Why do you sign your photographs

Discussion in 'Digital Photography' started by CrackedButter, Aug 13, 2008.

  1. CrackedButter macrumors 68040

    CrackedButter

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    #1
    I've asked this before during a discussion and never created a discussion topic until now. I didn't get any replies so maybe this will.

    On my blog I simply ask.

    Why do you sign your photographs

    Though my blog allows me to be more winded and indepth with my question throwing in a reasonable argument for NOT doing it.

    I'm genuinely interested as the practice puzzles me because people who take holiday snaps don't do it and the people making money or defining photography don't do it but a lot of the photographers in between do do it. I'm wondering why. This is regarding online photography you'd find in forums or places like flickr.

    So tell me why.
     
  2. compuwar macrumors 601

    compuwar

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    #2
    The market likes it when fine art prints are signed. If I sign prints, it's because I'm marketing to a clientele who expect it.
     
  3. Doylem macrumors 68040

    Doylem

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    #3
    The signature that interests me is the one on the client's cheque...;)
     
  4. CrackedButter thread starter macrumors 68040

    CrackedButter

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    #4
    I didn't edit it in time but I meant online photography, the kind you'd find in online forums and places like flickr. In the real world as you stated for you it has a specific purpose because it is fine art and for a customer. Online its different and in most Fine Art contexts a placeholder is put next to an image say in a museum or art sale/gallery/function, never actually on the image.

    Touché.
     
  5. GT41 macrumors regular

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    #5
    I can see a point in signing photographic art as a way of identifying your own work. Artists sign paintings, Authors have their names on books and in this line I believe photographers should be recognized for their work.
    Besides that, I personally haven't ever signed a low quality jpeg I've put online, but if I distribute full quality images I generally sign it just so that it is recognizably yours if it gets spread around.

    :)
     
  6. Doylem macrumors 68040

    Doylem

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    #6
    A watermark is the best defense for pix posted on the web (and not posting at all is even safer ;)).

    I don't worry about my photos being nicked. Maybe I should. But I don't...
     
  7. -hh macrumors 68020

    -hh

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    #7
    Originally, I didn't sign my oneline images.

    However, after an outright theft of one of my works by a European newspaper (no acknowledgement or compensation), I revised the image that was stolen to this:

    [​IMG]

    Gosh, they dropped that hotlink to my website in a real hurry. :D

    Since then, I've tried to be faithful of putting a "(C) Year Name" on every images, so as to make its ownership less capable of being disputed. I've found that this does help when contacting Admin folks at places like imageshack to get illegal copies removed when I point out the specific location of my original and how 'their' copy still has my (C) on it.


    -hh
     
  8. Doylem macrumors 68040

    Doylem

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  9. termina3 macrumors 65816

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    #9
    -hh:

    do you mind if I steal that image, assuming a similar situation arises?

    To the OP:

    I don't. I probably would if mine weren't all already watermarked (my classmates have no qualms stealing photos for Facebook; at least this way I get credit), because it both serves to watermark in an un-obtrusive way and it reminds me of the fine art tradition.
     
  10. srf4real macrumors 68030

    srf4real

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    #10
    Thanks for that, Doylem! :)


    :p*deposits another signed cheque in the bank from plagiarized internet photo*
     
  11. AlaskaMoose macrumors 65816

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    #11
    A lot of professional photographers who have shops or photography studios add their logo to their online photographs. It's an excellent way to advertise your work online, since it's free. Not only that, but a lot of professional photographers buy watermarks rights to add to their photos, specially those photos that are posted so clients can open enlarged versions of the photos, and ones than can be stolen.
     
  12. CrackedButter thread starter macrumors 68040

    CrackedButter

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    #12
    Those reasons for watermarking and copyright protection are all valid, but at the same time most watermarks are discrete so as to not distract from the image, you only have to look www.viiphoto.com to see that, I'm talking about when somebody does this:

    http://forums.dpreview.com/forums/readflat.asp?forum=1022&thread=28942114

    Basically taking a $3000 lens to snap food in a restaurant, then signing it with their name and the equipment used. I did ask him why he did that but I didn't get a reply. The signature is ghastly and distracting and most likely pretentious.

    To me its pointless in this scenario and people do it here as well. They sign their photos as though its art when its not, its just a happy/clever snap. Sure art is in the eye of the beholder but what about established art, art which we recognise as being art from more successful photographers? They don't it do, so why do people here do it or people like the person I just linked to, do it!

    Even if the photograph is art, as a student photographer studying it as an art, we're not told to do it so surely there is a disconnection here?

    Artists and professionals don't do it but people who think there were is art, DO do it!
     
  13. anubis macrumors 6502a

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    #13
    Telling people here that their photos aren't art is incredibly mean-spirited and pompous on your part. OK, you study art. That doesn't make you the authority or expert in even the slightest sense. You don't like it when people autograph their work - OK, we get that. But coming off as arrogant and pretentious while ordering everyone here to stop autographing their photos because we're incapable of anything but "happy snaps" isn't going to sway anyone into your line of thinking.
     
