Monday, August 10, 2020

5 Steps to Get Your Photography Noticed

5 Steps to Get Your Photography Noticed

When you're just starting out, getting anyone to notice your photography can seem like an impossible challenge.  It's unfair, but taking beautiful photos isn't enough.  Here are 5 steps you can take to get your photography noticed online.

1) Have a Website

5 Steps to Get Your Photography Noticed
Photo by JayJay Creative
Yes, you really do need one - your Flickr photo set just isn't going to cut it.  Before anyone can take you seriously, they need to see that you've put in the effort to establish a home for yourself online.  If you haven't taken this step yet, now's the time.  

Spend some time looking around a photography website hosting company that meets your needs.  Make sure your part of the packing includes a blog - it's pretty much required these days.

2) Get into Social Media

Get Your Photography Noticed
Photo by rishibando
Facebook Fan pages and Twitter accounts will help you connect with people who are interested in your work.  You'll need to make time to keep them both up to date and do networking through them, but engagement with your audience is the best possible way to drum up interest in your work.

For Twitter, I recommend you check out  After you register, you can search for fellow photographers, globally and in your local area.  When you find some whose work you like, go ahead and follow them.  More often than not, they'll follow you right back.  

Make sure that there is a link to follow your Twitter account on your website, and a Facebook button that lets users like your photographs.  If you need help figuring out how to add these buttons to your page, I'd be glad to help - @watermarquee on Twitter, or on Facebook on the Water Marquee fan page, or just shoot me an email - [email protected]

3) Enter Contests

Steps to Get Your Photography Noticed
Photo by Mike Baird
There are always several photography contests going on online, and winning one of them is a great way to get your photography noticed.  

It can be a bit intimidating to enter into a competition and be judged by complete strangers but remember - the people running these contests are always supportive of the photographers who enter.  They need your photos for their contest to be a success.

To start, here are a few sites with lists of contests:

Fan Art Review
Photo Compete
The Photo Contest

Once you've entered, be sure to promote your entry on your website and via Social Media.  Many contests rely on online votes to determine the winner, and even if you don't win, your entry is something your fans will be interested in learning about.

4) Give Your Work Away

Photography Noticed
Photo by libraryman
I know you didn't start a photography business to give your hard work away for free.  But when you're getting started, you have to get noticed before you can get famous.  

If you have your own site (and you do, don't you?), make sure each of your photos is somehow marked as being Creative Commons.  You can "give" your work away on Flickr by selecting the Creative Commons Attribution license.  Many bloggers search for photos to use in their posts on Flickr that are Creative Commons licensed - it's the way I got the photos for this post!

This lets people use your work, but requires them to provide you with attribution.  It's probably the easiest way to get your photography noticed - let other people do it for you!

5) Keep Trying

Keep Trying
Photo by liber
Unfortunately, there are no shortcuts.  You have to keep posting great photos, building up your Twitter followers and Facebook fans, and writing in your Blog.  You have to work hard in the beginning, but eventually, you'll reach a tipping point where more people are talking about your work than you could ever have publicized to before.  

Until that day, just keep your goal in site, keep working hard, and keep taking great photos!

One More Thing6) One More Thing

I know the list said 5 steps to get your photography noticed, but here's a bonus step.  

If you watermark your images with Water Marquee, I'd love to post it to our Facebook Fan page and show it off to our fans.  You can send it to me at [email protected], or get in touch via Facebook or Twitter.

Sunday, June 7, 2020

The Types of Digital Watermarks and Their Uses

         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 and Their Uses

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 the 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 photographers, 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.

Friday, June 5, 2020

How to Choose Your First Professional Camera

How to Choose Your First Professional Camera

How to Choose Your First Professional Camera

If you’re in the market for your first camera, you may feel overwhelmed by all of the possible options. A high-quality, professional camera is an investment--and not an inexpensive one. The good news is that most cameras on the market today are of good quality, so you’re not likely to select one that simply doesn’t work. 
The trick is finding precisely the right camera for your specific needs so that it will serve your photography business (or hobby) for years to come.

With such a wide range of options when it comes to models and features and accessories, how do you narrow the field? It’s easier than you think if you understand what you want and need before you start shopping. 
You’ll be better able to zero in on the models with the features you need, without feeling distracted and overwhelmed by the many others that you don’t need. Here is what you need to know before you begin your search.

