Digital Watermark

I certainly don’t wish offend anyone and I appreciate that it is each persons right to watermark their images if they want to.

My question is, in this forum which is closed to members, what is the point of a watermark. We know who is the author of each image, plus with todays software a watermark is no deterrent to copying an image and removing said watermark.

I have had a website for over 20 years and I certainly did watermark my images in the early days. These days with upsizing software and generative fill there is little likelihood of preventing your image from being stolen if that is the intent.

Just curious. I may add that there are some very detailed and artistic signature watermarks.

I watermark my images here because the TK9 action I use to resize and convert to sRGB also adds a logo. I could turn off the step to add a logo when posting on NPN, but can’t be bothered to add another step to my workflow.

I’ve never bothered with a watermark for the simple fact that I don’t feel I’m so envied/noticed/important that people are out to steal my work. Not making my living with my images adds to this, but honestly I doubt that anyone but the most famous photographers are in danger of this routinely. And yeah, upsizing and other digital chicanery make it easy to remove said watermarks. I find them annoying and irritating, too, especially on NPN, but adding them isn’t my call so I don’t say anything and try to imagine images without them.


Even though NPN is private to participate, anyone can view the images and discussions without having an account. The ability to download the full size version is not available unless you are a member, and we have disabled right clicking on images to help with security somewhat. But this can easily be bypassed if you have just a little bit of knowledge of how to get around this in a browser. So, if you’re concerned about someone stealing your image, you should watermark anytime you post something on the web, not just on NPN.

That said, I myself am a professional photographer and I don’t use watermarks. I feel they take away from the image and I’m just not that concerned about theft myself. You can make a lot of money chasing copyright infringements, and the payouts are much higher when a watermark was intentionally removed, you could be talking six figures! But I have no interest in pursuing money this way, I’d rather focus on creating art myself :man_shrugging:t3:


Hi David, I’m sorry if I sound miserable but I do have a problem with that. Personally, the physical, mental, emotional and financial cost of my images up to this point is too high to give away my shooting data and processing considerations/steps to the wider internet which, as we see, is less than a nice place (to say the least!) In fact, this is one of the reasons why I have not been participating in the forum as much as I would have liked to.

To be clear, I’m not saying you should not watermark your images, this is completely personal choice.

I’m sorry to hear that you have not been participating because of the fears of image theft, sadly it’s the reality of the internet, if you post anywhere online, it can be stolen, there is no way around that. Keeping things completely private to members can help with that, but if we don’t give people a taste of what NPN has to offer, it’s much harder to get them to sign up and then we don’t have a sustainable site in the future.


I am not so much afraid of image theft as of my “trade secrets”. In my case, it has cost me hundreds of hours in the water to figure out the right shutter speeds and thousands in terms of money.

More and more, there is a drive to target smaller but more committed audiences. Only last week behance introduced features to limit the visibility of projects to people who have been given a password, a link or subscribe to content. Personally, I would be willing to pay more to have more privacy on NPN… I know, I know some may be not be so pleased to see me pleading for a price increase… but I think that a higher price barrier would make people who join more committed to using the site. Many a time I have commented on people’s post who just disappeared off the site shortly after joining. I found this to be very unpleasant. But I also understand that you need the numbers in order to survive. It’s a very fine balance between quantity and quality.

I’ve been hit and miss with the process over the years. These days it might be an older image that I just did not reprocess and remove the water-mark.
I started too many years ago now to recall. But, I found a lady who copied an image and was selling greeting cards of the image on line. I contacted her by email and she dropped it.
Needless to say, @mark28 @David_Kingham comments are solid points. Even if right click is disabled they will get the image. In the end I guess it becomes a personal comfort factor. Unfortunately it is only a warning sign to a real “Image Snatcher”. .

Hi Mark,

First of all, looks like you joined NPN recently, so welcome aboard!

No, I’m not offended, but would like to offer something that no one has mentioned or perhaps hasn’t considered.

Before I do that, I agree with David and most that there’s not much that can be done about malicious intent for those who would copy, steal or otherwise use our images without consent. A “signature” won’t stop anything. And in so many cases, a poorly designed or placed watermark is at best a distraction, and worse, annoying!

Other than a distracting or an annoying application of the watermark, I’d ask the question, why do you care? Who are we to judge why or why not someone wants to put a signature on their image?
I’m asking rhetorically, so please don’t take personally.

I’m one that has been using a signature since I can remember. And believe me, I’ve doubted the need for a long time and understand all that has been discussed here. In the end, I’m a creature of habit.

Having said all that, let me offer something for consideration. Pride of ownership. Name recognition. Operating a business.

I too go way back in time. Had a camera since I was 12. I’m 64. In the early 1990’s I had visions of selling my images, my work. I built my first website in 1995. I sold some stock images, I submitted to many, many publications; calendars, magazines, contests. I signed my prints. I had a number of gallery shows, and tried the weekend art fairs. I even tried to sell limited editions… I created contracts with image use restrictions, etc. etc. And back in the day… there weren’t the tools, web-sites, apps (started with PS CS2?). All of that was based on protecting your work and making a name for yourself. Back in the day… That’s where I came from. I’m proud of my images; call it big, fat ego’s or whatever, I was trying to get my name out there and sell my work. FF 30 years… I never made the commitment to fullfill my photography career… I’m good with that, but alas, I still like putting my name on my images. And now, I’m still proud my work.

I probably will re-think and skip the watermark. However, and since I haven’t posted since probably before you joined, (you’ll have to search…) but I also frame my images (another discussion perhaps… ) AND I include my name AGAIN in the same presented image within the frame. Why, some make ask? Well here’s why. Again, it’s about being proud of what I do. This is just my outlook… but putting a frame around my image, makes me bring back those thougts of my prints hanging in a gallery; signed, framedprints. I’m just being honest.

