My website and Facebook pages are coming up on the one-year anniversary mark - something in which I take a lot of pride. In previous posts, I have mentioned my sources of photographic inspiration and those that have helped me by simply being willing models. I want to take a moment to personally thank a few other individuals that have been instrumental in helping me get where I am today. And with all the negativity in the world generally, I believe we far too often pass on chances to just say ‘thank you’. I am far from where I want to be with my passion, but I can’t honestly say I would be where I am today without the help and encouragement of those around me.
Mom! It all starts with her. A role model in so many ways, she has always encouraged my endeavors. Not only did she get me my first DSLR camera, but my first printed and framed image hangs proudly on her wall. She follows my work religiously and gives me positive feedback every step of the way. She has let me use her house and garage for some of my most outlandish shoots without hesitation. By far my biggest fan and strongest supporter. I simply can’t say enough about her. Thank you Mom!
My wife! She puts up with my late night editing, photo shoots on the weekends, corners of the house full of photography equipment, and the occasional pestering to be a model for some of my ideas. She helps me come up with ideas for composition, props, poses, and helps me convert my images into calendars and wall prints. She is also incredibly handy in editing when I’m trying to match certain colors as I am sadly …..colorblind. When I’m out late at night under the summer sky in the middle of no-where doing some astrophotography, she’ll send me texts telling me to enjoy myself. Thank you Skittle!
Christopher Decker! You would think simply being an amazing trial attorney that I have had the pleasure to work under, watch, and learn from, would be enough. But he’s far more than that to me. He has encouraged my creative expressions from day one. He has offered his house, swimming pool, himself, and even his gorgeous family for use in my creations. We even joined forces in the creation of Two Grasshoppers; a Facebook page that celebrates inspirational images and quotes. Chris sees my passion for my hobby and encourages me to follow it doggedly. Something I greatly appreciate. Aside from being an excellent attorney, a good friend, and a constant source of encouragement, Chris is the type of person I think we all want to be. Intelligent, kind, passionate, caring, strong, and always there for you, Chris walks the walk and leads by example. Thank you Chris! For everything!
Paul Origlio! There would be no Steele Style Shots website or Facebook page without words of encouragement from Paul. “You are more than just another guy with a camera”, sums up Paul’s words of wisdom to me. Over breakfast in a quaint restaurant a little over a year ago, Paul encouraged me to at least try and make something of my photography. He quite plainly made it obvious I would probably regret not trying to do more with my passion. Before this breakfast with a good friend and another excellent attorney, I had no intention of creating a website or Facebook page for my work. I would post images on my personal Facebook page and that was about the extent of sharing my work. Paul made me feel I might be short-changing myself if I didn’t at least try. If I remember correctly, we had breakfast midweek and I pondered his advice the rest of the week. By the end of that weekend, I had my sites up and running with more determination and enthusiasm for my passion than ever before. Thank you Paul! We are due for another breakfast.
Chris Terry! I can’t even recall how many years we have been friends. Frankly, I can’t remember any years that we haven’t been friends. Regardless, Chris has become my partner in crime when it comes to photography (actually when it comes to just about anything). For several years we kind of did our own things when it came to photography but lately we have been collaborating on ideas and photoshoots. The joy of any hobby is that much greater when shared with a like-minded individual. It is also fun to have someone to talk cameras and equipment with as well. Chris has recently started his own Facebook and website pages for his photography and I encourage you to check it out. Thank you Chris! And for more than just being a photography buddy – despite you being a Bronco fan!
I know, I know. I’m making it sound like I’ve reached the pinnacle of my hobby and I am making an acceptance speech for some grandiose award. As mentioned earlier, I’m far from where I want to be with photography, but why wait to thank those that helped (and are helping) you along the way? And this is by no means an exhaustive list. Thanks goes out to everyone that has helped or encouraged me in some way, from assisting with shoots, to being a model, or simply sending me ideas through social media Frankly, too many to name. I’m excited to see what the next year holds for Steele Style Shots and just as excited to meet new individuals that will help shape my passion even further!
I have had this topic on my mind for some time now and a few recent events have pushed me to finally address this issue on my site. First of all, what do I mean by a watermark? There are several different ways to watermark a photo but I am specifically talking about a photographer placing his/her name, or business name, on a photograph to identify themselves. Some will put their logo or watermark in the lower left or right hand corner where others may more artfully incorporate it in the image itself. This is the type of watermarking I’m addressing in this article.
Why watermark your work? Obvious reasons include free advertising, copyrighting the work in an attempt to protect it from theft, or to create a recognizable brand. Reasons to not watermark your work include it ruining the image, being too much of a distraction, the client may not want your watermark on the final image, and some artists consider it arrogant and feel the image should be able to stand on its own. Such individuals feel that if someone wishes to discover the artist or photographer, they can easily do so in today’s information age. Watermarking tends to be one of those very personal decisions that can spark a lot of debate.
I started out watermarking my images simply because I could, and for literally no other reason. As I started to see some of my images on other pages and forums, I continued to watermark to prevent theft of my images. At least at that point, I had what I thought was a good reason to watermark. I figured people would be less likely to download and repost my images with my watermark on them. But does watermarking really prevent people from using your images and ideas? Short answer, no.
My wife works at the Children’s Diabetes Foundation (CDF) in Denver. One of the staff members at CDF creates images to spread the word about diabetes and to educate the general public. The images are succinct, witty, educational, and entertaining. However, CDF has discovered that other organizations are downloading the images and are removing CDF’s logo. In extreme examples, they are not only removing CDF’s logos, but replacing it with their own logos. The following images are current examples.
Removing a watermark is one thing. Removing a watermark and replacing it with your own, in my humble opinion, is copyright infringement and theft. Plain and simple. Watermarking does not prevent others from taking your work and passing it off as their own. I can easily remove watermarks on my own work, which I have done when I consider selling a piece. Anyone proficient in image editing programs can easily do the same. So then why watermark at all? Perhaps to deter those not so proficient at image editing programs? Maybe to make it a little harder for people to steal your work? I think the only real reason to watermark your work is to create a brand or as a free means of advertisement. Even then, this branding, or free advertising, may just be all in the artist's mind. I have yet to gain a client from my watermark alone. The more typical means of getting new clients is by word of mouth and through friends of friends.
In researching this issue, I went back to images from some of my favorite photographers specifically looking for watermarks. Surprisingly enough, most of them did not use watermarks. In my very small, non-scientific research, only about 25% of the images had a watermark. Those that did, usually did it in a way that was not intrusive to the image itself. A small handful did have watermarks that I felt distracted from the image. Even when editing my own images, placing my watermark on some of them just doesn’t seem to fit – a practice I am now questioning. If I'm fooling myself in thinking it prevents theft and I honestly can't say my watermark has increased my clientele, then why do I continue to do it? Simply watermarking something because I can doesn't make sense either.
People create amazing works of art all the time. It’s an ego boost when someone likes your work so much that they want to share it, even without your permission. When I place any image on my site, I make an effort to reach out to the artist for approval. At the very least, I CREDIT the artist in a caption on the image AND I will attempt to create a link on the image back to the artist’s site. I don’t expect theft of images or other works of art to stop. In fact, I expect it to increase with new innovations in technology with respect to social media. Aside from the issue of attempting to prevent theft, I’m not sure watermarking is necessary. Obviously people have their own opinion and will do what they think works best for them, which I encourage, but you may start to see fewer and fewer watermarks on my own work. To each their own.
Keep the interesting parts of life in focus.