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Thread: Proper Watermark Etiquette

  1. #1
    yobenny's Avatar
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    Proper Watermark Etiquette

    I have a young cousin who went to college for photog and now does weddings and other functions and seems to have work. When she posts her images public, she puts this big ugly sticker in the corner that is so "EYE am ME" looking that it looks more like a badge than an ID. It has a tank in a rose patch effect on the images.
    I was wondering what all this is about, when people realistically should start using these things and what are the guidelines for doing so.

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    Re: Proper Watermark Etiquette

    In my opinion they're best left off altogether.

    We've had some resent discussions on them that you might find interesting ...

    On the subject of logos and watermarks

    Question about Watermarks

    Bottom line is though that those who use them always defend their decision to use them to the grave.

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    Re: Proper Watermark Etiquette

    Quote Originally Posted by Colin Southern View Post
    Bottom line is though that those who use them always defend their decision to use them to the grave.
    The same is true for those (me included) who decide not to use them. Considering that I'll defend my decision to the grave, I can only hope that I have a very long time to defend it.

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    Moderator GrumpyDiver's Avatar
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    Re: Proper Watermark Etiquette

    I strongly suspect that the practice varies from place to place. The consensus at CiC seems to be very much against this practice. On the other hand I've noticed that any of the local professional photographers who's work I've seen have their signature / logo on their images.

    I took a studio lighting course at the local community college a few years ago and desigining and having a logo / signature on 100% of the submissions was a course requirement. The paraphrasing the instructor's view; "get used to it folks, if you are getting into this business professionally, you need to put it on all your work". The instructor was a very well known commercial (mostly product) photographer.

    That being said, it should be unobtrusive and should not take away from your product.

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    Re: Proper Watermark Etiquette

    Quote Originally Posted by GrumpyDiver View Post
    "get used to it folks, if you are getting into this business professionally, you need to put it on all your work". The instructor was a very well known commercial (mostly product) photographer.
    I don't think the fact that a "very well known commercial photographer" does it necessarily adds any weight to his recommendation though, because there are no doubt photographers who are more "very well known" than this chap who don't - others who are still more "better well known" that do - and others who are yet even more well known still that don't. So all it really says is "I've chosen to do it".

    For what it's worth - in my observation - most of the top shooters don't appear to be doing it.

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    Moderator GrumpyDiver's Avatar
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    Re: Proper Watermark Etiquette

    Colin - I agree, all I am trying to point out is that it seems to be fairly common practice in the city (Ottawa) where I live. This is especially true for the portrait and wedding photographers and to a large extent also true for the landscape or art photographs. Where you do not see it is on the commercial work that they do, but this is commissioned work and until very recently (the new Canadian copyright law came into force last week), commissioned work copyright belonged to the person / company who commissioned the work, not the photographer unless this was specifically covered in the contract. Now Canadian law is similar to copyright laws elsewhere that assigns copyright to the photographer unless it is specifically assigned to the client in the contract.

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    Re: Proper Watermark Etiquette

    I always shoot in RAW. This was not always the case. I started, like most people I guess, shooting JPEG. Then I went to JPEG + RAW because I was afraid of shooting RAW alone. Finally, I opted to shoot just in RAW. The JPEG's were just taking up room. If I needed a JPEG, I can always make one from my RAW.

    IMO, it is easier to process a RAW image than a JPEG image. There are many reasons that I like RAW but one of the foremost is that RAW editing is non-destructive. I can't ruin a RAW image by editing it.

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    Re: Proper Watermark Etiquette

    Hi Manfred - maybe it's a Canadian thing. Although I'm on Colin's side of the fence for the issue at hand, there are a few 'more prominent' wedding and portrait photographers in the Toronto are that do the same. I also have a friend who moved to the West coast, and she slathers 'XYZ Photography' all over her shots too.

