For this blog post I’m going to step into the quagmire that is watermarking. This is something I’ve toiled over, trying to figure out the best solution for me and my business. If you’re reading this you may be in the middle of your own internal conflict. Considering how difficult a task it was for me to figure out, and the limited amount of information I could gather, I thought it might be useful to share my own trials and tribulations.
he opposing forces I struggled with were maximizing the quality of my prized images vs. protection and branding. You work really hard to create inspiring and beautiful pictures. The last thing you want to do is smear a giant hot mess of legalese and advertising all over it. On the other hand most of us photographers post images to further our business and attract clients. How do you implement a solution that satisfies both opposing needs. UGH!!!!
fter far too much research, taking too many notes, going in too many circles, and way too much tequila. I finally came to the conclusion that the main reason for posting images to the internet is to promote my business. So I can be profitable and stay in the business of making more beautiful pictures! This was a huge euphony for me, coming to that conclusion removed a lot of noise that was distracting.
oming to the understanding that my images speak for my business, I needed to figure out what and how to brand them. Every marketing/branding book and blog post I’ve ever read, reiterated the same mantra: “To have an effective branding campaign you must be consistent and everything should tie together” Okay, got it!, putting that at the top of my list of requirements.
t this point I know I should brand my images and it needs to be consistent. But what information is important enough to warrant the possible distraction to my beautiful pictures?
1 we are living in today. To make sure a potential client or customer finds me and not some other Martin business, I decided my website address would be the most precise target I could provide.y business name seemed the most obvious, but to be honest, I don’t think a business name is unique enough in the current flat world
econd on my list was a copyright notice. Let’s face it, once you post an image to the internet it’s out of your control and there will be people who use it without your permission. You will have to accept a certain amount of this, the best you can hope for is it to minimize it. It’s too expensive and draining to track down every misappropriated image. So why not be proactive from the very beginning!
ven with the risk of unauthorized use I still think the copyright notice is of great value. Number one, it shows due diligence on my part as the owner to protect my work. Number two, it clears up any confusion to as to whether the image is owned or public domain. Which I think helps people looking for imagery on the internet understand an picture’s provenance.
o adding the copyright notice makes a lot of sense to me. I’d rather start a conversation with someone who’s asking about permissions rather than one that starts with a DRM take down notice.
he copyright message and the website address were the two bits of information I thought were valuable enough to append to my images. The next question is how do I do that without completely ruining the beauty and message of my pictures. For this I looked to the art industry.
ll the art museums I’ve been to usually have a small unassuming note next to the art pieces stating things like: the title, artists name, and other interesting facts. Why can’t I do that to my photographs?
ell first off there’s no way I can make sure there’s a little note following my images throughout their travels on the internet. However sometimes that little note is attached to the bottom of the frame. If my information is small enough I could append it to the bottom of my works of art!
his is not a bad solution. People are already accustomed to viewing art and subliminally ignoring frames. Adding something to the bottom of an image would not be much different. My information would be apart the image and minimally obtrusive.
ow I know what you’re thinking, yea but anyone with simple photo editing software can clip the bar off the bottom. I thought that same thing and this brought me to my next step.
video produced by Aaron Nace at Phlearn about how to make a signature or logo and embed it into an image. I thought “WOW!” Most of the world’s famous painters sign their work, why not carry on that same tradition.saw a
nice stylized signature embedded in the image is much more difficult to remove. Not impossible mind you, just more difficult. The added difficulty of removing the signature brings with it an obvious attempt by someone to misappropriate an image. If I ever do end up in court I should have a stronger case that it was deliberate and malicious.
y and large I’m a fairly easy going person and would rather settle any disputes in a normal business negotiation fashion. However, if for whatever reason someone forces me into court, I want the deck stacked in my favor as much as possible. Hopefully by clearly signing and copyrighting my images I’m doing just that.
t this point I think I have met all my requirements: identified my work, labeled the work as copyrighted, how I can be reached, minimized infringements, and maintain the artistic quality of the image.
here is just one last little thing that needs to be addressed. Previously I mentioned that branding needed to be consistent and relative. For me to manually implement all the above modifications on every images I post would prove very time consuming (a.k.a. costly) and wouldn’t be very consistent.
oftware automation is the key to solving the consistency and time issue. I know Lightroom has a watermark tool and it works well but it doesn’t address all the features I have identified for myself. For me, a custom Photoshop script was be the best solution.
eing a programmer in a former life, it didn’t take me much to the cobble something together. Realizing a lot of my photography friends are facing this exact same issue, but do not possess the programming skills I do, I decided I would share my work. It may not be exactly what you want, but by providing commented and working code gives everyone an advanced starting position.
If you want a copy of the script all you need to do is highlight all the code in the window, then copy and paste it into a text editor 2. Once it’s copied to your system you can save it using any name you want with the .JSX extension. If you don’t use the .JSX extension Photoshop will not recognize it as a script. Then it’s a simple matter of putting the file in the presets/scripts folder in your Photoshop install 3.
his delivery method is a little odd, but considering how dangerous it is to download stuff from the internet. I thought a safer solution would be to publish the source code and let users just cut and paste it, eliminating the worry of viruses and other unsavory things.
hat’s pretty much my solution to this sticky mess. My images are my businesses calling card, people know they’re managed, potential clients can find me on the internet, the images are aesthetically whole, and finally automate everything so it’s consistent and quick.
know my solution is not perfect for everyone, but I thought by sharing what I learned, my thought process, and my implementation. I might be able to ease the burden and help you to a quicker resolution. Good luck and best wishes.