How to watermark your photos

Young woman using laptop at home to find out how to watermark photos

The internet is a complex place, and it can be extremely difficult to keep track of images once they’ve been uploaded. Although it is true that images you take yourself are automatically protected by copyright, once those images go online it is so easy for someone to copy or save your image and use it on their site – and you might not even realise that they’ve done it! We’ve already written a blog about stamping a copyright logo to your image, but these can be easily cropped off, whereas it’s impossible to use a watermarked photo without making it clear where the image came from.

What is a watermark?

Traditionally, a watermark is a translucent phrase or a logo embossed directly onto an image, meaning that both the watermark and the image are both still visible. Although we are talking about watermarks on digital images today, as a society we have been using watermarks for centuries; you’ll find them on banknotes, passports and reams of branded paper. In fact, the first practice of watermarking dates back to the Fabriano paper mill in Milan in 1282, when papermaking started to become a common practice. 

Nowadays, however, it’s possible to apply “digital watermarks” to your images. This means you don’t have to have something embossed on top of your image. It is invisible, but indelible; some providers like IMATAG change the pixel values themselves to encode a secret message, imperceptible to the human eye. Even if the image is cropped, scaled, colour-edited or compressed, the digital watermark will remain. 

Do you need a watermark?

If you have a photography website or are uploading your own photos on your website builder, then it’s a good idea to watermark them. They are your intellectual property, and especially if you are trying to develop a particular brand image with your photos, the last thing you want is someone else passing these images off as your own. 

Although visible watermarks can seem obtrusive, they are more likely to dissuade photo thieves from taking your image, whereas if you place a copyright logo in the bottom of the picture, it’s easy for someone to crop this out of the image. Creating a subtle but visible watermark can ease your mind and keep your photography safe. Invisible watermarks remove the issue of affecting the image, but you’ll have to manually check to see if people have used your photos on their websites and you normally have to pay a fee to do it. 

Watermark software

Visible watermarking

When creating visible watermarks for your images, you can choose between using paid or free software. Although paid photo editors like Adobe Photoshop have dedicated watermark tools, it’s not worth paying for the software unless you already use it for other purposes. You can even create a basic visible watermark in Microsoft Paint!

Make sure that you don’t use a watermark that is too faint or too small, as photo editors can remove these types of watermarks. However, if it is too obvious, then it will compromise the appearance and composition of the original photo. 

A+ Signature is available through the iTunes store, and allows you to easily add a watermark to your images. Marksta gives you various options to watermark your photos, so you can make sure it’s the right size and opacity for you. If you’re a Windows user, uMark or Watermark are also options that make it simple to add watermarks to your images. 

But what should you choose to add as a watermark? You can add the copyright logo, or your brand’s logo as a watermark, or a string of text; your name, business name or image description could work well here. 

Digital watermarking

Digital watermarking is invisible and adds data to the original file, meaning that the watermark remains on the image regardless of the image type you use or any image editing that takes place. This might be a good idea if you have a photography business and you don’t want your images to be compromised by a visible watermark. 

Unfortunately, most digital watermarking providers charge for this service. IceMark costs around £40 for an application that lets you watermark as many images as you like, or DigiMarc is a good option for large-batch corporate images but costs around £40 annually. 

How can I avoid watermarking and copyright issues?

If this all seems too complicated and you just want pictures to enhance your web design rather than to publicise your own photography, feel free to use copyright-free stock imagery from sites such as Pixabay or Unsplash. If you use our website builder, we have access to thousands of stock images that you can use to make your site look stunning in just a click!

Ready to get started with your website builder? With Go Sitebuilder, we have ready to go templates that will allow you to easily add your images and information in minutes so that your new site is professional, beautiful and most importantly – hassle free! Try our 14-day free trial today and get your business online.

How can I protect my photos from being stolen by strangers?

If you have your own online business or blogging platform, photos are a great way to market your services and add some visual aesthetic into your site. It’s important to make these images individual to you: people are much more likely to remember your name or brand if they have a certain image relating to your website stuck in their mind. 

However, it is incredibly easy for strangers to steal photos that you upload. This type of thievery doesn’t involve a masked fiend with a bag ready to swipe up your images – anyone can do it from anywhere in the world, safely hidden behind a computer screen. 

Protecting your photos prevents other people from taking your photo credit: if you’ve invested time or money into the perfect image for your website, then you don’t want anyone else taking advantage of all your hard work. In the online world, individuality is key, and protecting your photos ensures your pictures remain unique to you. 

Make it difficult to steal your photos 

Unfortunately, it is incredibly easy to steal photos: Stolen image finder Copytrack has reported that over 2.5 billion online images are taken illegally every day. However, if you make life more difficult for a stranger trying to steal your photos, you could deter them and prompt them to look for another image somewhere else. 

One of the ways that you can do this is by disabling the ‘right-click’ option when building your website. Although the image can still be screenshotted, this reduces the overall resolution of the image, leaving the photo thief with a low quality photo. This means it is a lot harder for people to recycle your images for their own commercial use: no one is going to want to buy a product with a low quality image on it. 

Add a copyright notice 

Considering you legally own any image that you’ve created, it isn’t mandatory for you to give a copyright notice to protect your images. Nevertheless, posting a copyright notice might act as a deterrent, especially if the person stealing the photo doesn’t realise they are actually doing anything wrong. Reminding people that you are the owner of the image might just be the thing that prompts someone to reconsider screenshotting your image for their own use. 

Adding a copyright notice is pretty easy: WordPress have suggested posting the following into the sidebar so that it is visible at all times.

“© [Full Name] and [Blog Name], [Current Year or Year Range]. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to [Your Name] and [Your Blog Name] with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.”

The trick is to ensure that this warning is big enough to see, but also not so in your face that it might distract visitors to your site, putting them off viewing what content you have to offer. 

Watermark your images 

Watermarking – which is where you print your details onto the image – is probably the safest bet when it comes to protecting your photos. Depending on where you position the watermark, you can keep your image protected even from crafty editors. Be aware that if you decide to insert your name in the bottom of the picture then it could be easily cropped out. 

However, if you put a semi-transparent watermark all over your image then your photo is less likely to be stolen by a stranger: even if the pic is pinched, you still receive the credit that you deserve. And, whilst it might detract from the beauty of the original image, you are giving people the information that they need to discover its original form.

If you opt to use stock images then you don’t have to worry about copyrighting your photos: these ready to go aesthetic pictures are great to use if you don’t have the time to source your own photos, but want to make your site as visually appealing as possible. As they are created by someone else who then allows third parties to use them, you aren’t the owner of the image, and therefore don’t have to worry about someone else stealing your images.

Where to upload your photos 

If you want to upload your own photos then it is important to have a smooth-running, easy to use website to post them onto. Go Sitebuilder is one of the best site builders in the UK, delivering ready to go websites at your fingertips. If you find yourself stretched for time, we offer a huge range of free stock images, allowing you to create the perfect website for you in a few clicks.

Our 14-day free trial means you can discover just how easy it is to build your dream site, completely free of charge!