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Error 3: Skipping Simple Steps That Can Safeguard Your Work

An unfortunate reality of the online environment: Many people truly believe that if it’s on the Internet, it’s free for the taking, and that belief seems to apply particularly to images. No matter how hard we work to educate people, we’ll probably never eradicate the problem. But we can take steps to minimize it, or at least get some promotional mileage out of it. One way to help protect your images is to add borders or watermarks (see Figure 1). When one of your images is stolen and used elsewhere, your name or logo goes with it, so people can track the image back to your website (see Figure 2).

Figure 1

Figure 1 The Watermark Editor in Adobe Photoshop Lightroom.

Figure 2

Figure 2 Image borders prepared using the LR/ Mogrify 2 plug-in for Adobe Photoshop Lightroom.

Of course, someone with experience can clone out the watermark or crop the image out of its border. Remember, the goal is not to develop a foolproof image-security system (I’m not convinced that one exists), but rather to maximize value from a situation that’s probably going to occur, like it or not.

The Internet is replete with differing opinions on watermarks—some of them quite strong. My general view is that you should do what’s right for you. My approach has typically been to include borders or watermarks on images that I share on services that encourage sharing—such as Facebook—where my image probably will end up in a forum, dissociated from my own identity. When I share images on my own website, I generally present them in the clear. That works for me, but you should make your call based on your own objectives and online distribution strategy.

Adding borders and watermarks is pretty straightforward in Adobe Photoshop Lightroom. You can add watermarks when you export images, and you can add borders by using the print module. If you want more flexibility in how your images look, consider the low-cost plug-in LR/ Mogrify 2 from Photographer’s Toolbox, which offers enhanced watermarking, border, and annotation capabilities. (An example of the border marking was shown earlier, in Figure 2.)

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