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    Re: Proper Watermark Etiquette

    Quote Originally Posted by GrumpyDiver View Post
    Colin - I agree, all I am trying to point out is that it seems to be fairly common practice in the city (Ottawa) where I live.
    I think it's especially true for Wedding & portrait photographers. I'm sure that many feel that their name & details are even more important than the image (and I mean that seriously). I might also add that I think that those who do are probably still relying on out-dated ("outward bound") marketing methods

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    Re: Proper Watermark Etiquette

    Quote Originally Posted by Colin Southern View Post
    I think it's especially true for Wedding & portrait photographers. I'm sure that many feel that their name & details are even more important than the image (and I mean that seriously). I might also add that I think that those who do are probably still relying on out-dated ("outward bound") marketing methods
    I'm probably more on the fence on this one than a lot of other people as I see some validity in both positions.

    On the "No" side, it really seems to be an issue with aesthetics (i.e. taking away from the work) and perhaps a bit of modesty (I shouldn't be plastering my name / logo all over this work).

    On the "Yes" side there is a bit of advertising (beautiful picture, who did it?), a bit of ownership (I'm proud of my work so I will digitally sign it where people can see it) and perhaps even a bit of legalese (I acknowledge this to be my work). I'm rather sensitive to the last point, as an engineer I often have to sign off on or initial documents so if there is a legal issue, I can demonstrate that I have taken legal authority for the work having been done properly, by a qualified individual and to accepted standards.

    Regardless, I think the main argument against is the aesthetic one; too often the logo or signature is too much "in your face", and it can take away from the image. So, if you do want to place a logo / signature, make sure that it is done subtlety and tastefully.

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    Re: Proper Watermark Etiquette

    The albums with winners from mini competitions and monthly competitions might show the 'local habits'

    (as those pictures were selected as the best by member votes, I think they give a good idea of the way the better photographers here use watermarks and signatures. I admit that there is a bit of circular logic in that )

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    Re: Proper Watermark Etiquette

    I have no idea about the existence of anything that may be real around the world, but it seems to me that this group of people,
    (consummate professionals) need themselves some kind of "club" to be a member of where issues like this are taken beyond personal ideology to create a set of standard behavior that everyone can work with.

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    Moderator GrumpyDiver's Avatar
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    Re: Proper Watermark Etiquette

    Quote Originally Posted by yobenny View Post
    I have no idea about the existence of anything that may be real around the world, but it seems to me that this group of people,
    (consummate professionals) need themselves some kind of "club" to be a member of where issues like this are taken beyond personal ideology to create a set of standard behavior that everyone can work with.
    Why??

    There really is no right or wrong answer to this, or many other questions. The world, is not black and white and having a number of diverse opinions on the table will allow members to make up their own minds as to what does or does not work for them.

    1. Would you buy a painting from an artist that has not been signed? If you were buying a piece in China, it would not be signed, but the artist would stamp the piece with his or her "chop", using a rubber stamp and ink. This is somewhat similar to a stylized signature / logo.

    2. Would you buy a limited edition print from an artist that is not numbered or or signed? If you are in the print market, numbered prints tend to sell for a lot more money than un-numbered ones.

    3. Why then would we not expect the photographic artist to identify his or her work with a meaningful identifier applied during or after the production process? I've heard it said that it is because photographs are not real art. While a lot of photographs are not art, but neither are a lot of sketches or doodles.

    Food for thought....

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    Re: Proper Watermark Etiquette

    Quote Originally Posted by yobenny View Post
    I was wondering what all this is about, when people realistically should start using these things and what are the guidelines for doing so.
    This thread being about "Watermark Etiquette", may I venture that there's about as much etiquette in the addition of a watermark as there is in the choice of exposure or of post-processing of any kind. IMHO, anarchy rules and it's entirely up to the photographer whether to watermark or not.The opinion of others in our diverse world does not, per se, constitute an etiquette, IMHO.

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    Re: Proper Watermark Etiquette

    Hi, Benny -

    I'd bet she not only got photographic advice in her courses, I'd bet she took a course in legal/business law about somebody (probably a lawyer) gave a very hard core lecture about protecting her intellectual property rights.

    It seems to me that what a big and ugly watermark does is to demonstrate a lack of professionalism because the person inflicting those on his/her customers clearly lacks design sense.

    While I generally don't like formal script fonts because they are hard to read for visually impaired folks, I'm more inclined to have a favorable opinion of a photographer who uses such a font on wedding/christening/anniversary images than one that uses something like the Jokerman font on an image of his father in a coffin, as I saw recently (not on this forum!). ;~(

    v

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