Life in TransitA Digital Nomad in Asia

Should You Watermark Your Travel Photos?

I just finished reading a post about a photographer called Kris J B and his unfortunate experience with sharing his Mount Fuji photo.

There was some discussion about watermarks and I thought, as travellers who take lots of photos, this topic is relevant to you and I.

Watermarking is branding

Market yourself and your services with your images

From the cheapest $0.10 candy to a million dollar car, the brand name of the company that produced the item is always on the item. Similarly, there should be no issue with the name of the photographer accompanying the image.

It shows that the photographer takes pride in their work. The photographer wants to be acknowledged for the work that he believes in and stands by.

That being said, the watermark should be tasteful in design and location, working with the image rather than against it.

Provide your contact information

Often times, people argue that the photographer will get “exposure” in exchange for use of their photograph.

Let’s be honest. Few photographers really get work “by exposure”. And for the few opportunities that “exposure” might provide, it is pointless if the photographer’s contact information doesn’t appear with the image.

Your contact information is something that should accompany the watermark and not just your name. Including your phone number, email, or portfolio URL is much more useful than the word “photography”.

A watermark with the words

John Doe –


Jane Doe –


Jack Doe – +14165670987

Is a lot better than

John Doe Photography

Advocates Against Watermarking

Having said the above, I joined a recently opened social network a few years back – and I observed that the people who were against watermarking seemed to fall in the following categories:

Social Media Executives

Given the claim that people are less likely to share images with watermarks, it is then obvious that owners of social media sites would advise against watermarking.

Social media works by letting others share content. The more the content is shared, the more successful a social media will become.

Thus these executives would take a stand against watermarks as they would benefit from non-watermarked images.

People With Access To Lawyers

Let’s face it. A copyright is only as good as a person’s ability to sue for damages.

Again, I observe that some photographers with access to a legal system would advocate against watermarking.

The image without a watermark would more likely be shared. Once shared, the photographer can find a victim who can most likely pay damages, then sue him or her to profit from that work.

New / Amateur Photographers

New photographers who believe that they need “exposure” are the ones who end up giving their photos away free – photos that often cannot be traced back to them.

You can do just as good a job by marketing your work to clients in person, showing them prints instead of trying to throw your photo into a pile where most people won’t be able to acknowledge your good work.

Amateur photographers often also advocate against watermarking taking pride when their unwatermarked photo gets picked up – for free – by media outlets. This earns them bragging rights with their friends, but not necessarily new leads to paid work.

Images as a Marketing Tool

You can ask others to share the story you want to tell, and they get the readership from it, or you can direct people to your site where you can tell the story exactly how you want it to be told. This leaves the viewership with you and allows you to leverage that to fund more photo projects.

Hence leaving a URL on your images helps to direct traffic to your site. It will allow you to market yourself and your services with your images.

I hope this post gave you some things to think about as you consider the option of watermarking your images.

Do you watermark your images? Please share your thoughts on why you do or don’t.

Please share your answer in the comments below
Posted in: Journal, Recommended