermark is so that it's seen. If no one notices your watermark, then what is the point of having a visible one? You might as well use an invisible watermark that's more difficult to remove.

Making sure people notice your watermark is especially important if you're using it to communicate copyright information, which some platforms strip from images' meta data. Without your details included in the meta data, a visible watermark is the only way to keep copyright information with a photograph. The watermark will only work, though, if it's seen.

It's also particularly important to make sure your watermark is noticeable if you're using the watermark for marketing purposes. If your primary goal in watermarking your photographs isn't to keep them from being stolen but to get your name out, you'll want people to quickly see your watermark when they look at your photos.

Transparent Enough to Not Detract

Your watermark, however, shouldn't be so opaque that it significantly detracts from your photograph. Even if you want people to see your copyright information or name, you also want them to appreciate the beauty of your pictures. If they're turned off from your photo work, it won't matter whether they see that you took the picture.

If you aren't sure whether your watermark is detracting too much from a photo, check whether you see your watermark or the image's subject first when you look at the shot. If the watermark is more prominent, make it a little more transparent.

Of course, looking at a photo that you've taken, edited and created a watermark for with fresh eyes can be difficult. You may want to ask a friend to look at a watermarked photo and ask whether they notice the subject or watermark first.

Visible but Tasteful

In short, your watermark should be visible but tasteful. Many photographers find that an opacity between 20 and 30 percent makes a watermark visible but not too intrusive, but this range isn't the only solution. Some photographers use higher opacities but place their watermarks in areas away from the subject. A few even make their watermark 100 percent opaque, and place it in negative space and match the color to a color in the photograph.

The percent opacity for your watermark will depend on its size and location. You'll need to experiment a little to find out what works best for your photographs and goals. If you'd like to try several different opacities, consider using Water Marquee. The platform makes it easy to create a customized watermark and adjust the opacity to any level that you'd like.

Friday, November 25, 2016

Where to Place Your Watermark on Your Photos

The placement of a watermark on a photograph greatly affects both its effectiveness and its intrusiveness. If you're trying to decide where to place watermarks on your photos, here are some common approaches photographers take and how they impact photographs.

The Bottom Right is a Standard Choice

The bottom right corner is a standard location to put your watermark. A watermark in the corner is visible, yet it doesn't significantly detract from a photograph. (Any corner works, but most photographers settle on the bottom right one.)

When a watermark is placed in the bottom right, it's usually kept fairly small. The watermark certainly shouldn't cover a large portion of your photographs, since the main reason to put it in the corner is so that it doesn't take away from the images.

The disadvantage of putting your watermark in the bottom right (or any other) corner is that it can easily be cropped out of your photographs. With any basic photo editing software, your name and details can be removed in just a few seconds.

A Border Below Your Photo is Easily Cropped

Some photographers don't even like how much a watermark in a corner intrudes on their photograph, so they create a border below their photos and place their watermark in the border. A border is even more easily cropped than a corner, though. If people share your images without altering them, your name will remain attached. Anyone who wants to remove the watermark, however, can easily do so.

The Center is More Prominent

Photographers who are more concerned about theft (and many stock photo sites) place the watermark in the center of their photographs. In the center, a watermark is more difficult to remove from a photograph. It still can be removed with photo editing software, but getting rid of the watermark without altering the original image requires advanced knowledge. People who aren't familiar with photo editing software won't be able to remove the watermark, and even those who know how to get rid of it may have to spend some time altering each photograph they steal.

When a watermark is placed in the center, it's typically fairly large. Keeping the watermark big ensures that it covers the focal point of each photograph it's used on, even if the focal point isn't in the middle of the image.

The downside of putting a watermark in the middle of your photographs is that it will detract from them. Its impact on your images can be minimized by reducing the opacity of your watermark, but any visible watermark in the middle of a photograph will detract from the picture at least a little bit.

Individual Placement Takes Time

A few photographers change the placement of their watermark with each photograph they publish. They look for a visually complex area that's not the focal point of each image and put their watermark there. In such a location, a watermark is difficult (although not impossible) to remove, and it doesn't significantly interfere with the image.

