What Famous Photos Would Look Like if Their Photogs Used Ugly Watermarks

Watermarks are commonly used by photographers these days to protect their work from unauthorized use and distribution. However, they’re not very popular among photo viewers, since they do a lot to detract from the content of the photographs. Photographer Kip Praslowicz was thinking about this earlier this week, and writes,

[…] it seems like many amateur [photographers] spend more time putting elaborate watermarks on their images than they do making images worth stealing […] I don’t really recall ever seeing the photographs of famous art photographers with a gaudy watermark.

He then decided to see what famous photographs would look like if the photographers behind them had slapped obnoxious watermarks onto them.

The photograph above, which you probably recognize, is Afghan Girl by Steve McCurry.

Here are some more examples of what he came up with:

Not quite the same as the non-watermarked versions, eh?

Praslowicz tells us that he plans on adding more to the series once he gets his creative juices flowing again. You can see the series here.

Thanks for sending in the tip, Eric!

Image credits: Original photographs copyright their respective owners. Parody images by Kip Praslowicz and used with permission

  • newamericanclassic

    well, they’re famous photographers, so their works are already well-known and linked to them.

    thanks to social media, if you don’t leave some sort of subtle indication of who the artist was, it’s lost forever into anonymity should it ever get gain any popularity. which is fine up until a point–say, when someone uses it for commercial purposes because they found it on Pinterest.

  • Pierre Bisson

    People don’t just steal images for personal use Max – I’ve had whole magazine articles published with photographs lifted from my site so now I use a large watermark for everything over 900px wide. For smaller shots I use a small tag in one corner and keep the quality low enough that it looks good on the screen but won’t work in print. I even took a call once from a magazine asking for high res copies of my photos as the copies they had taken as screen grabs from my site weren’t printing very well!

  • Denis Wettmann

    “And that’s despite the fact that securing either of those two items is
    easy.. securing a photo is NOT.” It rather is easy. Do not upload to sites where you do not own the rights or did not clearly defined the ownership condition (Facebook, etc…) Do not upload a fully edited photo in full resolution.

  • Denis Wettmann

    50 out of 100 people have a penis, how is this relevant?

  • Denis Wettmann

    Thank you for your valuable contribution to this discussion.

  • Denis Wettmann

    Could you elaborate on how your clients photos get usualy stolen and under which conditions?

  • Denis Wettmann

    “Yes it might be able to be removed BUT the average person doesn’t know a photo editing program well enough to go in and remove it.” I would argue the average person has no interest in making profit of amateur photographers and people seriously earning money with this profession know how to protect their work (without defacing it with watermarks).

  • Syed Abbas

    This is so exaggerated! I’ve never seen any good photographer protecting their work with such horrendous watermarks!

  • Kaouthia

    Why do you care what other photographers do with their images?

    It’s not up to you to decide what they do with their work. If you want to view them unhindered, fork over the cash. :)

  • Max


  • Lindsey Henninger

    I completely agree with you. I am an artist and have seen/had so many people report to me about thievery of my works…from people uploading my arts onto other sites claiming them as their own, to people using my works for graphics & logos on their websites, to even having rotten low-lives selling prints of them on eBay…needless to say, I went through each of my pieces & added a watermark. Not that I *wanted* to but like Max said, “things are very different” & although the mark may sometimes be a distraction, it’s not something most artists/photographers/graphic designers wish to plant on their works but it’s better than the alternatives…having your hard-work hijacked.

  • Danielle Donders

    EXIF data is not going to link my (filched) work back to me when it goes viral on Pinterest.

  • Steve Thornton

    “Do not upload a fully edited photo in full resolution.”

    In this day & age, you do not need a full resolution image to be useful. On the Internet it can be almost any usable size to have value.

    Also keep in mind the most common size photos in magazines are “Thumbnail” size. So if you took a photo from the Internet that was 1100 pixels wide by 733 pixels high, you can change that into a 3.6″ x 2.4″ (9.1 cm x 6.1 cm) x 300 PPI photo & easily use it in print form. Or it will also become an 11″ x 7.3″x100 PPI (28 cm x 18.5 cm) in a newspaper.

    Keep this in mind, people normally do not steal something that they see has having no value.

  • artist

    who says they are ugly!! now you know who took them huh!!!

  • js

    One thing that’s being completely disregarded by the Mr. Praslowicz is the fact that amateurs who have better work actually have to worry about their work being stolen MORE than what one would term ‘pro photogs’ do. Why? Think about it: if you were a thief looking to pass off something as your own or not be noticed, are you going to steal the thing that EVERYONE recognizes or the thing that noone can?

    Also, very nice job of completely ignoring the very valid points that have been made here that photography and society has COMPLETELY changed in the last 20 years.

    So, Kip Praslowicz, why not think logically before spouting idiocy that ignores very real issues on the matter?

  • STIC

    “they’re not very popular among photo viewers, since they do a lot to detract from the content of the photographs.”

    That’s the POINT!

    You like the photo? Want to see it without a watermark? Then get yourself some talent, a bunch of expensive gear, spend a few years practicing and go and shoot it yourself…or quit your f*cking moaning and buy the image!

  • darkerThanBlue

    Um, just so you know, the first publication of “Afghan girl” was on the cover of National Geographic Magazine, and had their cover text all over it.

  • Jessica Turner

    definitely agree!

    p.s. love your work!

  • Cynazzam

    Well quite frankly back in those days photos stealing was not as easly. They didn’t live in the digital world we live in today, photoshop was not what it is today. Putting a huge watermark was not only not needed but not even thought of. In today’s advanced digital world even with a watermark your work is being stolen and modified.

  • Edward

    Sticking a sign on your lawn saying the house is owned by you does not stop it being burgled, locks can. Similarly putting photos only on sites which leave you with your rights (this includes Facebook btw) will not stop them being stolen, a watermark can.

  • Mariela Viviana Chavez

    maybe that funny remark you did work in top countries in a shithole like mine we got our work robbed daily and it aint pretty to see others making money from oour cameras

  • Joe

    ha, someone used papyrus to watermark their photo. #amateur

  • RealityCheck

    For every original hard working creative person, there are 16,000 disrespecting douche bag wanna-be thief mouth piece with zero understanding of integrity.