• Mandy BlakeMandy Blake

    Why Do Photographers Add a Watermark?

    April 24, 2014 | Posted by Mandy Blake

    You have just received the email from your family photographer that your image gallery is ready to view! So you hit the link, open up the gallery, excited to see all of the beautiful pictures of your children and family. But then you see a watermark right through the middle of each picture… CRAP.

    “Why would they put it over our faces?” you wonder aloud. “How am I supposed to share this on Facebook?” you think. Well I am here to answer those questions, and maybe a few more!

    Photographers use a watermark or logo on their images for a variety of reasons. Primarily, it is added to identify the image as their own for copyright purposes, to protect against image theft. In this internet generation, with social media permeating almost every corner of the world, protecting original work is harder and more important than ever.

    Believe it or not, many photographers have their images stolen every day. By large corporations looking to save a dollar or two on the photography budget, by meme-makers to accompany hilarious quotes and even by other photographers who are trying to add some shine to their less-shiny portfolios.

    “But I paid for these photos, I am not trying steal them!” you protest. Of course not! You are going to order beautiful prints for your home and maybe some digital images to archive. But if that watermark wasn’t there, maybe you would want to save your favorite image and use it as your cover photo or profile picture…

    Now photographers LOVE when you are proud and happy to share the images they captured of your family. Until your one random Facebook friend – you know, that one that you added when you became new besties at the yoga retreat after a few glasses of organic red wine (we all have one, it’s okay) – well she thinks that that picture of your kid is SUPER cute and saves it to her desktop. And then she shows her photographer friend (we all have one of those too), who thinks it is SPECTACULAR, so much so, in fact, that she puts it in her portfolio. And voila, image stolen!

    But if your photographer had given you a watermarked image, with their logo or information clearly visible, this whole scenario would be a lot less likely. Your family or children won’t be shared somewhere in cyberspace without your knowledge or the knowledge of your photographer. WIN-WIN!

    “Well, does it have to be over our faces?” Well, yes and no. Often when your photographer has added a watermark that is large or obstructive, it is because you will be ordering images or image files at a later date and the ones in the gallery are simply for review and selection. We want you to have the very best products that we offer, gorgeous prints and stunning digital files to print for your home. And that web-sized, low resolution file in the gallery is not exactly the BEST. Many times I have seen the situation where a well-meaning, over-enthusiastic parent or grandparent takes a screen shot of their favorite gallery photo and then prints it out proudly, only to realize that it suddenly looks fuzzy or the colors are weird. And that is definitely not the type of product your photographer wants you to leave with! So that is why the watermark can sometimes be found running over-top of the smiles of your darling children and semi-
    cooperative hubby!

    Here are a couple of examples of what you may see in a gallery, showing the watermark through a large portion or the center of the image:

    If you want to be able to share your new, lovely images on the internet, be sure to ask your photographer if he/she could provide a watermarked, web-ready image for sharing. I am willing to be that most photographers will be very happy to accommodate this AWESOME request!

    Here are a couple of examples of what you may commonly see for the watermarking of web-sharing images:

    So the bottom line is this: Watermarks are there to protect both the photographer and YOU. Having a watermarked image on display on the web guarantees that everyone knows that the image is the copyrighted property of your photographer and also it helps to deter that over-sharing yoga “friend” won’t be hanging a photo of your child on her fridge!


    MEMBER ONLY ALERT - Mandy will be available in our Facebook Member Forum LIVE for one hour on Thursday evening, April 24th from 8-9pm EST to answer additional questions about this topic. See you in the Forum!

    Kristen the designerKristen the designer

    Helpful Tips & Advice from Competition Judge Mandy Johnson!

    February 12, 2014 | Posted by Kristen the designer

    Submitting Images for Image Competitions has always been a hard decision for me. I strive myself on offering both technically beautiful portraits, and also ones that my clients will be able to remember how that moment felt forever. So, how do you separate those emotions and choose images that would perform well technically?

    Start with selecting the images you know are technically your best. Pay attention to exposure, lighting, composition, rules of third and contrast. Those key factors must be in play first. It is a learning experience to step back and really critique your work from a technical standpoint.

    After you narrow them down to just a few, then really look at the impact of the image. The viewer should want to know the story behind the image, and impactful images will have them lingering longer and really allow the viewer to connect with that moment.

    Another element to think about is the relationship within the portrait. An image that tells a truly beautiful story is always captivating.

    My belief is when you have brought all of these elements into one well-crafted portrait, you have yourself a winning image.

    Kristen the designerKristen the designer

    Helpful Tips & Advice with Competition Judge Beverly Walden!

    February 11, 2014 | Posted by Kristen the designer

    We continue our series with our next competition judge, Beverly Walden!