  14. Doylem macrumors 68040

    Doylem

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    #14
    I don't know why people sign their pictures, and I don't know (or care...) whether photography is an art. Old argument...

    I don't know if it's pretentious to sign a pic (or to complain about people who do it ;)), but some people must think it adds a little cachet to their pix. I think of people who sign their pix like I think of people who 'talk up' the pix they post on the internet. I wouldn't dream of saying "this is a good shot"; that's for others to say. Conversely, when the poster says "this isn't one of my best shots", I think "Why post it?"...

    Another thing I don't understand is why people put elaborate 'frames' around their pix, or present them as though they've been stuck on a pinboard (at an angle...) with a colourful pin.

    A lot of these gimmicks, IMO, are to compensate for the fact that the pix themselves may not be too good. As usual, simple is best...
     
  15. CrackedButter thread starter macrumors 68040

    CrackedButter

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    #15
    I don't think 'pompous' is the word you're looking for nor am I being mean-spirited, just maybe being honest in how I feel. But I also think you've taken what I said a little too personally, if you have taken offense then it might say more about you than me. Already you've jumped on me because I study Art and making this personal, I knew this would happen using that as the excuse to not discuss the question.

    Anyway aside from that.

    My point was, that even though I study it, I haven't been told to sign my photography as though it is a piece of art, even if it is. I'm not saying I have better taste or that I am an authority or an expert but I can still have an opinion and say I dislike something? I'm in an environment with which to study it and its just not done here nor is it amoungst the photographers I look up too. Well done on missing the point and I haven't ordered anybody to not do anything either btw. Nothing wrong with happy snaps either, don't be so negative.

    I'm asking a question because I see a disconnection from what I'm taught and what I see a lot of people do here or elsewhere online.

    Once a photograph is signed however, it changes the context in the way it's presented and this is what puzzles me.
     
  16. Abstract macrumors Penryn

    Abstract

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    #16
    I don't think CrackedButter is being arrogant, and I understand what he's saying.

    Like Doylem said, I also don't understand why people sign their photos or put frames around them. Maybe the frame makes sense if the photo is only viewed online, but the signature doesn't make any sense. People probably do it to make themselves feel professional --- think "wannabe-professionals" ---- because this is what they think professionals do with their photos.

    Personally, I enjoy the process of taking the photos rather than the photos themselves. "Usually". I'm not an artist, I know I'm an average photographer, and I don't put them on a website or share them. I'll admit that I'm proud of some of my photos. I don't consider this pretentious, because if I do a good job, I should feel happy about it and be allowed to share it with people (if I want). I would draw the line at signing photos to put on Flickr, because I always thought it was a bit self-important, and a bit vain. Am I posting the photo because I think people may enjoy the photo, or because I want people to see me as more than a casual photographer, and closer to a serious artist? I associate hobbyist photogs who sign their photos to put up on Flickr or .Mac as people who try hard to take "arty" photos, and believe their best work should be seen as art created by an artist, rather than a good photo taken by some hobbyist who's keen to take photos. There's no difference between a great photo taken by a hobbyist, and a great photo taken by an artist at his best. These people just want to be viewed differently. Some people enjoy the pretentiousness and vanity of it all, don't mind a bit of elitism, blah blah.

    It's pointless to complain, as not every human action makes sense.
     
  17. hector macrumors regular

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    #17
    Couldn't agree more.
    However here is an example of a very cool and tasteful border... made possible mostly because of the quality of the images

    [​IMG]

    (hope Chris doesn't mind me linking to his site)
     
  18. termina3 macrumors 65816

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    #18
    sorry…*what border?
     
  19. nuwomb macrumors 6502

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    #19
    I personally think that marking the photo is a way to market or create some type of buzz. Or atleast that is the intention. If someone were to see your photo somehwere else other than your website and see your name or whatever there, they may go to google and search it to see more work. If someone were then to buy a print, of course there is not going to be a stamp on the actual photo or a signature over the print. It may distract a bit from the picture however, so would dropping the quality of the picture online drastically so that it doesnt take up much space. or displaying photographs that are sized extremely small and you cant tell the quality at all.

    The fact that someone has time to complain about this is great.
    what about the people that post horrible blurry degraded digital pictures all over online. I think a little text in a corner just is better than a photo I cant even see period.

    Perhaps I am totally missing the message in this topic though.
     
  20. CrackedButter thread starter macrumors 68040

    CrackedButter

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    #20
    It is more like a footer.:)

    In any case, even in your example, can you see by altering the photo and adding the footer its context has changed, to me it looks like something from a design agency more so than a photographer. Great photo mind.

    I think you are missing the message and it seems other people are as well.

