The Importance of Watermarking Photographs: A Pool Guy Perspective


photoinaddThe world is full of coincidences. Imagine heading out to a service call or quote call and taking a photograph of a pool in a homeowners back yard for documenting the pool. Then prepare a blog post and use it as an example in the post warning other homeowners about the danger of emptying your fiberglass swimming pool. Fast forward four or five years later and see the photograph you took of the pool show up in a trade publication as part of an add for an insurance liability company. Would you be surprised? Ask The Pool Guy sure was!

When the Pool Guy started to get active in the online world it was before it was mainstream in popularity. Just like anyone else, he was learning as he grew his online presence, and part of what he did was blog about swimming pools, service issues, and interesting or problematic situations with swimming pools. As he got started it was all about putting the content together and getting a photo up. What he quickly formed as a policy was to use wherever possible original photos that he or his team had taken.

The internet can be confusing about the use of photos that were not taken by you.  The rules seem much clearer when it comes to print media, where common sense and trademark/copyright law covering the rights of photographs, art and the written word. Online it doesn’t seem quite to straightforward. With everyone online seeming to “borrow” everyone else’s photos the question could be who can use it, who should use it, and who should be paid or credited for the image?

The Pool Guy and his team realized that using original photos are the best opportunity to tell stories about pools and service issues. The team began to create an extensive library of pools to use as examples in service related posts. The team also began to watermark every image that was put online. The amount of content created for a blog and website can be overwhelming, numbering into thousands of posts for good websites. As the Pool Guy’s site got bigger and bigger, it seemed a daunting task to go back to the beginning and reset or watermark every photo, so some live on with out a watermark. Imagine the pool guy’s surprise when flipping through “The Edge” The Quarterly Publication of the Northeast Spa and Pool Association magazine, 2014 First Quarter, to recognize an image that an insurance company that he had never heard of was using his photo, and in print, not simply via the web.

Was the Pool Guy surprised? Yes, he was. Did he and his team feel that they deserve credit for the image? Yes, they did. Does the Pool Guy want to make this a big deal? No, he doesn’t.

We thought this would be a great time to remind pool companies that are blogging, and posting portfolio photos online that the best policy is to use original photos, just to err on the side of caution. Plus, why showcase someone else’s work when you can showcase your own?

If you have questions about online copyright and trademarks, please seek out an expert. You can find a number of helpful resources online as well relating to online copyrights and this site about “fair use”. In general the Pool Guy advocates using your original work as often as possible. Oh, and don’t forget the watermark.


*This article is intended to be informational only, not intended to be legal advice!