- I have an advantage of knowing Michael personally. He's working hard to build his skill set and is a talented artist and he meant his post to be sarcastic. He meant to criticize people who put watermarks on mediocre images with all the subtlety of Mike Tyson's facial tattoo. He wanted people to think about spending more time raising the bar on the quality of their work, rather than worrying first about protecting it.
- I agree with just about every comment so many of you have made, as well as what Michael was trying to say from the beginning. Most important of all were comments made about watermarks being part of advertising/branding. Just a few weeks ago I ran a post about "Fundy", Andrew Funderburg founder of Fundy Software. I sent him the draft and he asked me to switch the images I was using to ones he sent me with his watermark. Why? Because it helps people to know him as an artist and not just an amazing software developer. His watermark is about building his brand and advertising.
- Corey Ann, from Photo Stealers, commented and I love what she said as well. In fact, Photo Stealers has provided some remarkable support to one of the most depressing challenges I've seen in our industry, photographers stealing other photographers work and in turn misrepresenting their skill set to their clients. I recently banned a photographer from Facebook Wedding Photographers whose galleries and even price list were filled with stock photo images - not one his own and not one with a photo credit to the original artist!
- I also got a few emails, not published, one of them from Ron McKinney, who I called and wanted to talk to personally about his comments on the post. Why? Because writing to somebody, as I am now to all of you, leaves out a complete dimension in communication - emotion. I agreed with just about everything Ron wrote and asked him for permission to share some of it here:
"...I am incredulous that you published that post by Michael Novo about the concept of publishing unwatermarked photos that are too crappy to be stolen...Maybe others agree that we should all produce crappy photographs, get paid up front, and then not worry about them getting stolen?
I don't watermark my pictures for fear of them getting stolen. I watermark them for marketing purposes. I want my photos shared and shared and shared, and I want people to see my watermark. It's a completely unfair comparison to bring in Jerry Ghionis, as Jerry does not really have the need to market the way that we do. His name is known. His work is known. His style is known. We exist pretty anonymously among the prospective clients scouring over The Knot, Wedding Wire, doing google searches, or visiting bridal shows to determine whom to hire as their wedding photographer. We need to be known. Our work needs to be seen. And a watermark takes out pictures from being shot by "Anonymous" to being shot by "Ron McKinney Studios." And personally, I need that."
Here's the challenge we all share. The Internet has changed the way we do business today. It's changed the way we communicate and share images. Each of us has the reach today that just a few years ago only magazines and publications had. That means you've got to do everything you can to present only your best work, advertise, promote and build your brand, but a brand which as Peter Adams wrote is so much more than just your style:
It is incredibly naive to think that a brand is just a "style". Branding is the whole kit and caboodle.
" Brand is the "name, term, design, symbol, or any other feature that identifies one seller's product distinct from those of other sellers." (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Brand) My logo, my business name, my imagery all make up constituent parts of my brand.
The true challenge we share is artists stealing other artists work. I love what people like Corey Ann and Photo Stealers are doing, but the real responsibility rests with each of us. We've all got to watch each other's backs and that appears to be what's happening. Stolen images result in so much more than that knot you get in your stomach being victimized, it's the impact it has on potential clients, when the photographer they've hired can't produce the results.
I've written and said this numerous times before...With the exception of modern medicine no one career field has given society more than the photographic industry. That carries a huge responsibility to deliver your very best work, exceed client expectations and set a standard for outstanding customer service.