In these days of social media networks and mobile photography, images are a major way of communicating with an audience. The ability to share images with family and friends is a major aspect of our digital lifestyle. However, for those who take their image making more seriously, putting images online has become a real concern. While there are tools for the desktop computers to embed metadata info like camera and photographer information in image file, it’s not so easy for phone cameras. Even though phone cameras do generate metadata of the camera’s info, this is not so for the photographer’s identification info. Though it is possible to create that data, many online sites strip the metadata from the image file anyway as they process images for upload to their servers. Here’s a list of how image services rate from the Embedded Metadata Initiative processing image metadata.
Well, all is not totally lost. You can put a watermark on your image. A watermark is text or image that is placed onto the image. It can be a copyright notice or a studio logo. It can be big or small, elegantly discreet or painfully obvious. A watermark protects your image in the same manner a padlock protects your locker or gate. It helps keep honest people honest, but it won’t fully deter a thief. Still, its better than nothing. Now there are apps for creating mobile watermarks that are easy to setup and use. For Android there’s Add Watermark and for iOS there’s Marksta. There’s a free version of Add Watermark which should work well for the casual user and both Marksta and Add Watermark Pro are $1.99.
To illustrate the process of watermarking your mobile photos, I’ll use the Add Watermark app. Once installed, you’re be taken to the Dashboard. In this view there is the image window and three sets of sliders that control opacity, watermark size, and orientation. At the top left is the icon for retrieving an image to watermark and to the top right corner is the Save icon. At the lower left is the setup icon and to the bottom right is the Alignment icon and the rotation icon. First tap the setup icon and dialog box presents you with three tabs at the top of the window, General, Text and Image.
In the General Tab you will make selections for several options. The main options being, Watermark Type, Target File Type, Target Folder, Final image Quality, Image Resize, and Color Space. You can also batch process images, but not with the free version. The next tab is Text. Here you choose what you want the text to say and other elements of styling including font type. The app has a great selection of fonts, but with the Pro version you can add custom fonts which is a pretty slick feature. Finally, there’s the Image Tab. Here you can add a logo or some other image. For example you can create the image in Photoshop and save this file as a .png if you want to have transparency. Once this is setup the app will remember your choices for future use, and they are all editable.
Now that your watermark is setup, open an image and test it out. In the Dashboard View, use the sliders to change opacity, size, and orientation. When you’re done, save the image. The app offers the usual options for where to save the image and what to name it. It also offers the option of sharing it to your social networks after the save. What I thought was a nice touch is that let’s say you open the same image again and do something different with it, the app will ask you if you want to overwrite it or give it a new name. Other apps just give it a new name and you end up with a lot of versions of the same image in your storage.
That’s pretty much it, but I’d like to offer a brief note about basic watermark etiquette and protocol. First, if you are presenting your images so photo editors and art buyer can view them, be very discrete with your watermark. Most art buyer do not like watermarked images so don’t turn them off with huge opaque watermarks. Next when you place your watermark do not put it in a even tone area, like an all black area. This makes it easy to Photoshop out. Place it in an area of important texture to make it more difficult to use the Stamp Clone tool. Finally don’t place it near the edge of the image where it can be easily cropped out.
Remember, a watermark will not stop someone from stealing your photo. It is a way to make sure your identity travels with your images. If you do have concerns, first try a Reverse Image Search, or use a service like TinEye to see where your images are turning up. But in the end, the best thing to do is to register your images with the Library of Congress Copyright office and join the Plus Coalition. You never know when that great picture of Uncle James and Aunt Julia at the family reunion picnic could be used in a major campaign by a Fortune 100 company for big bucks!