The Alps in the Afternoon and Why I Don’t Use Watermarks – Stuck in Customs

The Alps in the Afternoon and Why I Don’t Use Watermarks

Why I Don’t Use Watermarks 2.0

BTW, this spawned a hot discussion in this Google+ Thread!

I’ve recently updated this list… so I thought you might like the new version and explanation since i get this question a lot.

I know my opinion is different than many other photographers, and that is okay.

As you may know, my work is all Creative Commons Non-Commercial. That means people, as long as they give credit and link back to, can use my images on their blogs, wallpaper, personal use – anything – as long as it is not used commercially. Every day, I upload a HUGE 6000+ pixel max-resolution image to the Internet. I do not have any fear at all… Believe me, it’s quite liberating living in a world without internet-stealth-fear.

People that want to license our images regularly contact our licensing team – we get many of these every day of the week.

So why don’t I use watermarks? It’s a multi-part philosophy –

1) Watermarks look ugly. Whenever I look at a photo with a watermark, often times, ALL I can think about is that watermark! It’s so distracting. Maybe this is just me.

2) Legitimate companies do not steal images to use commercially. So I don’t have any logical fear there.

3) There are other services, like Tineye (and Google) that can help my team easily find bottom-feeders.

4) We do register our images with the copyright office, so if someone uses an image commercially without a proper license, it is an easy lawsuit.

5) I don’t have to maintain two versions of each image – one with a watermark and one without.

6) NOT using watermarks and using creative commons helps more and more people to use your image freely for fun, which increases traffic and builds something I call “internet-trust.”

7) As image search and image recognition get better and better, there will be no need to watermark things. In 1 year+, we’ll be able to r-click an image and choose “Google-find the original creator” — there is a bit trail to first-on-the-internet.

8) Yes, last, there will be bottom-feeders that steal your stuff. I call this the cost of doing business on the internet. These are the Tic-Tacs that are stolen from the 7-11. It is impossible to maintain 100% of your digital inventory, so wanting “perfection” in your online strategy is an illusion.

Daily Photo – The Alps in the Afternoon

The more rugged the mountains, the better they look with a low angle of incidence of the light. Of course, they also look great in the middle of the day, but since the rugged peaks are in three dimensions, you get many extra angles of contrast when the sun is low.

These kind of shots help me remember the fake symbology built up in my head of the shape-of-mountains. I got a bit of this when I was learning to draw… when drawing a human face, it takes a long time to get rid of that thing that is drilled into you as a kid — that the eye is sort of the shape of a football. If you try to do that with a good drawing, it never works. And, it’s sort of the same way with mountains. In my head, I still have to stop thinking of them as a rugged 2D line. It’s thousands of 2D lines, crawling this way and that, but I can usually only see one of them. But, on late afternoons like this, you can start to see hundreds of more lines.