The more I think of this, the more I think someone needs to just write a real, comprehensive article on the subject. But that's not really my forte, so I'm just gonna write this post and hope it covers the basics.
You gotta watermark your photos if you are going to upload them to the Internet. Seriously, you just never know where they're going to end up. And not everyone is "stealing" your photos, people share, repost, reblog, and just plain right-click and save image as for all kinds of reasons. Mostly because they love the picture and want to show it off and increase its audience. But yes, every so often, someone actually steals your work and claims it as her own. I've had it happen.
That's when I deleted all my photos from the websites where I'd posted them, watermarked them, and then re-uploaded. Of course, I still occasionally stumble across one of my images that someone right-clicked and saved before I started watermarking them.
But even if I'd never uploaded a single image without watermarking it first, there's still the chance that some of them would end up out there without a mark. If you've had any of your work printed, it can be scanned. Your clients can (and often do) take photos of their own nails. You just don't have total control. Sometimes you have to shrug it off and move on.
But more and more people are getting smart enough to add their name to their work. I approve. Believe me, I have a personal collection of "stolen" nail art images from the Internet too, but I want to be able to trace those images back to their artist. And if you'll please put your name on your work, that would make it much easier for me to give credit where credit is due.
On the other hand, could you also please make sure I can read your watermark? Just take a look around at the nail art blogs and Facebook pages that are popping up left and right — tons of beautiful and creative nails in poppin’ techno-color with all sorts of watermarks running through them...and I have no idea what those watermarks say.
People choose fonts that are all swirly and loopy and I can't read them. I can't tell if it's the artist's name, her business name, or her website?
What if your photos ends up on someone's blog? Or online article? Wouldn't it be nice if people could read your watermark and be able to Google back to you? I've done this countless times. When I see a photo I love, I want to see what else that artist has done.
What's the point of putting your name on your work if no one can tell what your name is?