Should I Watermark?

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asked me this same question over and over again in my workshops and my coaching sessions and even in emails. Photographers AND brides want to know, do I give my clients high res files of their images. They also want to know why I don’t place a watermark ON my images on facebook or on the blog. Well, this can be answered in so many ways. First, let me explain something about the industry. It used to be that when you hired a photographer, you paid a sitting fee and then you paid a small fortune in prints. Photography was a product based business and handing over digital files was unheard of.

Then, the digital revolution, as I like to call it, took place.  Facebook became a main form of online communication not only for college students… but for EVERYONE.  Today, Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest are household names. Everyone is using them…… and so naturally, my business should use them as well.  I do the majority of my marketing on social media and it’s working. However, I have had to make some decisions about HOW I was going to share my images. Am I going to plaster a massive logo over ALL of my files that go up online just to make sure that no one steals them?! No way.  What better way to kill your sharing capabilities?! I want my SHARING to yield new fans and more bookings.  I want my clients to market FOR me…. and they do that when I make sharing EASY. I use PASS for my file sharing and it’s AMAZING. I’ve already posted about why I love it once before but I had to mention it again because the NEW PASS that will be released soon is pimped out with SHARING TOOLS!! Seriously! I don’t know why anyone wouldn’t just TRY it out. See if you like it and I guarantee it will change your workflow for the BETTER!  Just look at this sneak peek of the amazingness that is coming our way!!

Just the sleek look of the new interface makes me want to upload new events!!! Ps. See that bar to the side? Everything is SUPER Shareable! :)

Anyway, by sharing my digital files, I’m enabling my clients to promote me. By using PASS, I’m sharing my digital files and getting the BEST return possible from my shared images.  Here is what I have realized…. my images have been stolen before…. yes, it’s true and it’s sad. However, they were stolen WITH and WITHOUT watermarks.  Anyone with decent Photoshop knowledge can clone out a logo….. so is it REALLY worth it? I’m not saying that we shouldn’t care about the protection of our work…. but I AM saying that I see a lot of photographers being crippled because they won’t share their files freely. If your pricing model is product based then I understand why this wouldn’t work for you. For those of you that are service based…. you want to BOOK more… which means you need to MARKET more.  The BEST way to do this is to have your clients market FOR you. I accomplish this by allowing my clients to easily access to their digital files and giving them the permission share as much as they want.  So for me, Watermarking was a huge hinderance. Who wants a facebook cover image with a LOGO all over it? I have found that my clients USE their images on social media MORE when they are logo free… and that gives me more business in the long run.

Some photographers REQUIRE their clients to keep the watermark on their profile and cover images and in my personal opinion, I think that is hindering them, rather than helping them grow. If Jasmine had told us after our wedding, “You can only post images with my logo on them”, I don’t think I would have appreciated that. The less rules, the better.  Sure, some clients will use an image and never give credit…. but most of the time, my clients always give me credit in one way or another because they appreciate their images and their freedom to share….. and when they SHARE… they are basically acting as mini “Katelyn James” billboards. :)

So to condense, here is why I’m PRO sharing and ANTI Watermarks:

1. Watermarks exist to protect images from being stolen, but with a little PS knowledge, anyone can remove a watermark…. so that scratches that idea.

2. Watermarks are used on Facebook to show future clients who took these lovely images. I understand this… but my logo is not ON my images. I never want my clients to NOT use an image on their cover or profile because of my logo.

3. I don’t use watermarks on my blog anymore because they were a HUGE distraction from my images. I want my blog to resemble more of a “Wedding Blog” and you hardly ever see massive watermarks displayed on national wedding blog posts.

4. Not only were my watermarks a distraction on the blog, but because I used them on a white border around my images, they were increasing the file size of my images and slowing down my blog.

5. Pinterest…. I want my images to be more “Pinable” and I have noticed MORE pinning without the frame and logo. (Ps. Do you like “Pinning”? If so, you’ll love the new PASS… just saying:)

Here are some examples of how my clients are marketing for me:



To my brides and grooms that market FOR me… thank you for making my life easier!!!  Love you ALL!!!! And thank you Rebekah Hoyt for being the poster child for this post! :)

Why I don't watermark my images

Thanks for reading!

— Katelyn

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