Customizing each photograph's watermark takes a lot of time, though, which is why only a few photographers take this approach. You may want to use on only your most valuable photos, and use a quicker watermarking method for most of your shots.

Placement Anywhere You Like with Water Marquee

If you're looking for an easy watermarking solution, consider using Water Marquee. The platform lets you place your watermark anywhere you'd like on your photographs.

Friday, November 11, 2016

Watermarking for Wedding Photographers

For wedding photographers, a watermark is much more than a means of protecting photos from being stolen. When used properly, a watermark can be a wedding photographer's most effective marketing tool. If you're a wedding photographer, here's how to watermark your images so they help you attract new clients.

The Watermark's Past Role

Watermarks have traditionally been used to prevent images from being stolen. In wedding photography, they've prevented newlyweds from printing their own photos--thus ensuring that the wedding photographer was paid for the photographs they provided. If a couple wanted an additional print, they typically had to pay the photographer for the extra print.

In the past few years, though, two technological developments have rendered the watermark less effective at ensuring photographers are paid for their work. First, software programs have made it possible for individuals with just a cursory photo editing knowledge to remove watermarks. It's easy for couples to take out a watermark and print their own photos. Second, people have become less interested in physical prints as social media has grown. Couples would rather post their photos online or email them to family than send prints in the mail.

A New Role for the Watermark

The changing landscape of wedding photography hasn't made watermarks completely useless, though. By continuing to watermark photos, you can turn people's inclination to post photos online into advertisements for you. Whenever someone shares a photo with your watermark on it, the people they share it with will see your brand name. Assuming they like your shots, they'll likely think of you if they ever have a wedding.

In effect, your shared watermarked photos are visual recommendations of your work. These kinds of recommendations are often more effective than other advertising methods, because they're:
  • from trusted family and friends
  • often shared with bridal party members and other friends who may also be having weddings soon
  • reach people organically through their social media news feeds or email

(Admittedly, some users may still remove your watermark before sharing. Not everyone, however, will go through the trouble of taking a watermark out of each image they share, so you'll get at least some exposure online.)

Make Watermarks Work for You

To make watermarking an effective form of advertising, you need a watermark that conveys the essential details about your business without being too intrusive. A good watermark designed for marketing will:
  • contain your name and website
  • look professional
  • not take away from the bride and groom
It's vitally important that your watermark doesn't detract from a photograph, because this strategy only works if your photos are good enough to be shared. Couples won't want to share photos if your company name is more prominent than the people in the photos. A subtle, faded watermark in one corner is often the best way to subtly include your name.

Additionally, you may want to move from a product-based pricing structure to a service-based structure. Since you're using watermarks to generate more business from other clients, instead of to make sure past clients purchase prints from you, you'll need to find a way to make up for a potential reduction in print sales. You can easily compensate for lower print orders by charging a higher fee to shoot a wedding, and then providing watermarked photos at a lower price--or even giving them away for free. They are advertisements for you, after all.

Friday, October 28, 2016

Choosing the Right Font for Your Watermark

When creating a visible watermark, the font selection has a significant impact on both the watermark and any photos you overlay with it. Unless you're schooled in the art of typography, finding the perfect font can be a long trial-and-error process. Here are some tips to help you find the right font for your watermark--a font that will add to your watermark, brand and photos.

Look for  Fonts That Show Up on Photographs

First and foremost, the font you choose should show up well on photographs. A visible watermark, after all, is intended to be seen. If your font's letters aren't readily visible, the effectiveness of the watermark will be reduced.

Many fonts show up well, but a few that have abnormally skinny letters don't. If you're planning on making the size of your watermark font 36-points or larger, you can probably use any but the skinniest of fonts. If you want to keep your font size smaller so that it doesn't cover the entire picture, a bold font that has thicker letters may work well.

Limit Your Choices to Fonts That Are Consistent with Your Branding

Second, a good font will be consistent with your current branding. Your watermark may be the first branding that prospective clients are exposed to, so it's important that your watermark conveys the same message as the rest of your marketing and branding efforts.

