But all those other articles forget to ask one simple, yet important question:
What is the purpose of my watermark?
If you have a watermark or if you want to create one – STOP. Answer the question above. That answer will affect the style, design and the placement of your watermark.
I need a watermark to protect my work…
You can add watermarks to photos that you want to protect from copyright infringement. These types of watermarks are the most intrusive and they work in the same way as the security tags in retail. They keep stuff safe, but are hideous and a nuisance to the users.
If you want good protection, you’ll have to follow the standard set by the stock agencies. The watermark should cover the whole photo and have opacity at about 50%. This will be enough to eliminate most of the copyright infringement.
The idea behind this is to create a hard to remove watermark without ruining the underlying photo.
Always include your business name or webpage in the watermark. You want to provide a quick and easy way for potential clients to check the licensing. Do not use a hard to read font or weird logos without any accompanying text. You want people to buy your work, so make it easier for them to do so.
I need a watermark to promote my business
You can add watermarks to promote your business and drive traffic to your webpage. These watermarks are small and unobtrusive. Their purpose is to promote your work, not to protect it. This type of a watermark will not help you in protecting your work.
A good promotional watermark does not stand out. It’s a small business card that pleasantly reminds the viewer that a person with a name (and a business) took that photo, and that they can be hired to do more photos.
There is no need for fancy fonts and complicated logos. Just a simple webpage address or a business name is often enough. Try to keep it as simple as possible. You do not want your watermark to overpower your photo.
Even National Geographic is using a small logo and two lines of text as their watermark. To see it in action you have to download one of their images (jpg, 340kb).
I do not need a watermark
Sometimes it is better not to have a watermark. A good watermark has text, and as you know text automatically captures the viewer’s gaze (science!). This means that a watermark can actually ruin the viewing experience, because text is a distracting element.
Personally I do not use watermarks. I do not need to protect my photos and I ditched the promotional benefits of a watermark for a better viewing experience. This works for me, but this wouldn’t work for your stock photos. You have to decide for yourself on what kind of watermark you need.
When you’re designing a watermark, ask yourself – What is the purpose of it?
If you want to protect your rights, have a watermark that is hard to remove, but still keeps the photo visible. If you want to promote your work, have a watermark that quietly shouts the name of your business. If you want to provide the best viewing enjoyment, don’t use a watermark.
It’s that simple.