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.