Lately, something very disturbing has been happening in the blogging world.
I love you. You've dedicated your time to becoming the most awesome curators of this crazy world we call the internet. You've defined and refined your own personal vision by selecting the best images to covey your carefully crafted boards of inspiration alongside your witty words of wisdom. Seriously, I dig what you've got going on and I think what you're doing is fabulous. Period.
I would love to continue supporting you by giving you awesome content for "free."
All of that beautiful work my clients invest into their weddings, or that I personally invest into a special creative shoot just for the benefit of you and your readers, all of that has value which you get to benefit from in ad dollars and clicks and hits to your blog. Hopefully, I get to benefit by getting at least one more awesome client out of it.
You see, in order to continue providing that beautiful content and in order to keep getting clients who are awesome enough to design those super creative real weddings, I really need my name to be ON my work. As awesome as it is to have a link to my site under an image I provide you, it's equally NOT awesome when someone takes that inspiring image of my couple from your blog and then uploads it to another website, inspiration board, or commercial site where it provides zero credit to the creator, zero credit to the couple, and doesn't give you any credit for featuring it.
It's totally not your fault... or is it?There's a good reason why I watermark images on MY own blog and on my facebook page- it's because I KNOW people will take those images and put them elsewhere online, but that watermark helps me track where that image goes. That's what makes blogs so awesome! I'm totally willing to put my work out there for free because I know that if someone ends up finding my image in some random place online and loves it, they'll still know how to find the creator because my name is ON the image. That someone could be a cool client who hires me to create more beautiful images, or maybe a magazine editor that wants to feature one of my couple's weddings.
That watermark also provides my clients with an extra layer of security, so that with image matching search software, we can track usage of their image as it travels the internet to make sure it isn't being used for unapproved sites like pharmaceutical ads or commercial companies whose web designer is inexperienced or uneducated enough to think that all images Google can find are model-released or royalty free. These things generally happen to images that don't have a watermark to begin with, or in cases where clients have uploaded images to Facebook or other social media sites, but cropped out the watermark from visibility.
How will they ever find the content creator once the image leaves your blog if a name isn't on the image itself?
How are you protecting and supporting the work of photographers who are providing you with the yummy FREE content you need to keep your readers coming back for more which ultimately keeps your bank account full of ad revenue? Seems like the least you could do is provide a link AND let us put branding or some kind of watermark on the content we're giving you for FREE. I've shared three different styles of watermarking on this blog- create a style that works for your blog content and style and provide the info in your blog submission details so photographers can do the work in advance for you! We're happy to do the work when it helps protect our work and our clients.
I know it won't prevent people from cropping out the logo or watermark if they really want to- but at least you've done your part. At least YOU have been the responsible one who is committed to keeping your favorite photographers connected to their own work. Even if you created a small border around the image that blends into the background of your blog with a simple website or copyright text in the border with matching font from your blog, you'd be able to provide creator credit ON the image without disrupting the overall flow or look of your carefully designed blog or inspiration board.
To the wedding bloggers who HAVE incorporated these practices all along,
I thank you for being smart, savvy, and for doing your part to help support your content creators.I'm encouraging photographers and wedding vendors to invest their advertising budget with you because you really do care about the success of your content providers and advertisers. I'm encouraging brides to visit YOUR blog because I know that they will be able "borrow" the images from your blog guilt-free for their inspiration boards because you've already let the creator provide creator credit on the images at their own discretion.
To the following wedding blogs, thank you for continuing to be awesome:
So You're Engayged
Since writing this blog post, these bloggers have either declared that they allow watermarking or have committed to allowing watermarks starting now:
Rock n Roll Bride
Polka Dot Bride
Brides Up North
If you know of any other blogs who support their content creators by providing credit ON the images themselves - please let me know so that I can thank them with a link in this post! To the bloggers who insist on NOT allowing any creator credit ON images, perhaps you could at the very least disable right-clicking and dragging images off the blog, or put all of your images in a flash gallery to help protect your content creator's rights and usage of their work. We work hard to create that content you're earning money from and our clients who paid us to create it have a stake in where it ends up online- it's the least you could do.
Hugs & hot cocoa with marshmallows,