Lightroom and services like SmugMug offer users the ability to watermark images in just a few minutes. But an argument still rages about whether adding one to your images is protecting them, ruining them, or both.

If and how you apply a watermark is ultimately a personal decsion. There is no right or wrong answer and industry standards vary widely. But here at PopPhoto we see a lot of photographs, and unfortunately, it’s not unusual to see good work being obscured by unsightly watermarks.

In an attempt to save good photographs from bad watermarks we’ve put together this guide.


Most photographers choose to watermark their images for two reasons: to prevent copyright infringement or to create an indelible brand.

Watermarking a photograph was once seen as a fairly effective way to prevent theft and protect the copyright of your image. Lester Lefkowitz, a commercial photographer for over 30 years and a professor at ICP, still places his name directly in the middle of every one of his pictures.

“If you look on my website all of my pictures are watermarked and here is why,” he explains. “My pictures are very useable for commercial purposes: their subject matter is a scientist in a laboratory, it is somebody driving a truck.”

While watermarking can help protect your image, it isn’t failproof. Technology has made it easier to remove these marks and Lefkowitz admits that a skilled Photoshop user could likely erase his massive watermark. Social media has also changed the way people interact with photographs and think about sharing them online—many people post images on sites like Tumblr and Facebook without realizing they may be stealing, and free online presentation makers use images all the time to create presentations.

“I think watermarking to stop someone from downloading images is kind of pointless,” says Michelle Bogre, an intellectual property lawyer and associate professor at The New School’s Photography Program. “I don’t think the kinds of infringements that you should be concerned about are going to happen with a 72 dpi image that you put online.”

So, a watermark isn’t a perfect means of protection for an image, but it can, however, be a valuable branding opportunity.

More at – DD Photographics