WA watermarkI hold a deep appreciation for people who release their works under a Creative Commons 1 license. Despite the images of wealth and excess created by mega-churches and televangelists, working in religious circles is not a path to material plenty. I pastor a small church, and work for a denominational region made up of small churches, and so financing creative works has to be… creative. I can’t afford to drop credits for stock footage or photos any time I work on something, so folks who share images freely make my communications work possible. To that end I’ve also tended, with rare exceptions, to upload my own photos under a Creative Commons license. Since I’m benefitting from the license, I feel an ethical obligation to provide value back to others.

This doesn’t mean I don’t like getting credit for things I make or photos I share. On some level, even if being paid isn’t the primary goal, I think most creative-types want to know their work is being appreciated. And, unfortunately, we also want to know it’s not being stolen for uses we haven’t authorized. My photos, for example, are released under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial license. This means if someone uses something I share, it needs to be attributed to me. And if they want to use it in a commercial setting they need to ask me for permission 2.

I recognize the percentage chance of someone using one of my photos is pretty much zero. But given the “Wild West” nature of the Internet 3, it’s nice to have a way to check if a photo is actually mine. And one way to do this is a watermark.

A watermark is a custom image placed on a creative work, which functions like a signature. It brands that work as belonging to the creator, and serves as a reminder, “You didn’t make this, don’t take credit for it.” I’ve pondered creating a watermark for myself for years, but never found the time to set one up. Until now, that is.

This past week I opened up Affinity Designer and created the image which is displayed above. The “W” is Bodoni 72 Old Style, which I really like 4. As the first letter in my surname is “A,” I was drawn to the inverted “V” created by the middle strokes in the “W” glyph. My initial thought was to align an “A” from the same font to match that space. Unfortunately, the differences in line width between the “W” and “A” glyphs made it look jumbled. Instead, I isolated portions of the “W” glyph, inverted them, and then aligned them to continue the two middle strokes of the “W” below the glyph. Finally, I drew a rectangle as the cross bar for the “A,” matching it to the width of the skinnier strokes. I like how this looks, and when taken as a whole the two middle strokes from an elongated “X.” As I’m GenX, I enjoy that nod 5.

I don’t know how often I’ll end up using this, but I can set it as a default part of the export process in On1 Photo Raw 6. It is, however, nice to have.

  1. Or similar. 
  2. Which I would have few problems giving, should I ever be asked. And, of course, if I upload photos to sites where there are no limitations on commercial use I’m fine with that as well. 
  3. You have no idea how many times people share photos with me to use in some official capacity, insisting they are allowed to use it. When I ask how they found it they say, “Google Image Search.” And, no, they didn’t have the free image search option on. 
  4. If you look close, the serifs aren’t flat, so it gives an impression it was pressed manually. I like that. 
  5. Yo, Boomers and Millennials. We exist
  6. Most photo apps can do this, it’s a very common thing to do for commercial photographers.