Folksy Ltd

To watermark or not to watermark?

That is the question!

I’ve had a problem at least half a dozen different times now, where people running workshops have used photos of my work on their websites. FB pages and even printed literature to promote their own workshops - eg: Make your own decorated heart or Christmas decorations workshop etc.

When I’ve contacted them about it, at least one excuse was that their promoter thought that my work was a “stock” photo.

The logical answer is to watermark everything (obviously there are a lot of my photos already out there without watermarks) but do you think it prevents you getting promoted on selling platforms front pages if you have a watermark?

I would love to know your thoughts/ experiences please.

I’ve heard that magazines/ bloggers etc prefer to not have water marks on images (but if they were really interested then they could always contact you for a water mark free version or may want to take their own images). I’ve also heard that it is pretty easy to remove watermarks so they might not put off the die hards (those who want to fake your work so an extra step makes no difference) but might stop the casual usage (those who think it would look good on their poster advertising their course). However since you have had issues I would suggest you try watermarking in a subtle way, ie not across the middle of the image which I think will put alot of buyers off but something like the way little black heart does it (eg (little black heart does crop up as a folksy favourite on occasion so it hasn’t put admin off using her images).
Just my thoughts others may think differently.

1 Like

Thanks so much for your reply Sasha :slight_smile:
Yes, I have tried watermarking a few years ago but it was right across the middle and not very subtle - lol!
I really like how little black heart has done it - I think I’ll try something small and out of the way like that.

The basic answer is, if they didn’t buy it from a stock site, then an image isn’t a stock image - and if it was a stock image they’d definitely pay for it.

Many people think the internet is a supply of free images - it’s not. They are breaking the law - stealing, because that is what they are doing, any image is a breach of the 1988 Copyright, Designs and Patents Act, which is a criminal, not a civil offence. As with any law in the UK, ignorance is no excuse for breaking it.

My husband is a commercial photographer and I run the business and - like many photographers - we have an ongoing problem with breach of copyright. Initially I policed it, but now it’s got so bad and I found it so frustrating and upsetting (remember, these images are our living and so put food on our table!) that we now use an agency to pursue it for us. The last one they advised us they were chasing has been sent a bill for £800 !

If anyone finds their copyright being breached the first thing they should do is send a cease and desist letter asserting their copyright (which in law is yours the minute you click the shutter), stating exactly why it belongs to you with dates when you took the photo and any proof of where it is used. Then demand instant removal of the image. If you are feeling particularly aggrieved or brave you can accompany this with an invoice for the use of the image they’ve already had - don’t go mad, I’d say £25- £50 would be reasonable. In my opinion it’s important to put some sort of figure on it to make them realise there’s an actual cost to the photo - it might make them think twice about stealing someone else’s. Just be prepared to not get paid :smirk:

If you want me to send a template, or if anyone thinks it’d be useful for me to publish it someone on the forums, let me know.

Oh - and I agree with Sasha @SashaGarrett - watermaking isn’t particularly attractive and can be removed, but subtle watermarking can be a gentle reminder to the casual abuser.


Thank You so much for your reply. That’s very useful information to know.

I did contact each of these people directly (By phone. I find the out of the blue, they may be expecting a booking approach prompts them to actually answer) - and they all agreed to take the images down. Most people have been apologetic and maybe a bit naive but I did have one rather unpleasant lady that didn’t seem to know what the problem was! I did have to send her a Cease and Desist message and the images were taken down.

What irks me the most is the misrepresentation of my work. If I was to hold a workshop - I would make my own examples of work up for promotion. It shows a massive sense of apathy and lack of preparation if they haven’t even got any samples made to promote their own workshops!


One thing I have seen done as an alternative to water marking (but can’t remember where to give you a link) is people using their branded packaging as a prop in the photo, this has two effects as it lets the customer know how their purchase will be wrapped and it is difficult to edit the branding out.


I use a very subtle watermark for my photos. If a link is broken, others can find out what shop it came from. And others can’t say ‘I thought it was free to use’ type of thing.


Thank You for all the replies :slight_smile: I’ve decided to go for a subtle watermark/ logo. I like the idea of background packaging too.

1 Like

The reputational damage is another reason we make a stand too. Good for you for challenging them - hope they were suitably and rightfully embarrassed :smiley::+1:

They weren’t as embarrassed as I would have been if I had been caught out like that! Thank goodness for eagle eyed fans and other potters giving me the tip off!

I’ve made a little watermark - this is my first listing with it:


I used to watermark mine across the middle of the work, but have recently splashed out on a classy signature logo, especially useful for my photographic work. I think It adds class and I use it more subtly now. You can see Photologo FB page here.

I have had issues with people copying my photographs including ‘friends’! I know some people do not like logos splashed across the work. But I think it does send a message to people that copyright is with me. It may not stop everyone though.

I also have a statement about my ownership of the image and that it may not be copied or used in any way in the Description of the item.

1 Like