    1. Coming from a Professional Photographers of America background and having judged by their standards, I would have to say my number one tip is their number one tip in a national judging and that is IMPACT! For me, a definition of IMPACT that I came up with years ago is this…

    IMPACT=Creative Composition and Unusual Approach

    Does the image have impact-does it touch my heart and soul and cause me to stop in my tracks? What is the emotion that it pulls out of me as I view it? I have seen so many images that are technically perfect but emotionally deficient. This is not to say you can slide by on the technical side with an emotional image, but the perfect image to me is one that has both the emotion and technical excellence.

    2. The second thing I would suggest is to make sure the images you enter are technically proficient. By this, I mean are they correctly exposed, cropped and posed? Does the crop cut off a hand or foot in the wrong place? Are the highlights blown out? Is there detail in the shadow or is it all just one “blob” of black? Is the pose weak or poorly done? Was the correct lens used? Are the colors correct in the print itself? Use print competition to improve these areas and get stronger.

    3. The third and final suggestion I would make is to select images that tell a story rather than a statically posed photograph. The images I especially love are the ones that allow me to make up my own story as I look at the image, letting my imagination freely flow.

    Kristen the designerKristen the designer

    Helpful Tips & Advice with Competition Judge Anne Almasy!

    February 11, 2014 | Posted by Kristen the designer

    Next up in our advice series is competition judge Anne Almasy!

    1. Select images that make you FEEL something. Then review those images, and make sure you’re not just feeling something because you remember what you felt like when you took the photo. Do you feel something because of the photo itself? Do you return to the image over and over, even as time passes and the shoot is no longer fresh? Don’t worry about what other people may or may not feel when they see the photograph. Follow your gut, and submit images that evoke strong emotion in you, the artist.

    2. You can’t save it with Photoshop. Don’t submit images that you had to retouch to death in order to make them presentable. Sometimes you have to let a nice photo go because the exposure was really dreadful, or the subject’s eyes were half-closed, or some stranger in a bright red jacket wandered through the background. Don’t just enter those photos into the contest and hope no one notices. Carefully select photos that are genuinely strong without excessive post-production. (Unless, of course, you’re a Photoshop genius whose work is based on masterful digital manipulation!)

    3. Judges know what it takes to make a good photo. We will look at your image and note everything from your connection to your subjects, to the technical skill involved, to the physical effort required, to the post-production quality. We can also usually tell if a photo was a mistake. Be certain you’re submitting images that you MADE with purpose and intention. Lazy photography is a huge turn-off.

    4. Enter even if you don’t think you can win. The first contest I ever won was a total shock to me, but it was an image I was truly proud of, so the win was incredibly exciting! When you make a practice of entering contests, you get better at it, and more comfortable with it. You realize that it’s okay if you don’t win — or even place! And you become more familiar with the process of critiquing your own work, looking for your strengths and weaknesses. Contest entry is an excellent way to hone your portfolio! Save a folder of the photographs you select for contest entry, and use those images in your ads, sample albums, and promotional pieces.

    Alice ParkAlice Park

    NAPCP Judge Stephanie Buckman’s Tips and Advice!

    August 22, 2013 | Posted by Alice Park

    NAPCP is currently hosting it’s bi-annual International Image Competition. Selecting images for submission is critical and can often times be an overwhelming process for our members. We’ve reached out to our distinct panel of judges for expert advice on what they look for specifically in an award winning image. Our final judge is the wonderful Stephanie Buckman of Stephanie Robin Photography!

    In submitting images for competition, I’m often overly critical of my own work and I’ll tell you why I think this is a good thing. The experience you carry with you from being present during the actual moment of documentation affects the way in which you view the image. Taking yourself out of the image is definitely the first step in objectively viewing your artwork and a lack of a critical eye may result in submission of images that mean more to you as the photographer than they will an outside viewer. For this reason, I rarely submit imagery of my own children for competition as I can’t easily remove my emotional attachment to the imagery resulting in less objectivity when viewing the image.

    I use the following as techniques in determining which images may fare the best:
    *ask neighbours, friends or artists of another genre for their impression of your imagery. Keep an open mind as to what they see
    *flip your image upside down or as a mirror reflection to help you to see distracting elements you may have bypassed
    *look at your image in relation to the rules of photography (rule of thirds, leading lines, balancing elements etc.). These rules are there for a reason
    *choose images that depict genuine emotion or a connection between your subjects. With children, unless your subjects are great little actors, moments that occur spontaneously will often resonate much better than those in which you have told the subject what to do
    *consider the category to which you are submitting. Ask yourself whether your image truly depicts or emotes something distinctive about the category
    *is the image or setup original in thought, expression or creativity. Don’t simply replicate past winning imagery. Strive to create new and distinctive work.

    Most of all, look for constructive criticisms from trusted and experienced mentors whether in the field of photography or beyond. A mentor can help you to see beyond yourself and provide you with direction and motivation to do and be better.

    I so look forward to seeing your creativity and technique shine in your submissions this competition!


    Thanks Stephanie! Members, be sure to submit your favorite images here by 11:59 EST tonight!

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