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To Watermark or Not to Watermark

I’ll admit… I’m torn. There are times when I just want to give away my work to someone. There are other times where I know that’s a kind and welcome gesture. There are other times where I know it is not a sensible thing to do for my business.

Even for friends and (not immediate) family, there are times where I want to hand out the images and there are times where I know I shouldn’t. In business, there seem to be the occasional opportunity to trade a photo for a product or service that someone else has to offer. But… I would like to develop an actual policy that has actual consistency to it. I do that in my “other” job, so why not this one? There are many legal cases regarding digital rights management. I know digital photos fall within that classification, so that should make this easy, right? Yeah… right.

For the standard visitor to our shopping cart, this is a no-brainer. Everything is watermarked. But what about an image taken of a friend at a picnic? Or images taken at church during worship? Is it necessary — or even appropriate — to watermark these images if posted on the church web site? I don’t presently do that, but I’ve had some folks tell me that I should. I’m torn. I want to do what is right for both the viewer and our brand.

We took some fun shots of a youth concert at our church several weeks ago. We published them to the church website without any watermark. ANY casual visitor can go see these images without any branding on them whatsoever. We love taking them and we don’t charge the church anything (we’re there anyway!) and people love looking at them. But… there is no association to us when a visitor views the images on the site. Hmm…

So, what say you? Do you think these should be watermarked? Or do you think these should not be watermarked? And why? Give me some honest input here.

I’m looking forward to hearing your thoughts.


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