Watermarks, are the pretentious or sensible?
I find that personally it’s the only way a photographer can protect their work from theft. We all see thousands of images floating around over the web day in and day out but unfortunately not everyone is as respectful to credit them, at least with a watermark it allows someone to view an image and if they admire it they can simply direct themselves to the artist/photographer within a web search.
Of course it seems a little pretentious and arrogant but you’re better safe than sorry, right? I’ve personally had issues in the past where I’ve taken photographs not thought much of them and posted them online, only to find a few years down the line they had been published in a magazine without any credit. It seems that a lot of photographs become more valuable over time, if we’re circulating them now without any tags they may become worthless, anonymous and overlooked.
Commercially it’s a great way to get your name out there alongside your images, it directs customers back to you for more work.
Things to be aware of is that your watermark mustn’t look tacky, it mustn’t be too big to overpower your photograph and distract from the piece but also not too small that it can be very easily removed!
I’ve found a happy medium within my own watermarks with the help of a graphic designer Zack O’Toole. Perhaps they are too distracting, perhaps they ruin the photograph but the way I see it is that if someone wishes to see more than they know where to find us… they can simply contact us to buy a print or the rights to an image. Photographers should be protecting their work, it’s not feasible for us to work for free forever. Besides I’ve never disregarded a great photograph because it had a watermark.