I Will No Longer Use A Watermark On My Photos

May 25, 2016  •  3 Comments

This is something I have been thinking about for a while now. Whenever I create an image that I totally love and then try to find a place on the art to stick my watermark, I find myself asking “why the hell am I doing this”?. The bottomline, for me at least, is WATERMARKS LOOK UGLY AND GET IN THE WAY OF THE ART.

So, I have decided to do something that I know my fellow photographer friends will question and think I have lost my mind.

HERE IT IS: From now on (or at least until something happens to change my mind) all my photos will be licensed Creative Commons Non-Commercial. That means, as long as I am given credit and a link back to ColbyFiles.com, anyone can use my images on their blogs, wallpaper, personal use – anything – as long as it is not used commercially.

Why am I doing this?
Okay, so here are some of the reasons:

1) Watermarks look ugly. Plain and simple.

2) I don’t have to maintain two versions of each image – one with a watermark and one without.

3) I choose to quit worrying about my images getting stolen.
Legitimate companies do not steal images to use commercially. So I don’t see logical fear there. As image search and recognition technology gets better and better, there will be no need to watermark things from a copyright perspective. In a very short time, we’ll be able to use online tools to find the original creator of an image. There are already services, like Google Reverse Image Search, and an app called TinEye that can help me easily find bottom-feeders that DO use my images commercially.

"Haunted" with Drea Nicole"Haunted" with Drea Nicole The bottom line...It does not matter. if someone wants to steal your image they indeed will. If you don’t want your 

images to get stolen, don’t put them on the internet. Simple as that.

I have registered most of my images with the copyright office and will continue until I get them all registered. I might be wrong, but if someone uses an image commercially without a proper license, it might be an easy lawsuit. Even then, I suppose the bottom feeder could claim they simply “repurposed” my art under the Fair Use provision of copyright law. So again, if we don’t want our images to get stolen, don’t put them on the internet.

4) More Google Juice
NOT using watermarks and using creative commons might encourage more and more people to use my image freely for fun, which in turn might increase my web traffic. Plus, if more people link to my images, the more Google juice that flows down the river, right?

5) Advertising via the watermark? Who cares?
Fact of the matter is, I will never make much money doing this. Instead of getting noticed by the watermark, perhaps the link backs might result in some print or download sales, and perhaps some paying portraiture clients. But, to think that my watermark might help me get noticed by someone that would like to shoot with me? Ridiculous. Let’s be real...if someone likes a photo, they can look in the description field for the credits information. Almost all social media platforms have my name right next to the image, even if it’s shared. So much for the advertising argument.   

6) Lastly...THE EGO. GET OVER IT.

Besides the reasons stated above, perhaps the biggest reason I have watermarked my photos is my big fat ego. What a joke. Who do I think I am? Picasso? Ansel Adams? “Look at my amazing photo and see my logo?....that’s me”. LMAO. The important thing should be that the viewer enjoyed the art...or not.

So, I am turning a leaf. From now on it’s all about the art, just the art and nothing but the art. No logos. No watermarks. No chest pounding. No grandstanding. No more big deal about copyright infringements. Instead, if you like it...use it. If you like it...make it your wallpaper, use it in your blog, repost, share it, whatever you want. And if you are an upstanding member of the arts community, you’ll give me credit and link back.  BUT MOSTLY: Just enjoy it.


From using site such as tumblr, other social platforms, I have learned that if you ask nicely your work can be shared while giving you credit. There is no need for the logo attached. Also from the same site if someone is going to pirate the image they will do so. With art I have learned that you are going to get the good with the bad. You made if very clear in the beginning of the post. Companies and well meaning individuals will pay for your work and or give credit where credit is due.

So there is no need to worry.

Great post.
Calvin Smith(non-registered)
Man, this is like a breath of fresh air just blew through the room. Everything you mentioned make perfect sense. Why stress it. Just put the art out there. The watermark does nothing to prevent an image from being use, by anyone, at anytime, almost for any reason. Good stuff Colb.
Nancy Heimstra(non-registered)
Bravo!! I salute you fine sir. And am a huge fan of your work!!
No comments posted.