Why watermark?

Watermarking online photos

Why include your John Henry?

What follows is MY OPINION only. This is a discourse on why I choose to mark my photos.

  1. I have been the recipient of photo thievery on Facebook.
  2. I have been the recipient of photo thievery on Ancestry.
  3. I claim the status of amateur photographer; I do not try to be “professional.”
  4. The bulk of the photos I post from my late father’s collection are in his honor.

Several years ago, I posted a photo on Facebook of a sunrise over Mt. Hood, shot outside my back door. Later that day I noticed a Facebook “friend” posted the same picture, my photo, on her page, failing to give photo credit. On her page, directly beneath my photo, I wrote: “Hey, Carol, thanks for posting my photo!” This was her response: “Oh, I didn’t know where it came from.”

My father was a writer, photographer, and journalist, someone who mentored Carol when she was in high school. Yeah, we grew up together, and Carol went on to become a writer with guidance from my father. A cardinal rule in this field: one does not steal work from other people. Bottom line: Carol knew better.

The day I joined Ancestry, I posted several photos of our ancestors. I was feeling pretty good about sharing for about three or four hours. That’s all the time it took before many of my photos had been copied and posted on others’ trees.

Let me be very clear here: I do not mind sharing. That isn’t my issue. Call me old fashioned, but there is a code of conduct, or ethical protocol, I feel should be followed in the case of choosing to copy others’ work. I find it unprofessional and uncaring when common courtesy protocols are not followed. In one case only was I given photo credit. One.

Have I copied photos off of Ancestry? Of course. Do I also write down the name of the person who shared? EVERY. SINGLE. TIME. It takes seconds to credit the owner.

I mark my photos because they belonged to a family member, not because I am creating a professional profile as with employment purposes. I can claim amateur status only, and do not share photos because I want them to shine, or glow, or add to a portfolio of any kind. Regardless of photographer status, however, using others’ work without giving credit is never OK.

I add a “mark” to my photos in honor of my late father. It is from his collection that I draw from and share online. Dad was the last male in his line, and I wanted to honor him in a way that helps his name live on. It is his surname with which I mark and share.

Removing watermarks

Can watermarks be removed?

I’ve read that watermarks can be removed with a few simple clicks. Does this stop me from adding my marks? No.

Adding watermarks

How does one add a watermark?

There are several programs and apps that show how to add a watermark. I chose the program Irfanview. As a sort-of-savvy Internet person–OK, I spent hours before I asked my son for help–I began using this program about a year ago. Once set up, I can mark any photo with my chosen mark and retain a copy of the original photo. This was key. With two files, one marked Original and the other Watermarked, I can add to or retrieve from both files as needed. This may not provide total security as others can remove my efforts; yet, I feel better posting with dad’s name.

This is up to you and more about why you feel the way you do, why you might be attached to your photos. For me, it’s my dad.

Some say watermarks ruin photos. Others feel it’s selfish. All points are valid. I mark for the reasons above. You will have to do what you feel is best.

The hot debate continues

Here are opposing opinions on the subject:

This photographer believes one should watermark:


This person believes one should not watermark:


❤ Were she alive today, Hazel would be 116. Today was her birthday. ❤

  1. I enjoyed your balanced presentation of the watermark debate. Much food for thought!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks, Liz. I know this can be a touchy subject, but I felt strongly about honoring my deceased father who was our family photographer and giving him due credit. He was an only child, and having no sons, I feel it’s up to me. Thanks for your comment.


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