Beyond the Lens.

On Designing Watermarks to Further Define Our Artist Voice

Yours truly testing out the art installation before the show at Casa Colombo.

To watermark or not to watermark? That is the question.

My personal rule of thumb is:

– usually, if I post the image on social media or blogs, I do add a watermark

– if the image is for a client or publication, of course, I don’t watermark it

– if the image is part of a digital portfolio of sorts, I do not watermark it

That said, I always add metadata to my images, right after downloading them and recheck that metadata (and captions) right before submitting them to the client.

Here, I’m not going to touch on why we should (should not?) watermark our images, copyright infringements, and all that. Rather, I’ll try to touch on how to design watermarks to further enhance our work, in particular our artist voice and, perhaps, our brand.

In Studio. Lights. Camera. Action. Photo by Alina Oswald.
Lights. Camera. Action. Photo by Alina Oswald.

In general, a watermark should include the copyright symbol © or the actual word, “Copyright,” sometimes the year when the image was made, and the photographer’s name. “All Rights Reserved” can also be added, but it would also add to the overall size, and appearance, of the watermark. Some photographers choose to include additional symbols, to perhaps add to the uniqueness of their watermark design.

Watermarks can be distracting. Therefore, we need to walk that very fine line between adding a watermark, creating it, designing it, and placing it on our image so that it doesn’t distract too much from the image itself. In addition, we need to design a watermark that defines us, as photographers, and that defines our work, our artist voice, and, yes, our brand.

That is, when designing our watermark we need to consider several things, including its size, shape, and the font that we use, as well as the overall appearance of the watermark based on the style, look, feel, and mood that defines our work, our artist’s voice.

Studio Lighting. Photo by Alina Oswald.
Studio Lighting. Photo by Alina Oswald.

One other thing to consider is to keep the watermark design consistent with and throughout our work.

Myself, I’ve been through several watermark designs–from a Gothic-style one for my vampire photography to one involving some kind of calligraphy fonts for my first wedding photography jobs. But, in time, I did find my voice. Or, better said, perhaps I’ve learned how to better…express it, I believe. Hence, I’ve decided on a watermark that’s more me, more my work. At least that’s how I feel, and how I feel at this point.

Lens in black and white.
Beyond the Lens.

One more thing. Keep in mind that every font, image, sentence, and, yes, watermark that you use on your website, and in your digital or print portfolio, helps define your artist’s voice, your work, and your brand. So take your time, allow enough time to choose what works best for you and your work. In other words, choose wisely.

As always, thanks for stopping by!

Alina Oswald

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