How can I remove the watermark from a photo?

A watermark on any photo is an indication that the photo has not been purchased from the stock photo agency. For copyright reasons a watermark, generally, the logo of the stock agency is placed on an image, so the image can be viewed by potential purchasers but not downloaded without authorization, in this case, without payment. An example of a stock photography agency that protects its images with a watermark is iStockphoto.

Another agency that protects its photos with a watermark is Shutterstock. But there are great (and legal) ways to remove a Shutterstock watermark. 

Looking for more ways to get free stock photos without a watermark? Free trials from renowned agencies are the best way to go for this! Check out our complete list of stock photo free trials here!

Is the watermark gone once I buy the stock photo?

The watermark is removed when a stock photo is bought and downloaded. Only the images on the stock photography agency website while you are searching have this watermark. That said, if you tried to copy the image without payment, you will have the watermark on the photo.

But the photo is on the internet with a watermark? Why can’t I use them?

If you complete a Google image search for ‘cats’, it is likely that your search will show stock photography agency photos. They are indexed for website and internet browser searches. The watermark is a clear indication that the image is a stock agency photo and cannot be used unless you buy the photo through their site. Think of the watermark as a clothing security tag, which clothing stores use against theft protection. The watermark is used in the same fashion as this.

When using any images on the internet, it is the correct form to purchase the stock photo through the agency to honor the photographer or designer that created the work. If you have found a watermarked image and want to use the stock photo, follow the link associated with the photo and buy the photo directly. It is cheap to buy stock photos and worth the money to have a great image, find out why stock photos are so cheap?

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Check our highlighted free photos featured every week. To benefit from these weekly specials, sign up for a free membership to the stock photo agency and download the stock photo for free. Deadlines do apply, but we post free photos weekly so that people can experience the quality and convenience of stock photos sold through stock photography agencies.

Image: benoitb /

Amos Struck
Amos Struck

I am a publisher and entrepreneur in the stock imagery field. I focus on providing knowledge and solutions for buyers, contributors and agencies, aiming at contributing to the growth and development of the industry. I am the founder and editor of Stock Photo Press, one of the largest networks of online magazines in the industry. I am the founder of Microstock Expo, the only conference dedicated to the microstock segment. I created several software solutions in stock photography like WordPress plugins. Plus I am a recurrent speaker at Photokina Official Stage, and an industry consultant at StockPhotoInsight. I am passionate about technology, marketing and visual imagery.


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