Know the different camera types

There are many different types of cameras, ranging from simple smartphone cameras to high-end digital versions. If you’re looking for your first professional camera, however, there are two major types you should investigate.


Your First Professional Camera

DSLR, or digital single-lens reflex cameras, are what most people think of when they picture a professional photographer snapping away on a photoshoot.

 These cameras are composed of two distinct parts: the body of the camera and the lens. They also feature a mirror, or “viewfinder” of sorts, that allows you to preview the image before you shoot it.

When it comes to DSLR cameras, the right lens makes all the difference in image quality. The better the lens, the better the image. Since lenses are interchangeable, it’s easy to customize the image output and quality by experimenting with different lens types (more on lenses in a bit).

For most beginning professional photographers, a DSLR camera is a safe, simple choice with adequate functionality to meet their needs.


Mirrorless cameras have entered the scene in the last few years, as an alternative to the DSLR. While they have most of the same internal components as their DSLR counterparts, as well as interchangeable lenses, they feature an electronic (or mirrorless) viewfinder, making the entire camera smaller and lighter.

A downside of mirrorless cameras is that their sensors are smaller than DSLRs. As a result, they aren’t as advanced when it comes to registering image depth or shooting in low light.

A note on brands

The bottom line is that the brand of camera you buy has very little impact on image quality. It all comes down to the quality of lenses and the artistry of the photographer behind the lens. 

While the two most well-known manufacturers are Canon and Nikon, one of the several other emerging brands may suit your needs at a lower price. Rather than getting hung up on a specific brand, try several models from each manufacturer to find the one that is most comfortable for you to use and that best suits your needs.

Set a budget

When it comes to professional cameras, “ballpark pricing” doesn’t really exist. DSLR cameras range from several hundred dollars to many thousands of dollars. The best course of action is to decide how much you want to spend and look for a camera within that range. You’ll find one. 

The key is to narrow down which features you can’t live without and which you can sacrifice to stay within budget.

Identify “must-have” vs. “nice-to-have” features

The list of flashy features you could get as part of your new camera are nearly endless. Some are essential, while others you’ll probably never use. One feature that you’ll definitely need as a professional photographer is the ability to switch to manual mode.

In automatic mode, the camera decides on shutter speed and light exposure for you. In manual mode, you control the settings yourself, giving you greater artistic freedom to take a variety of shots. Speaking of light, you’ll also want to double-check the ISO, which is the camera’s sensitivity to light.

A higher ISO will ensure that you can shoot in low light conditions without a flash.

Other features, like megapixels, might seem like crucially important concerns at first glance, but you should be aware that a huge number of megapixels won’t add to your image quality. Past a certain number of megapixels (around 20), there isn’t a noticeable difference in quality. 

Don’t be distracted by the “noise” of features you don’t really need. Instead, focus on the features that best suit your needs and will help capture the types of images you want to shoot.

Decide which lenses and accessories you need

Whether it’s interchangeable or permanent, the right lens will make all the difference to your photos. Here’s a breakdown of what you should know about lenses.

First off: focal length. It determines the angle that your lens will capture. Wide-angle lenses cover a larger view, while telephoto lenses capture a narrow view. Next up is the aperture, which is the hole inside the lens that controls the light that enters the camera. The larger the aperture, the more expensive the lens will be, but you’ll also be able to shoot in much darker conditions.

There are plenty of lens options to choose from-- all with unique impacts on focal length and aperture. If you have a particular niche or style in mind for your photographs, you may want to consider a specialty lens like a fisheye, macro, or tilt-shift lens.

Know where to shop

There are many different outlets to purchase your camera, including online retailers and brick-and-mortar shops. The best course of action is to start with your online research and once you’ve decided on your budget, type of camera, desired features, and required lenses, to start comparing prices.

Keep in mind that you can purchase a gently used camera or even rent a particular camera before you buy it to make sure it suits your needs. Many local shops offer used cameras and rental options.

As you search for your first professional camera, remember that the only “perfect” camera is the one that is perfect for you. Don’t be intimidated by the many choices available. 

Take the time to understand what you need before you even start looking. The choice will become much clearer when you’re armed with the right information

Sunday, May 31, 2020

Where You Put Your Watermark Matters

Where You Put Your Watermark Matters

Nearly 80% of people who use Water Marquee use the default "Top Left" position when positioning their watermarks.  While you can drag your watermark to a different location manually, it makes me wonder if many users are missing out on the need to find the perfect location for their watermark on their photos.