To find a font that is consistent with your branding message, first look at the fonts on your website, business card and letterhead. If one of these works well as a watermark font, your choice could be easy. If none of the fonts you're currently using work well as a watermark, you might want to change the fonts of your website, business card and letterhead to match the font that you choose for your watermark. Using the same font across all of these areas will ensure you have a consistent brand message, at least as far as your font selection goes.

Select a Font That Enhances Your Photos

Third, the ideal font will enhance your photos. It won't overpower your photos and detract from them. Conversely, it will add to them by reinforcing the feelings that your images evoke.

Exactly what font complements your photos will depend on what type of photography you specialize in. For instance, if you take landscape shots of rural barns, you'll want a different font than someone who specializes in grunge portraits of inner-city youth. A flowing font that resembles handwritten cursive may reinforce the old-fashioned, relaxed feelings that barns in the country bring to mind, while a font with block lettering might better suggest the graffiti that's found in many inner-city neighborhoods.

If you don't specialize in one type of photography, pick a generic, clean font that can be used with most photos. If you're a general photographer, it makes sense to have a generic, professional watermark.

Consider Multiple Fonts for a Multi-Faceted Watermark

Ultimately, you don't have to limit yourself to just one font. Using multiple fonts can help you distinguish collections or styles from one another, while creating consistency within each collection and using fonts that enhance each collections' photos. Using several fonts within a single watermark can even be helpful, as it makes distinguishing the different components of your watermark easier and lets you combine styles into a single watermark.

If you're looking for the ideal font for your watermark, check out the selection on Water Marquee. The platform not only gives photographers a large number of fonts to choose from, but lets photographers use as many fonts as they would like.

Friday, October 14, 2016

Choosing Your Watermark - Text, Logo, Or Both

Photographers are compelled to protect their photographic images from Internet thieves, but often can't decide whether to use a graphic logo design or a text for a watermark. There are certain advantages to both. The final decision is up to the individual photographer and how he or she wants their work presented to the public.

Logo Watermarks

Portrait photographers are known for using logo watermarks on their photographs for the purpose of advertising. They want their work to be known and recognized by their brand. Often the logo contains a design and text. Before digital cameras and online galleries came into vogue, portrait photographers printed "proofs" for their customers. These sample photographs had the word "proof" printed across the photo to prevent theft or misuse. The purchased photographs would have the logo of the photographer, usually in gold color, embossed in the lower corner of the photograph. Watermarking your images in a digital age is no different than the bold "proof" that used to be printed on photograph copies years ago.

Text Watermarks

Many photographers use text watermarks that contain the photographer's business and personal name. Wildlife Photography by John Doe is an example of simple text. The words can be in a row or the company name above or below the photographer's. Decorative fonts are popular with text watermarks and may include underlining or other embellishments. Color text can be used to blend in with the image, and be less conspicuous, while still displaying the photographer's watermark. Text is easy to place on any image and doesn't require as much space as a logo. There is less distraction from the content of the photograph when text is used.

Portrait and Wedding Photography

If you are posting client images for sale on a password protected website, you must be sure your watermark can not be easily removed. Some people will simply crop out a small watermark in the bottom corner of a photograph and reproduce it on their home printer, instead of purchasing professionally printed images. Use a larger watermark, logo or text, and be sure it covers a portion of the image's essential content. Your watermark is also your brand and a successful advertising tool.

Wildlife And Scenic Photography

Amateur and professional photographers want to preserve the integrity of their photographic art and avoid placing it at risk for theft. Wildlife and scenic photography are the most popular categories for people to steal online and use for financial gain. They are used to produce calendars, prints, greeting and post cards, and journal covers. It is a huge loss to the photographer trying to sell his or her work. Watermarking your images makes it difficult for the thief to use your images. Watermarks can be removed in Photoshop, but only someone with great talent can do it skillfully. Many laymen can recognize when an image has been altered in Photoshop and will hesitate to buy the product.

