I get this question a lot, and it often comes up in interviews. I know my opinion is different than many other photographers, and that is okay.
As you know, my work is all Creative Commons Non-Commercial. That means people, as long as they give credit and link back here to https://stuckincustoms.com 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 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 licensing at stuckincustoms.com – 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 – Beautiful and Classic Savannah
When I drove through Savannah, I met up with my good friend Scott Kublin who showed me some of the sights. This gem of a place was one of the first places we visited. I walked up and down the road a few times to find the most interesting place to take a photo. This one was taken with the 14-24 lens — although the other interesting shot was the 200mm shot from much further away. I decided to go with this one because I really liked the position of the sun.
The TIFF of the photo below is 984 megs, and the JPG is 124 megs! It’s about 16,000 pixels across and very fun to zoom in on as you go down the lane. I dropped it to 12,000 pixels so I could upload, but, I feel a little short-changed!
You can see the Original Size below, zoomed into 100% down the middle of the lane…
I wish Flickr would offer a premium subscription where I could post huge photos. I’d gladly pay $200 a year for a premium subscription that gets me all sorts of extra features, like big photos, high quality videos like my Vimeo sub, tier 1 tech support, and all sorts of other goodies.
Another Forest Photo, Hanging at HQ of Flickr Competitor
The fine people at Smugmug (see my portfolio there at StuckInCustoms.smugmug.com) have chosen my Bamboo Forest photo to hang inside their headquarters in California. They are actually building a 60″ lightbox behind it. I’ll see it in person in a few weeks when I go visit the crew there. I’m looking forward to it!
Daily Photo – Wormsloe, the Endless Forest of Savannah
My friend Scott Kublin (who made it to my Favorites page on my iPhone… he was at the bottom, but I just moved him up above the babysitter) lives in Savannah, so it was good to visit him on my little road trip. He commented that regular visitors to Stuck In Customs would probably like to see current shots while I am traveling around! So, here it is! However, this one took about 3-4 hours to edit, five cups of coffee, and several pieces of pie. Did you see my little “Buy Trey Chocolate For Energy” there in the right column? Yes, I burn through copious calories to create these things. This one almost broke my back, but I am very happy with it.
Some of you may remember this place from Forest Gump… A lot of it was shot down in Savannah. Besides Wormsloe, I also visited some amazingly moody cemeteries, draped in mossy trees. I’ll get to editing those photos another time… maybe when I get back home to Texas!
The photo above, zoomed to 100% in Photoshop, right down the lane…
Here is another shot from the little video I did with Scott Kublin. He followed me around with a video camera for a while and asked me questions. It wasn’t planned or anything, but it came out pretty good! I helped him and Rick a bit with their HDR photography while we moved around Olympic Park. That link above takes you to the short version of the video. The longer one is avail in Newsletter #3 — you get a link there when you subscribe.
There is a curvy street that cuts through the middle of Olympic Park in Atlanta. It wasn’t too far from here where that bomb went off in 1996 Atlanta. I was actually there with my friend Scott Sadowski when it went off! I was not too close to the blast, so I was not in any danger… but we did hear it and see the commotion. So I was there for that bombing AND I was in NYC during 9/11 and saw the 2nd plane hit the WTC. I had meetings in the financial district that day, and we ended up getting stuck in NYC for many days while the airports were shut down. Again, I was not close enough to be in danger… But… I have a knack for being in sketchy situations, I guess!
My friend Scott has posted a new video on my HDR Photography that features me walking around Olympic Park in Atlanta taking photos. It’s up on his blog, so follow that link over to take a look! He’s just starting to learn more and more about photography, and he asked if he could follow me for a while with a video camera. I told him that would be perfectly fine. He was nice enough to edit it together into a nice little 8-minute piece there. I hope you enjoy it.
There is a longer “uncut” version of the video that goes on for 45 minutes. I’ll include a secret link to that just to Newsletter subscribers. The next newsletter should come out in the next few days… so get ready! (It’s Free!) (and even better, I promise not to Spam you… I have no Nigerian opportunities to extend to you)
There is one part of the longer video where I set up to take a shot of the Coke Museum. Scott didn’t get the security guard walking up to us… but at least you can see a bit of the situation on the ground and what a threat we were posing! (full article on Nearly Getting Arrested in Downtown Atlanta here)
This photo below is one of the many I took that evening with Scott and Rick. I described the best way to get these silky strands on the waterfall… everyone likes those, right?
I was with my friends Scott and Rick in Atlanta a few weekends ago. While there, Scott pulled out his video camera and started following me, asking all kinds of questions about photography. He’s just getting started with his DSLR and so is Rick. Scott has made a few HDRs and was already hooked, so he thought it would be a good idea to videotape me for a few hours and just ask a bunch of questions while I set up for HDRs.
Scott just sent me an advance look at the final cut of the video he made… it’s very cool! I am going to share it with everyone in the Newsletter shortly. I think we should get it out in the next week or so. I’ll also have a longer uncut version available exclusively for Newsletter subscribers (yes it is FREE). It was very nice of Scott to make the video and I’m excited to share it. Below is one of the four photos I took in the video.
The second screenshot below is from Flickr. We are probably 10 days or so from breaking 20 million views on Flickr. Thanks everyone! I’ll buy a Coke for the 20 millionth visitor!
Here is an HDR photo of downtown Atlanta from Olympic Park. This is not the shot I wanted, although I am still happy with it.
I had a run-in with the law this evening while I was with my friends Scott Kublin and Rick Shearer. Just next door to the Olympic Park is the aquarium and the Coke Museum with a big field in between. There were about a fifty people or so there at the park. I set up my tripod to take a photo of downtown and the Coke Museum was in the middle of the shot. A female cop of came over and told me I had to take down the tripod because I looked like a professional. Coke does not allow that, so she said. I said I’m a blogger with expensive toys and hardly a threat. Then she got quite huffy and agitated before telling me if I did not take down the tripod that I would be arrested.
This policy is absurd. She claimed that Coke is worried about their brand and image so professionals need special permission. So, it’s okay for amateurs with crappy camera-phones to take photos and upload to Facebook and Flickr? But not me, someone that can make their building look amazing? And they don’t want their pretty museum to be on a popular travel blog that gets over a quarter million visits a month and millions a year? Or even, who cares if I was not that popular and only 10 people saw it?
In fact, in the world of social media, Coke (and every other company with old-rules made by out-of-touch people) should welcome people like me that are making their brand even more popular.
And to think, I had just had a Coke.
Additional Note: There’s also quite a discussion happening over on the Facebook Thread and the Flickr Thread if you want to read even more about it! Thanks again for the interesting discussion and your insightful stories!
Finally, here is a useful guide for all the legalities around photography…