Well, having locked all of my galleries that I shot for free last month, I’ve reconsidered (for now, anyway) and created a new watermark that I’m laying across the center of the pics in those galleries and have unlocked them, making them viewable again. I’ll be honest, I can’t make up my mind as to how to the right way to address this concern. I want to place some value on having them posted, but I don’t want to hide away the photos and prevent them from seeing the light of day (and, um, well, some of my best work happened while shooting for free; go figure).
So I decided to created a new watermark, specially designed to be placed directly over the center of each pic. Now, surveys of photo websites have shown that people really dislike watermarks being placed like this (but they don’t mind them along the edges, where I place my regular watermark); in fact, I tested out a different (albeit even more annoying logo) with a friend and he called it “obnoxious”…but hey, again, there’s got to be some kind of value to these photos. I guess the fine line is protecting my work while at the same time not driving away people.
Below is an example of the new watermark:
For now, this will be the watermark I place over all galleries and future shoots for which I don’t get paid up front. I kinda like it, but I’m not sure of the reaction it will get from people used to the more subtle lower right watermark I’ve been using for the past couple of years. The bottom line is that I’m trying to find a happy medium between displaying my work for everyone to enjoy while protecting it and encouraging print sales. (Some have suggested not shooting at all if I’m not getting paid, but there are times when I just feel like shooting and I enjoy doing it, so if I’m not booked with another band that night, why shouldn’t I?)