What is Watermarking, and Should You Do It?

If you create any kind of visual content, watermarking is something you have to be aware of. It’s basically a process that includes placing a logo or text on top of a document or photo file to protect your rights to something you created. While it’s mostly done digitally these days, the idea for watermarking your creations dates back centuries. Back then, a watermark was only visible only when the paper was held up to the light or when it got wet, and so the process of watermarking could happen only when the paper was wet – which is where the term originates from.

Many young professionals who are just starting their journeys as photographers, videographers, or digital marketers tend to underestimate the value of watermarking their creations. In turn, that leads to many of them seeing their work being used without their consent and without receiving any credit for it.

In this article, we will be talking all about why watermarking images and documents is important, as well as discuss watermarking techniques that will be effective for the kind of work you do.

What is Watermarking Used For?

There are a few reasons you will want to use a watermark for an image or a document. On the one hand, watermarking is what helps protect the copyright of your work so that it cannot be altered or reused without your permission. Essentially, this means that people can still see your work before purchasing it, but they cannot steal it.

Another way to use watermarking is as a branding tactic. Much like painters used to mark their paintings with a signature, a digital watermark is a way for you to get your name out there and increase brand awareness. That happens thanks to the fact that anytime your work is shared on any social media platform, your name and brand are always there as well.

Along with that, a digital watermark can be used as a stamp to indicate the status of a document, with terms like “SAMPLE”, “COPY,” or “VOID.” This helps ensure that important documents don’t get mishandled, thus ensuring your work remains organized from the first draft to the final version.

Where Can You Find Watermarks?

You will be surprised to learn that you see watermarks a lot more often than you probably realize. There are many watermarks on a lot of professional photographs or stock images. When you search for an image on Google, you’re likely to see many stock photos that are all covered with watermarks. Thus, you can access the original only if you purchase it from the owner and do get the copyright. This also applies to a lot of documents you might find online as well, like a preview for a white book or a research paper. Along with that, if you ever use digital contracts or other legal paperwork online, you’re also likely to see watermarks there. That’s because watermarks can also protect confidential information and indicate that a document is valid.

A fun fact is that watermarking can be seen on banknotes as well, as they’re able to prevent counterfeiting.

When it comes to branding, you’ll see visible watermarks on a lot of visual art, designs, professional photography, and even memes, especially when they’re shared on social media. Both influencers and content creators use watermarks to make sure that if anything they make goes viral, their brand will still be present. Thanks to new developments, some websites now automatically add watermarks whenever users save the images they’ve published. For example, Reddit will add its watermark to any image you download from its app.

There’s also a chance that you will want to watermark your personal photos and files. The fact that you share private pictures on social media networks doesn’t mean that you need to permit people to use them. If you want to protect your own pictures and memories, you may opt to put a watermark on those photographs whenever you share them online.

How to Create a Watermark That Works For You

The way your watermarks look is totally up to you and what you want to achieve in terms of style. The good thing is that you have several different file types that serve various purposes. A watermark could be an image, text, or logo. It can be incredibly subtle or easily visible on a photo or a document. You may want your watermark to have copyright information, like your name or logo, but it can also have status information such as “For Review” or “Draft.”

If you’re watermarking the content you hope to sell online, you can opt for a semi-transparent watermark covering the entire photo. It’s vital to remember that if your watermark is tiny and placed in a corner, it can easily get cropped out by someone who wants to steal your work. On the other hand, if you’re watermarking your image to protect your work, it’s good to place your watermark in a place where it can’t be easily photoshopped out. If you position it over a solid background, anyone with some photoshop skills can quickly remove it, which is why the standard rule is to place it on a busier part of the image.

Another thing you may notice is that on many tabloid and photojournalist photos, the watermark is placed over the subject of the photo. That’s because they know where the money is – and when they place watermarks over the part of the image people want to see, they’re making sure that no one can profit from their work without their consent.

If you want to use a watermark to promote your brand, you can blend it into the photograph to give it a more natural look. Here you can opt for more subtle branding, or you may try designing an eye-catching watermark.

The main thing you need to consider here is why you’re doing the watermarking: getting money from your work, protecting your work, or simply ensuring your brand gets promoted if your work becomes popular.

Make Sure to Remember

Hopefully, you found the answer to the question “what is watermarking?” If you’re sharing any of your work online, you need to make sure you have a watermark. Regardless of why you’re sharing your content, it’s likely that you will want to get credit for it in one way or another, and here’s where watermarking becomes your best friend. It’s the best way to claim your copyright and ensure that your work always carries your brand.

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