Watermarks Are Your Protection

While some people say watermarks are distracting, the majority of amateurs and professional photographers use them to protect their intellectual property. Make sure your watermark does not detract from your image by making it too large or using a bright color. Allow it to be visible and a bit understated. If your eye is drawn to the watermark rather than the image, it is too prominent. Placement is also important. Most photographers place their watermark in one of the lower corners of the picture for less distraction. Portrait photographers place them on the image to prevent unauthorized duplication.

Watermark your images with either a logo or text. People looking for a photographer will recognize the work of a professional or skilled amateur, because he or she has branded their images. You will be hired based on the quality of your work. People who steal from photographers are among those who complain about watermarks, and they will never pay you.

Friday, September 30, 2016

The Types of Digital Watermarks and Their Uses

Digital watermarking lets photographers protect their images in today's digital world. There are several different ways of digitally watermarking an image, each of which has its own advantages and disadvantages. Here's a look at each type of digital watermark used for pictures today.

The Types of Digital Watermarks

All digital watermarks can be separated into two broad categories: visible watermarks and invisible ones. As the categories' names imply, visible watermarks can be easily seen, and invisible ones are hidden from sight. Visible watermarks are also known as overt watermarks, and invisible ones are sometimes called covert watermarks.

Visible watermarks usually take the form of a semi-transparent image that's overlaid on the original image. The image usually contains the name of the photographer or company that holds the copyright for the image, although it can contain additional items, like the year or a copyright symbol. Since the image is semi-transparent, it's clearly visible but also lets the viewer see the original image.

When superimposing an image as a visible watermark, it's important to make sure the superimposed image can't easily be cropped from the photograph. The semi-transparent image that's superimposed should either cover most of the picture or a vital part of it, such as a person's face in a portrait or wildlife in a nature shot.

Invisible watermarks are embedded into an image and intended to remain unseen under normal viewing. They're only visible via specialized software. There are several different types of invisible watermarks:
  • superimposing an image but keeping it extremely transparent so that it's not noticeable
  • flipping the lowest-order bit of specific pixels, which only works if the photograph won't be modified and, even then, is usually too basic to be effective
  • spatial watermarking, which applies a watermark to a specific color band so that the watermark only visible when the colors are separated, such as for printing
  • frequency watermarking, which applies a watermark to a specific frequency so that the watermark is only visible when that frequency is separated out

Of these, spatial and frequency watermarking are the most common invisible watermarks used.

When using frequency watermarking, the watermark is best applied to either a low frequency or a frequency that's critical to the image. High frequencies are often lost in compression and scaling, and the watermark will be lost if the frequency it's applied to is lost.

The Uses of Visible Watermarks

By stating the copyright holder's name, visible watermarks help protect an image from copyright infringement. Their usefulness in tracking down illicit uses of an image, however, is limited. Not only is it difficult to search for all uses of a semi-transparent watermark, but these watermarks can be removed by software. Visible watermarks are getting better at resisting image transformation, but a determined and knowledgeable thief will still see the watermark and, with the right software, possibly be able to remove the semi-transparent image.

The strength of visible watermarks lies in their immediate claim of ownership. The best visible watermarks clearly label the image with the copyright owner's name and, thus, eliminate any commercial value for people who would use the image illicitly. Because they state the copyright owner's name, they can also be used for promotional purposes.

The Uses of Invisible Watermarks

Invisible watermarks are used to prove an image's authenticity and identify the rightful copyright holder. Since they're harder to identify and remove than visible watermarks, invisible ones are especially helpful when searching for and prosecuting illicit postings of an image. They can help prove that a person violated a copyright claim, which can make prosecuting a copyright lawsuit and collecting royalties easier.

Invisible watermarks can also be used to track down occurrences of an image and identify the original source of each occurrence. The photographer's, copyright holder's, distributor's and consumer's name can all be embedded in an invisible watermark of an image.

Copyright Protection Options for Photographers

Photographers have always needed to take steps to protect their work. In today's digital age, these watermark options give photographers several ways to prevent, identify and prosecute illicit uses of their images.