A note to my readers: this post was written in 2015 and I have since had another child. My policy is never to show either of my children’s faces or identifying features on the internet (and I no longer have “personal” accounts on any platform). Please read on for more info on why and to learn how I watermarked my images in the past.

Today’s post is a heavy one, so let’s dive right in, shall we?

Recently, I have been asked a ton about the watermark that I put on some of my Instagram images.
 I’ve been asked how I add the watermark, how I choose what images to mark, how I place the watermark without distorting or compromising the image quality and why I add it.

Why I add a watermark to any photo of my child

 The How is easy, the Why is not so much, but today I’m going to explain both.
My current policy is that I add a watermark to any Instagram, Facebook or blog photo of my son when his face is completely visible. 
I will also watermark photos of my child pictured with other children (and I always, always, always ask their parent’s permission to post – even to the point of sharing how many followers I have, that my account is public and that it is completely understandable to say no). 
Until recently, I did not mark my blog photos but after some recent revelations, I will from now on.
I choose to not watermark photos where he is pictured with me or my husband/another adult because, honestly, I assume no one wants to claim a photo of me in my sweatpants as their own.
Edit: since the publication of this post and further research, I now watermark my child even if he is pictured with me in my sweatpants. Photos of mothers and their babies or baby bumps are often stolen. 
To add my watermark to my photos, I use the app Phonto. It’s free and super easy to use. 
As a bonus, it comes with a handful of filers that I really like but nine times out of ten, I only use Phonto for watermarking.
I always place the watermark next to or near his face so that it cannot be cropped out of a shot.
Within the app, you can pre-set your watermark text (mine is the name of my blog/instagram handle), style, size and color, making it super easy and efficient to add it to your edited photo.
Once your watermark is set, adding one takes a total of 5 steps and less than 15 seconds. 

1. upload edited, final photo from camera roll 
2. Phonto has a crop option pop up first, you can just skip it because you should already have a square cropped photo (if editing for Insta)
3. tap the photo, tap your watermark in the pop up
4. place watermark where you’d like it in your photo
(edit: to curve the watermark around the baby’s face, tap on the watermark, choose style, then style again at the top of the screen and then curving)
5. save photo to camera roll or directly upload to Instagram
If you start playing around in Phonto and don’t care for it, then no worries, there are a ton of free watermarking apps you can use – all of them will serve your purpose. 
 That makes my Instagram process look a little something like this:
take photo on DSLR
upload to my phone via the wifi on my memory card
edit the photo for crop, color and clarity on Afterlight
add watermark in Phonto
upload to Instagram 
I get that some of you may think that process sounds tedious and annoying. 
But here’s the deal: I’m closing in on 2k Instagram followers and I would assume that 1,900 of them are strangers. 
Some are spam accounts, some are other bow shops, some like the aesthetic of my feed but none of them need to be able to screen cap a photo of my baby and use it as their own. 
When I was (gigantically) pregnant with Gray, I made it my policy to attempt to protect his privacy as much as possible. 
I mean, I don’t know from experience but I can assume that having a mom who blogs is super lame. 
Prior to the babe’s birth, I had a conversation with my Husband and we set out to ensure that his full name, date of birth and personal milestones (such as potty training or development and behavioral milestones and/or concerns) would remain private. 
Most of you know that we call our son by a nickname and that is the name that I use here on the blog. I was also strategic in when I announced his birth on all of my social media platforms and will discuss his birth city but not date and time. 
Each blogger has a different stance on privacy and a different set of criteria and I respect each one, this is simply what works for our family. 
So why are so many people curious about the watermark all of the sudden?
I’m sure that many of you have heard of celebrities or bigger bloggers having photos of their children stolen from Instagram and re-posted with someone else claiming to be their parent. 
If that isn’t terrifying (and weird) enough, there is a scary new trend that is utilizing stolen baby photos called role playing. 
If you haven’t heard of the phenomenon that is Baby Role Play, then by all means, please search the hashtag babyrp or adoptionrp. 
I use the word phenomenon because, at this moment, the hashtag babyrp has been used on 34,000 photos.
 Essentially, role playing accounts steal photos of babies, children, pregnant women and sometimes pregnant women with their other child and post them as their own fantasy baby. 
When they post, they then create a story about that child – their name, parent’s names, unique things about them, etc. 
They make families with other accounts, marry off the babies to other adopted babies and so forth. I can tell you from experience that searching through that hashtag hoping not to see a photo of your child or a child that you know is a sickening task.

Update: I stumbled across this conversation while looking through the hashtag and honestly, it brings to light an interesting (and incredibly disturbing) perspective

It seems that to those playing these games, a photo of a baby is just that – a photo of an anonymous child. 

But I can guarantee that the parents of those children feel a deep sense of devastation when they discover that their baby was considered “a random baby off of Google” and therefor fodder for an online game.
 After reading the above Google comment, I had a discussion with a girlfriend in which she told me that she has done every single thing in her power to erase her child’s image from the internet yet, despite her best and extensive efforts, her toddler’s image is still one that can (and will) pop up in Google images.

Based on my time spent searching such hashtags, I recently learned that I was mistaken about a few things regarding the type of photo that might be stolen of a baby. 

I waited to start watermarking until Gray looked like himself and was no longer a generic looking newborn. Huge mistake. From what I could tell, a newborn photo (especially one of twins) is the most commonly stolen picture. 
Because of that, I recently did a purge of my Instagram account and deleted close to 100 photos from my feed.

With that being said, I have absolutely zero concerns as to how a watermark affects the quality of an image on my Instagram account. I am adding the mark to protect my son’s likeness and that’s that. 
So, now that I have all of this crazy in mind, I have begun to look for more interesting ways to photo Gray for public viewing – maybe a shot of his shoes or his chubby fingers would be a better look for my feed, stretch my photography skills and protect his likeness. 
 And can we be real for a second? 
Most people do not want to see endless photos of my baby anyway. 
I think he is the Cutest Baby On Earth but that doesn’t mean everyone else on the planet does too. 
Scaling back on baby face photos means that I’m diversifying my feed and keeping an eye out for details in my life that are beautiful in their own right.  
So, you asked for it and there it is – the longest ever explanation of why I watermark some of my photos.

Is it cocktail hour yet?

P.S. In case you haven’t seen it yet, my best friend Meg has written a post about protecting her daughter’s privacy that is most definitely worth a read.