If you follow my page, you may have noticed that I don't watermark my images. There are some exceptions, of course. If I'm selling digital images, I add a watermark via my ShootProof gallery to combat illegal downloads or screenshots. Once the digitals are purchased, the watermark disappears completely. For images already purchased as part of a package, I don't bother. Why?
Well, for one thing, I create images for their artistic value. I take pleasure in viewing an unblemished image, with no signature to draw the eye away from the subject of my photograph. No matter how small and unassuming a watermark is (and I find very few are), my attention is always drawn to it.
Aren't you worried about your images being stolen?
Not especially. If someone is going to steal an image and pass it off as their own, they'll find a way. A watermark isn't going to change someone's morals. If someone is using a photograph without crediting me, it's hardly the end of the world. I might ask politely for a credit, but ultimately, unless they are using the image for commercial purposes, they're probably using the image exactly as I intended--for enjoyment. Yes, credit is always nice, but not always necessary. Besides that, an image is copyrighted the moment the shutter is pressed. If someone is using my images for monetary gain, or cropping/otherwise deliberately altering my images, it would be easy to prove ownership from the metadata and seek damages.
But aren't you losing out on potential advertising?
Maybe! But if someone sees a photo on a friend's feed and really appreciates the image, odds are just as good that they'll ask who the photographer was. Word-of-mouth is far more valuable advertising, in my opinion, than any watermark. And let's face it: no one is looking at a photo and thinking, "Wow, what a unique watermark! I simply must have that photographer!" The image speaks volumes for itself.
Yes, I do think there are photographers out there that have some cool watermarks. And hey, maybe they're protecting their work better than I am. But in the end it's a choice, and watermarks just aren't for me. I've tried them in the past and I don't feel that they add anything of value to my work. And ultimately, I'm here to create works of art for my clients. It's an opportunity and a responsibility I don't take lightly, and I know those that hire me appreciate the labor of love that goes into every single memory captured.