    I'm basically saying there is no need to mark the photo (other than to watermark, even then there is a better way which isn't followed for the majority), if it is a good photo it would get recognition just like (as I point out in my blog) Henri Cartier Bresson's image is instantly recognisable without him putting his name on it. Using him as the example and applying it to other great photographers who don't sign their photos but get recognition. Why do people online sign their photographs when the greats don't do it?

    The photograph will make a name for you without you having to make your name on the photograph.

    As somebody pointed out, it could be for artistic reasons and if that is the case why are again the great photographers who are artists not doing it and me being a student photographer why am I not taught to sign my photographs? Only painters do it mostly. But some people have chimed in and stated they do do it for their clients but that is different because its being sold to them already and then they want it signing.
     
  21. Everythingisnt macrumors 6502a

    Everythingisnt

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    #21
    Who cares if someone signs their photos? I mean, if they took it they should be allowed to do what they want. It's up to you, as the viewer, to decide whether or not you like the photo and if the signature detracts or adds to it.

    I agree with doylem about simplicity being best - but in some cases borders do accentuate certain features of a photo, especially if it is being displayed against an incongruous background..
     
  22. nuwomb macrumors 6502

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    #22
    I think it may come down the the fact now that everyone out there seems to have a digital camera. the greats have done so much work that perhaps they started out in the day with film and have since moved digital and found no reason to mark the photo.

    I was just experimenting in photoshop displaying layer and hiding...and I liked a few images more without the mark in the corner. It's tough to say.

    I keep thinking back to the amount of digital photos online now and finding a way to separate yourself besides a photo that you can actually see.

    It seemed to distract my eye from seeing the whole picture.

    This is why I like when people have time to post these questions.

    While I see *a reason for doing it, I can also see why it's not needed.
     
  23. -hh macrumors 68020

    -hh

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    #23
    I should have, but unfortunately, I didn't know the right way to do that at the time. I merely sent them an email, which they never acknowledged.


    Specifically that image?

    I'm guessing that you like the subtle "PAY ME" message?
    (FWIW, I do like this as a theme for "stolen image")

    My advice is that if you do have the need, I think it is better for you to use an image that is clearly your own copyrighted work, rather than to use mine or someone else's, as some slick lawyer someplace would probably use that to undermine your copyright violation claim.

    And what I've failed to mention was what the original image was. To make a long story short, it was of some Euro currency, and the shot was used to accompany an article on the recent introduction of the Euro. Here's the (now modified) "original" that the newspaper grabbed:

    [​IMG]

    FWIW, this image wasn't hard to create: all I did was slap some coins & bills down on a flatbed scanner. As such, its easy for you to create your own version and own the copyright on it yourself.

    And now that you see the original, you can see that what I posted before is modification of this: I simply added a layer that contained my text message, and then used the "transparency" slider on the layer that the original was in, to fade it out.

    Once it was saved, I then put it up on my website in the same location - - and exact same name - - as the one that was being hotlinked to. These steps were done to not break their hotlink, because I wanted their customers to see my message. The 'good' original was also taken offline completely, to try to reduce their ability to grab & save a copy for themselves to use without hotlinking.

    If I were to do this again, I'd make a couple of changes.

    First, when creating the original image, I'd try to have a full serial# (or two) of the currency visible in the composition. This is to make it more unique and preempt a lame claim that currency is a common item and that to hit the same exact composition was a "coincidence".

    Second, I've been occasionally inserting my (C) text into an image more than once, particularly for compositions such as this one where its composition permits a "polite" one to be easily deleted ... here, the white background makes that easy. For example, there's a second phrase of "(C) 2002 H. Huntzinger" hidden on this image in a hopefully unnoticable location. The only problem with this approach is that jpg compression can easily wipe them out, as would also rescaling and other editing manipulations that a "borrower" might do.

    Third, if someone does hitch a hotlink ride, I'd tailor my langage better for the application. Here, since it was a newspaper who should have known better, the language that I used was far too polite :D




    -hh
     
  24. -hh macrumors 68020

    -hh

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    #24
    FWIW, I've found that positioning the mark somewhere along the bottom edge of an image can often allow it to be obscured day-to-day when it is used as a desktop image ... somewhere in the area of the screen that is covered up by OS X's Dock, or in Windows, the START bar.


    -hh
     
  25. CrackedButter thread starter macrumors 68040

    CrackedButter

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    #25
    Umm I care remember? Who is disallowing who from signing their photos btw?

    Okay I've decided, now what?

    Should I point out how it does distract from an image make a comment and hope they upload a new one without it or should I ask a question as to why they do it and through that question cause them to think about the value it brings?

    It is a good explanation but if we go back further, photography's heritage lies with painting. How come they didn't just carry on with that tradition of signing once having created a print?

    Look at this photographer and notice what she does with her photographs.
    http://www.flickr.com/photos/rebba/2757194368/

    This is how I've noticed its professionally done, its there, its discrete and its a pain in the ass as a watermark.
     

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