I’ve been having a dilemma. Should I put watermarks and signatures on my digital and printed photos. At what places and in what occasions.
There are many problems here that I think every photographer solves for himself but it’s often wrong.
Let’s break it down into two categories printed works and digital works.
Obviously with printed works I don’t put any watermarks across the images but my dilemma is with signatures. And with printed works it’s not the question of protecting the work but about what’s better looking, better practice and what adds or decreases the value of the final product.
As a no-name photographer, should I put my signature digitally on the front of the image (left or right corner) or should I sign it at the back and leave the front of the print clean?
Do I loose or gain any value by signing it at the front for everyone to see? Does it reduce from the experience?
Should I and what should I write on the back?
Here the issue is mostly about protecting the work but also about branding. Images are often shared and reshared without a credit. Should one put a signature on every “pro” image shared online to increase it’s branding presence and establish his/her name or does that look amateurish?
Obviously when delivering images that to the client for selection I put a watermark at the middle of the image. And the final deliverable is a clean image without any watermark or signatures.
The issue is with websites and social media. Should I put a signature at the corner? Should I put a watermark at the corner? Should I put it in the middle of the image?
I’ve had images on social media with a signature in the lower right/left corner but that didn’t stop a company to steal it, crop it and start producing magnets, post cards etc. That’s when I removed everything.
Recently I’ve heard a suggestion that I should publish my work online without any watermarks or signatures and just call a lawyer to make me some larger sum of money when somebody steals my work. And that I should basically bait people to sue them later for a good sum. That was told to me by some lawyer. I find that idea repulsive but the guy has a point tho. If I’ve sued or just ha a lawyer send the invoice every time someone stole my work I could have probably earned more money then by selling digital images and prints. They did make money off of my work after all.
Also this issue seems to be the same in printed works, people buy your print, scan it or just take a picture with their phone and start using your image in their products.
What do you think? Is there some sort of established practice for this? I mean using signatures and watermarks, placement etc across various mediums? Would I be a bad person to basically post everything online and just have some guy suing and sending invoices to everyone? I was assured that most people pay up without the case ever going to court. And I’m talking like 4-5k eur per photo which is roughly half what a person makes here in a year.
Btw, this was told to me by a lawyer at some print shop and not the official consultation. I think he hangs around there and gives out cards to every photographer so he might be just baiting me and others
Now this one is a real head spinner for me but makes complete sense and a real danger in today’s world of IP as I understand it (with my little understanding of IP besides GPL, BSD, MIT and CC). I’ve heard recently that even a signature can be stolen and that if one is serious about it he must trademark it. Otherwise someone might take your signature, create a trademark and sue you.