Is it a watermark or a signature?
It’s always an interesting question and currently the source of quite a few debates online at the moment. The history of a watermark is an interesting one. They have been known to exist since the 13thcentury, originally found in Italy.
They were first of all used on paper. Normally an area of paper that was thinner and so when held up to the light a symbol or an image could be seen. Sometimes used to identify the grade of paper but often used to prevent counterfeit. Indeed, our currency today is watermarked to prevent fraudulent manufacturing.
Is it a watermark or a signature: In the old days
Now though watermarks can be found everywhere, especially on images taken by photographers. What does that mean though and why do they put them on the images?
Well a while ago of all before the explosion of social media the only ways to look at your images of you and your horse from an event were the following. First of all, you would que up with your fellow competitors and huddle around the thumbnail size images. Then you would hand over some cash and your picture would either be printed there and then or posted out to you. The second option was to go onto the photographer’s website and view your images on a gallery. To prevent sneaky screen shooting these would have a large ‘watermark’ across them. Sometimes that tactic worked and sometimes people just didn’t care.
Is it a watermark or a signature: Social Media fodder
Fast-forward to this very modern and social media time though and it’s a different kettle of fish. So many people’s businesses are driven and powered by the mighty social media giant, Facebook, that images are so much more available. Great isn’t it! Unless you’re a photographer and you want to promote your work and still make a profit (not much to ask really?) On the flip side if you’re a competitor it’s great!
No more hanging around if you need to get home and an easy one shop place to see your pictures, that’s if you one of the lucky winners though. Many events discourage huge albums from being posted and prefer you to post a selection of images, normally those that have done well or had an epic fail (with everyone safe) Plus a photographer (or any artist) will always be happy if you share their posts or tag their friend. This, after all, increases reach and engagement. Two very important things in the social media world. We all crave likes.
Is it a watermark or a signature: Goodbye picture
Here’s the big issue though. Once a picture is on Facebook, Twitter, Insta or Pinterest then it’s on the internet. It’s out there for anyone and everyone to right click and save image. A real pet peeve of mine. Why they don’t just disable that function I don’t know…. Anyways we have digressed. Any self-respecting artist would always sign their work. A neat little squiggle in the corner that says ‘hey this is mine’ so why wouldn’t photographers do the same? Yes, we do the bold and obvious watermark that normally obscures the horse in some way in an attempt to stop people pinching our hard work but then we release digital files with nothing…….
10 minutes later you see the image on Facebook, fine right? Well yes but the world isn’t full of lovely people like ourselves and once it’s out there the image is fair game. I guess what I’m trying to say is unless you’ve purchased full and commercial rights to the image, which is highly unlikely as you don’t need to, there will now be a small signature on all digital my images.
After all I consider them works of art, myself an artist and therefore I will sign them. This will be different to my standard ‘please don’t pinch me’ watermark but never the less it will be there.
Hopefully everyone understands and thank you all so much for the support you show Frog and Field, it really means the world to me xx