Why are you Watermarking Your Photos?

The location of your watermark should be driven by your rationale for using a watermark in the first place.  Generally, people put watermarks on photos to either protect the photos from being copied without attribution or to prevent potential customers from downloading the image without paying.

If your intent is to make sure you get proper attribution, you'll want to minimize the impact of the watermark while not making it too easy to remove (see our Guide on Watermark Removal Software to see how that works).

Where You Put Your Watermark Matters

In the above photo, the watermark sits on the bottom left, away from the focus of the image.  However, because the background of the watermark is completely black, it would be easy to remove.  This type of placement is good only if you're only partially concerned with receiving attribution for an image, and is not appropriate if you're actually trying to protect the image.

Where You place Your Watermark Matters

In this image, a "tiled" watermark has been applied (available in Water Marquee Pro).  Because the watermark text is partially transparent, it is still possible to get a sense of the overall image.  However, it's very unlikely that anyone would steal this photo since the watermark is still so noticeable.  This type of watermark is best when you're a pro photographer, such as a wedding photographer, who needs to be able to let customers see photos but needs to make sure you'll get paid for your work.

Tuesday, May 26, 2020

Why You Need to Watermark Your Images

Why You Need to Watermark Your Images

It's should come at no surprise that anything you put up on the Internet can get ripped off.  People seem to think that if they find an image online, they're free to use it themselves without either paying for it or even giving proper attribution.  If you're reading this, you may have already experienced this problem yourself, and have come looking for a solution.  There are basically two approaches you can take - watermark all of your images, or use the software on your website to try and protect your images on the fly.  Protecting your images on the fly is probably less work, but it's usually a lot less secure.

Even major corporations can go for the quick fix.  Disney's PhotoPass is a very slick site that lets visitors to their parks view and purchase images were taken during their trip online.  My family just got back from a Thanksgiving trip there, so I got to experience the site first hand.

Why You Need to Watermark Your Images
Disney's Photo Pass Website
Disney protects their photos by showing you small, low-quality images that no one would be likely to want to steal. It's not a bad approach, but Disney's software is seriously flawed because a technically-savvy person (or even somewhat savy, like me) can quickly figure out how to get the full-size, full-quality image.  I won't go into details of how to bypass their security, because I believe that businesses deserve to profit from their work.  But you'd think that a major corporation, with plenty of bucks to throw around, would spend a bit more to protect themselves. 

Smaller businesses and independent freelancers have it even worse.  The photographer who took my daughter's school pictures last year used some Flash-based software that suffered from a similar, though different, security failure.  While Disney's software took about five minutes to figure out, the photographer's off-the-shelf software was even worse.

This year the school changed photography companies, and I'm glad to see that the new company uses the only reliable method - they expose only watermarked images to the outside world.  By putting the watermark on the image, there is no workaround to be found, and your images are protected.

Oh, and just to be clear - we bought the photos we liked from both sites.

Friday, May 22, 2020

Cool HDR Photography Effects

Cool HDR Photography Effects

High Definition Range (HDR) photography is popping up everywhere these days, usually with beautiful results, but sometimes not.

What is High Definition Range (HDR) Photography?

Even the best photographs tend to leave out details that a human can see with their eyes.  HDR Photography allows you to capture a greater range of detail in a photograph, so it looks more like what you would see in real life.

It works by capturing an image three times - normal exposure, slightly underexposed, and slightly overexposed.  The three images are then combined into one, creating a blend of the details from all three.

The images are usually combined with software, which can lead to some interesting results.  Most modern HDR photo software can handle this process pretty well automatically, but usually leave some settings up to the user, and these settings can be tweaked to find interesting effects.

Here are some examples of cool  HDR photography effects.

The Halo Effect

Cool HDR Photography Effects
Photo: Christiaan Leever

More Cool HDR Photography Effects
Photo: Walker Dukes

The Comic Book Effect

Cool HDR Photography Effects examples
Photo: eck121

Cool HDR examples
Photo: eck121

The Grunge Effect

Cool HDR Effects examples
Photo: Murdoch80

Cool HDR
Photo: Murdoch80

The "I'm High on LSD" Effect

Photography Cool HDR examples
Photo: Walker Dukes

Photo effects - Cool HDR examples
Photo: Walker Dukes

Thursday, May 21, 2020

7 Tips for Etsy Photos

7 Tips for Etsy Photos

7 Tips for Etsy Photos

For Etsy entrepreneurs, great product photos are crucial. They say ‘don’t judge a book by its cover’, but when was the last time you bought or clicked on an online product with a bad photo?

