My advice to Makeup Artists, Hairstylists, Models, Wardrobe Stylists, is that they do not, I repeat, DO NOT work with low end photographers that use watermarks. After over 3 decades in the industry, I’ve NEVER met a good photographer that used watermarks.  Using them is a sign of a wannabe photographer that never makes it to the level they think  that are already at.

The truth is, no one cares who shot the images in our portfolios.  Photographers wanting to give crew members images with watermarks act as if people will say, “Wow, great image, can I write down that photographers name so I can contact them and hire them?!” Seriously, what the hell are they thinking?  When I come across people that do this, I’m embarrassed for them and what they don’t know.

Watermarks are put on images by newbie photographers that are clueless as to how to become successful.  I’ve struck up conversations to several watermark photographers and asked them why they do it.  Their replies have been as follows.  That’s what I read on a photographers forum.  Or, I was told to use watermarks by a more experienced photographer.  To which I point out that most people posting in online forums on any subject is some keyboard warrior that feels important by sharing their thoughts regardless if they are accurate.  And more importantly, just because someone has supposedly been doing something for longer then you, does not mean that they are good at it or business savvy WHATSOEVER.  There are millions of untalented and unsuccessful people in every industry including doctors, actors, realtors, architects, artists and singers. One only has to only watch 1 episode of American Idol to learn that MANY people think they are amazing singers even when they are absolutely horrendous.  But many of these people have time to post in forums and even teach classes with all of their down time from not working!

Anyone posting watermark images anywhere, in any capacity also shows that they don’t get it… I suggest that you choose NOT to work with photographers who use them.  Learn to research photographers work and communicate all the DETAILS of your expectations on getting images before accepting work or test shoots.  If you encounter a photographer that uses watermarks, I suggest you inform them with one of the following, whichever fits your personality.

#1. Smile at them when you say, “Oh, I’m sorry, there isn’t an Agency in the world that would allow/accept watermarks on a portfolio image.  I’m only working with pros that are on the same page and understand what goes into a portfolio.”
#2. Take your ego out of the situation. Because until you are well known photographer with a recognizable style of work, There isn’t anyone asking who the hell shot a makeup artists portfolio pictures anyway.  Demanding a photo credit is one thing (and also ridiculous on anything other than social media) but shoving watermarks that visually distort the image (and scream, I’m a newbie photographer that thinks watermarks will magically get me paid work soon.) actually result in delivering less credibility.
#3. There are NO photo credits on magazine images other than an editorial, and occasionally magazines don’t even do that!  You don’t get credits for doing Prada, Louis Vuitton or Covergirl. YA GET PAID!  And as for test shoots… it is a DONATION of EVERYONE’S TIME… In exchange for USEABLE portfolio images. And NO ONE can use a print of an image with a watermark on it, no matter how small or how faint it might be.  PERIOD.

Posting crew credits on social media images is done out of professional courtesy.  Not everyone does it so instead of complaining about it after the fact, LEARN from your mistakes and research the photographer and find out if they use watermarks or if they bother to credit the crew or not. In a ‘perfect world’ where everyone credits everyone… well let’s face it… that situation will probably never happen. Because, many photographers are super busy, will claim they meant to do it, don’t remember who the crew was, or blatantly just don’t give a shit about anyone but themselves.

Many photographers think that they are the only important one on the crew and treat the rest of the crew as if we are a dime a dozen.  It’s OUR job to ensure that is not true.  I like to remind photographers that if it wasn’t for makeup artists and hairstylists, they’d be mainly shooting rocks and trees.

The truth is, potential paying clients for a photographer don’t really care who did hair or makeup when they are viewing their portfolio and contemplating hiring them or not.  And that is what our portfolios are for… Showcasing OUR talents in makeup artistry, wardrobe styling, manicurist, prop stylist, hairstylist, or sometimes for both hair and makeup to get paid work for ourselves, not for the photographer!!  And as mentioned previously, no one hardly ever asks who shot a pic in a makeup artists portfolio or hairstylist’s book.

So please STOP working with photographers that can’t respect what a portfolio image actually is.  Getting watermarks on images is “The Curse of the Newbie” that just didn’t know any better. But now that you have some insight and verbal ammunition and know how to research the photographer first before dealing with them in the first place, and even then, to communicate about it before it’s a problem.  My hope is that you never have to deal with another watermark again.

Throughout my career, I’ve had several photographers try to argue with me about their importance for watermarks and they all walk away with their tail between their legs (depending on my mood) after explaining one of the three numbered insights above.  So… I hereby “loan my balls” to all Artists reading this to give you the insight and confidence to enlighten these types of photographers to the big picture.  Instead of being pissed off at them, choose to enlighten them and pay it forward.

If this information helped you, or will come in handy at some point in your career, please let me know.  Share the post and share the wisdom.

Donna Mee