OF COURSE NPN is a nature photography image CRITIQUE site and not an art gallery. I get it. But NPN is the place, the community that I connect with… and so I will post images looking for critique and ways to improve my photography and images.

Framing and digitally signing one’s images to post in an online forum is overkill and not really needed, I can agree with that. I just offer this for consideration and food for thought. Signing ones image could really be as simple as acknowledgement on the time, effort and heart one puts in to presenting their work.

Thanks for your time. Speaking of time, maybe I’ll find some to start posting again!

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Thank you Lon for a considered and comprehensive reply.

You raise some valid reasons why someone would wish to watermark their images. As I mentioned there are quite a few here that are obviously a way of promoting the photographers name and/or website to gain further recognition. Considerable effort made to make the watermark pleasing to the eye lets say. As you mention a sense of pride in their work. I can understand that and certainly don’t take issue.

I confess I didn’t realize that the images and discussions were open to the public. I was a member of NPN many years ago when it was all green and white. I left probably 10 years ago. I saw a recent interview of David Kingham with Alister Benn so decided to re-join so I didn’t investigate the website in too much detail. Now, knowing that, I still will not be watermarking my images as I feel it is an impotent deterrent given the current technology. As @LauraEmerson pointed out its the loss of ideas that is an issue rather than the image itself.

For me I find watermarks distracting and as mentioned little to no effect on image theft, however, I can understand there are a myriad of reasons why people still want to have one that have nothing to do with theft as you have pointed out.

I did look up some of your images and enjoyed their abstract aesthetic. Your frame did not bother me, except for the watermark :stuck_out_tongue_winking_eye:
A few years ago I was a moderator on a few Australian Photographic Society forums. We were limited in size of image post and I requested that a contributor refrain from placing their image within a frame. After a friendly, robust discussion they convinced me that their reasoning was valid and no more was said.

Thanks again for putting forward a different perspective.

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@Lon_Overacker …YIKES…you might want to step up the Vitameatavegam health tonic, as Lucy would mention… :laughing:
At my age the hourly intake of Prevagen and monthly facial barnacle removing is also required… :cowboy_hat_face:
Nice to see your post here, Lon…take care !


A quick thought on watermarks: they’re not just about deterring theft, which for me, is the least of my concerns. For over 15 years, my watermark has been more than a protective measure—it’s been a signature that accompanies the 6 million-plus views of my images on Google. It’s a hallmark of my journey and the conversations and connections it’s sparked with viewers worldwide. Removing that mark undermines not just legal rights, but the story behind the image. Watermarks are personal; mine encapsulates the identity of my work and the authenticity I stand for. And for that, it remains invaluable.

. This Award is driven by volume of views and not any skill level it is achievable by anyone willing to share images of their travels etc.

I find your watermark very elegant and beautiful. And definitely a necessity in the circumstances that you describe. A quick visual identifier is paramount if people want to know more about your work, especially when your images are reposted by third parties who may not always give very visible credit, or indeed none at all. Congrats on the views!


I put a small watermark at the lower right side of my photos. I have for years. It’s not invasive and identifies my photo as mine. I have had people look me up after seeing my photo posted elsewhere. I see it kind of like Heinz not labeling their catchup. Who would know whose product it is?

I find it funny that watermarks seem to bother other photographers more than they do viewers.

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I have to disagree with you there Gary. I know many non-photographers that are dismayed that a wonderful image is “marred” by a watermark/logo etc.
Photographers that watermark their images obviously have no issue with it and of those that don’t there would be a smaller subset that are not bothered by it. So I guess we are looking at a quite small percentage of photographers that are.

I fully understand a photographer wanting to promote their brand as it were with an identifiable watermark. No issue there.
I guess the reason for my question was in relation to this specific forum rather than other online areas that an image may be displayed.

Thanks, Laura. The real benefit of the watermark is how it’s allowed for conversations with people curious about the places or subjects in my photos. I’ve gained a lot from the various perspectives and detailed knowledge about different locations, which has been incredibly valuable. I guess its a sort of a calling card. :pray:

My experience is that those who are bothered want to use the photo. I’ve been playing this game a long time so my opinion isn’t unfounded. My gentle signature on my online photos has benefitted my business more than it has hurt it, and those who are bothered by it mean nothing in the scope of my business.

I can’t understand why other photographers even care that another photographer does it.

I will agree that it’s not important in this venue but in the wild, wild west that’s the Internet I think that it’s a different situation.

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I view watermarks as a personal touch, akin to signing your work. In communities like NPN I believe we are encouraged to express ourselves freely, which includes presenting our work in the way we feel is best, watermark included. This isn’t a competition with the rigors that come with it, the minor distraction of a watermark should have little to no impact. Of course, if someone finds it distracting, I’m open to hearing their perspective. Based on such feedback, I’ve even adjusted my watermark to be less noticeable. However, completely removing it? That’s not for me. It’s about finding a balance between staying true to my style and being receptive to constructive feedback. If your style is watermark free I respect your choice.

Don. To be perfectly honest it was your watermark that was the catalyst for this discussion. I found it totally intrusive, more so given the minimalist nature of your agave images.
As I have mentioned previously, if thats what you want to do then its fine by me and I get it as a branding perspective. I guess my issue was, in this forum where we know who the author is and we respect their copyright and will not repost an image, what is the point. It serves no purpose in this environment. I fully understand in the world that is the internet, instagram etc that it is more appropriate to brand your image despite it being easily erased.

If you want to keep watermarking your images then I have no issue with that. I just wanted to know how others felt. Again it was within the context of this image forum rather than the internet at large.