My Thoughts On Watermarks

There was a huge debate about whether you should watermark your images recently; be it the type of watermark to use, the style, colour or non-colour, purpose and meaning, or even not at all. Despite the vast notion about keeping your copyrights to your photos using watermark and about others stealing of your images to that of their own, I think that is useless in my opinion. Why you may ask? Being a photographer who is sound in the use of photoshop, there are too many ways in which I can digitally erase a watermark if I wish to. Most of the time, watermarks can be easily cropped off the image with a simple crop tool. (The best method to copyright your photos digitally in modern times would be to embed your details in the metadata instead of watermark)



First let me address why, where and when do I use watermark on my photos. For me, the basic reason I watermark my images is simply for advertising. Yes! 70% of my commissions are from referrals or from someone sharing my photos of them. This is a proven method of how I market my work. When my work gets shared in the vast internet, most of the time you won’t be able to find the originator of the image and thus, a simple watermark will make things a lot easier if the viewer wishes to look for the photographer of that image. Where do I use watermark? When I am posting on social groups, collaborations with models, sharing of images through Facebook and online platforms. These are basic places where viewers would start collecting inspirations for their next shoot or campaign, having a watermark in these images help them to refer to your work when they need to. On another note, Instagram works differently as there are functions and methods to lead the viewers back to my IG handle, so I don’t usually do watermarks on IG. Lastly, I use watermark on my images when it is a collaboration but not when I produce E-book or print. [Nb: This whole paragraph is mainly for photographers who is like me so can be a bit technical and detailed.]



I believe in keeping my watermark simple. Below are some guidelines which had helped me in how I qualify a good watermark.

1. Colour – Black and white essentially form the basics of any watermark. I used to have two colour versions of my watermark, one in black and the other in white. As I evolve, I added a silver tinge into my watermark just for a ‘playful’ and ‘refreshing’ feel to it. I find that as I mature in my photography, my watermark tends to mature along as well.


2. Logo, Signature or Font – Ok, I started off with simple fonts to keep it clean and neat. I have been in the creative industry for many years leading campaigns and creative strategies in this field. My thoughts had always been whichever suits you better. I wanted my photography to be simple and straightforward and let my pictures do more of the talking. Thus, keeping it with a simple signature is effective and straight to the point. Again, my latest design is completely different from everything I have said. It is not simple, not a signature or font but a Logo. Logo tends to be an upscaled version of my identity, I think I would settle with my current logo for a long time as I find this logo exemplifies my own character. Afterall, in this creative industry it is important to find your own unique style or character which you can call your own.


3. Size & Position – I’ll go straight to the point for this. For size: Small but clear enough to make out your intent, watermarks are meant to be there when you remember and not jarring in my opinion. For position: Bottom left or bottom right, non-intrusive yet gets the job done. Do not ever slap your watermark anywhere along the middle line both horizontally and vertically.


4. Style – As mentioned, find what resonates with you and what you wish to be portrayed as being a photographer. Different people like different style, do a lot of research and reference various logos to know what you like and what you do not like in a logo. Have your own set of ‘ticks’ in what is aesthetically pleasing, I strongly believe this is so important as this forms the backbone of your design later.


5. Intent – I think this sums up the rest of my guidelines. Until you are clear of your intent in a watermark, it will be just for the sake of having a watermark. My intent is more for advertising and a way for others to track my work back to me. I wanted a logo which would resonate my work and should link to words such as ‘sleek’, ‘contemporary’ and ‘unique’. When they search for ‘JayCStudios’ they should be able to find me easily on the web. So, the intention of having a watermark is important in actualizing the end product.



Now to the fun part. I created all the different versions of my Logo/Watermark/Signature throughout the years. I started by calling myself ‘Fusion Photography’ but I could not find the actual logo I created, bulk of my earlier watermarks had been signatures from ‘Fusion Photography’ to ‘Jay.C Photography’ to ‘Jay.C Studios’. Why the change along the years? Fusion was a word I’ve always liked and have associated with my kind of photography, then came months of research and debate on why we should use our real names in our photography and Jay.C Photography was born. How the final name (Jay.C Studios) came about was when I wanted an identity like an organisation rather than being solo. The word ‘Photography’ was kind of long and ‘Studios’ had a sleek sounding to it. In addition, I was able to find a domain: ‘jaycstudios.com’ for my website to consolidate all the various platforms into one single name.



Below are some of my simple signatures/logo to my current/latest which I designed myself.



Speak to me if you wish to know more about how I created and designed my current watermark, one that I take pleasure and am happy with after loads of tweaking and seeking of opinions from many others.



Case in point. Over the years, I have a lot of models writing to me that a certain person or agency was posing as myself linking them to my website to show a ‘portfolio’ of the photographer/agency’s work. I guess my watermark played a part where they did not just simply cropped my pictures and sent them to these models but linking them instead, in which it all came back to me and I was able to clarify that it was an impersonation of me. I’ve made several police report, but sad to say nothing much can be done in the end as these ‘photographers’ or ‘agencies’ were not based in my own country, the authorities cannot do much.



All in all, it is good to have a Logo/Watermark/Signature of your own. A simple yet effective way of how viewers identify you as. In fact, a lot of my client’s or friends in the industry literally calls me by Jay.C just like how they would call my signature. =p



What type of watermark is your favourite and are you intending to create one of your own currently? Hit me up and I might be able to share some pointers with you!

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