You might offer the best quality items, but if you’re serious about growing your business, the power of good images shouldn’t be underestimated. The photo can make or break a sale.

Creating a perfect product image can seem a bit overwhelming for those just starting out. Here are 7 tips for great Etsy photos.

1. Consider the purpose of your photos

Tips for Etsy Photos
This high-quality photo by ZwoodZ attracts attention, gives a great sense of texture, color and size, and has a minimalist look.

You want your photos to attract attention, present a clear view of the product, and highlight your brand image. When planning your next shot, it’s useful to remember the purpose of the finished result.

The photo is the first impression your potential client gets. It has to attract enough attention for them to click and find out more. If the photo quality is low, chances are people will simply overlook your product.

The photo is also there to give the visitor a good sense of the product. Online, you can’t get the same perception as holding a physical item. Your picture thus needs to convey all the details. It has to clearly show the texture, color, size, for your potential clients to make an informed choice.

There are many styles of photos, and yours need to match your product, brand image and industry. Do you want a minimalist aesthetic? A vintage one? Bohemian? Spend some time looking for inspiration and figure out what vibe you want for your photos.

2. Lighting

Etsy Photos
The natural window lighting by JasmineSupply highlights the look of the product and creates a light, cozy vibe.

Lighting is one of the most important aspects of a good photo. It can completely change its look and enhance your product in different ways. While investing in professional lighting equipment can make a difference, you can also make the most out of your existing equipment using various techniques.

Make sure to look into the appropriate lighting conditions for your preferred photo aesthetic. For a clear, clean, and minimalist look, window light is a great tool.

If you’re taking outside shots, the ‘golden hour’ can create warmer, softer tones. Take your photos either right after sunrise or before sunset.

3. Close-ups and Details

for Etsy Photos
The close-up photo by YesterdaysGaze of the vintage alarm clock shows its details and scratches, which only add to the vintage look in a positive way.

Give a better sense of the texture and details of products by including close-up shots. The details of intricate items such as handmade jewellery can only be captured by a quality close-up.

Close-ups also help you be honest and transparent when it comes to scratches or irregularities of vintage or handmade items. Creating a realistic expectation is better than obscuring these details and risking to disappoint your client.

4. Backgrounds and props

watermark photos in Etsy
The props and background enhance in this photo by BuffaloGalOrganics, of a makeup product, highlighting its natural ingredients.

The type of your product and your brand image will be reflected in the style of your photo. For this, the product itself is not the only aspect that matters. Complete the picture by considering your background and props.

If you’re selling colourful ceramic mugs, you might want to create a cozy scene. For a natural makeup product, you can add some of the natural ingredients used right next to the item.

5. Scale

watermark photos in Etsy shops

Using the apple as a prop in HopscotchLondon's photo, together with the candle, not only shows scale but also highlights the product’s scent.

It’s important for potential clients to know the sizes of your products, and for certain objects, the dimensions aren’t always clear in photos.

For products such as art pieces, toys, bowls, candles etc., it’s important to offer a sense of scale, by placing your product next to objects with a standard dimension.

6. Editing & optimizing

After you take your photo, editing is a great way to take it to the next level. You can adjust the lighting, contrast, or remove any imperfections such as dirt. You can crop the image and slightly rotate it if necessary.

Be careful not to overdo it. Too much editing might give an unrealistic image of your product, which can bring you, unhappy clients.

A significant amount of traffic nowadays is mobile, which should not be overlooked. Make sure your photos are optimized for mobile and look good on a smaller screen.

7. Watermark

You have your perfect photo. Before you upload it, you might want to consider watermarking.

Watermarking is a great way of protecting your images and preventing others to use and claim them as their own. Additionally, it can also help you increase brand recognition. By adding a form of digital signature, your products and images become more identifiable with your brand.

For effective watermarking, get creative and match the watermark to your photo. Avoid watermarks that create a different focal point. The product, not the watermark, should grab the attention.

Water Marquee offers a high-quality, free watermarking service. The watermarks are fully customizable, providing multiple templates, as well as allowing you to choose your fonts, colors, add logos, and more.