Picture Perfection

Imagine being contacted by a friend traveling abroad. She calls you up saying something like, “I’m in Prague, and you’re not going to believe this. Your family’s picture is blown up huge as an advertisement on a storefront here.”

The friend follows it up with a cell phone picture, and sure enough, that’s your family–you, your husband and your two kids.

This happened to a Missouri family recently. The mom had posted the family’s Christmas picture online. The store owner in Germany admits finding it online and promises to remove it. 

A store using a family photo for advertising purposes halfway across the world is bothersome, but tame compared to some ways pictures have been misused on the Internet.  

Once pictures are uploaded to social networking sites, blogs and photo editing sites, it can be tough to control who has access to them. They are out there for the world to see–and perhaps use.

There is a simple way you can drastically reduce the chance someone would decide to lift any picture you’ve posted online, especially of your kids. It’s called watermarking. 

Evan Advokat from Ritz Camera here in Kansas City walked me through the process. He says Photoshop is probably the most common program used to edit pictures, so he gave me some great instructions on how to watermark a photo or multiple photos using Photoshop. Advokat says there’s also a very easy Website to use, watermarktool.com .

It’s an extra step to take, especially if you feel you’ve only just mastered the basics for digital photo uploads, edits and prints. However, it’s one worth taking. Especially if you don’t want a phone call from a friend who’s traveling abroad telling you that the cute picture of your son pretending to drive a boat is on a billboard in say, Prague.

Instructions for Photoshop watermarking 

Step 1. Decide on a font for your text. In Photoshop, start by creating a new canvas approximately 300 pixels by 300 pixels. Select the text tool and type your watermark. There are different effects you can use on the text such as bevel and emboss. Those options will give you a three-dimensional effect. Once you have your text, you can use the “free transform” tool to enlarge the watermark to fill the page.

Step 2. Now you are ready to apply the watermark to an image. Advokat says, “Open the first image to be watermarked. Create a new layer and call it ‘watermark.’ In your toolbox, select the custom shape tool. Locate your watermark and drag it onto the new layer. Using the free transform tool again, size the watermark according to the image. 

Step 3. Then right click on that layer in your history and adjust the opacity of that layer. The watermark should be visible but not offensive to the image. Finally you will need to flatten the image and save as a copy. In Photoshop you can create a batch process that will automatically repeat these steps to apply the watermark to multiple images.”

words: Christa Dubill