If you upload your photos to a photo-sharing site like Flickr or even to your personal Web site, you should be aware that anyone could claim your work for their own. As PC World's Digital Focus writer, Dave Johnson, warns in a September 2008 column: "I hear stories all the time about people who post photos to online photo sites and later see one of their images gracing some stranger's blog."
Using a watermarking program like Visual Watermark is a good way to protect your photos, as Dave writes in his column. Visual Watermark lets you create your own watermarks using text or graphics, embed EXIF data into your digital files, and save your images to secured PDFs. You can perform all these tasks on batches of files at a time, as well as resize them in groups.
The easy-to-use interface offers the choice of Standard or Wizard mode. I tried the Wizard mode first and was able to add customized watermarks to a batch of JPEG files in minutes. However, using the Wizard tends to obscure some of the program's finer points. For example, to use copyright or trademark symbols you need to select an "Add Macros" option--but I didn't discover that until I'd spent some time with the Help system. Using the Standard mode (the program's default interface) and browsing the Help system's tutorials gives you access to the program's more interesting features, like creating secure PDFs and adding EXIF data to your image files.
The trial version is free for 30 days, and is fully functional except that it adds "Please Register" to your own watermarks. A personal license costs $35; professionals must pay for the $60 business version. Visual Watermark seems well worth the cost for digital photographers concerned about keeping control over their work.