The never-ending struggle: sharing my kiddo online

I’m pretty sure this will be a never ending struggle in my mind. Do I really want my daughter on my blog? It’s so hard when she’s just so darn awesome. Such a huge part of my life. How could I not share photos of her? But, I don’t have a complete list of who’s actually reading my blog. I know most of you are amazing and awesome. But, the world isn’t perfect. Who else is reading?

Who else is here for other reasons? I feel like I need to continue to step back and wonder, is this the time I stop sharing photos of my daughter?

I do know this: the day she says, “I don’t want my photos on your blog.” That’s it. I won’t be posting them anymore. But, for now she can’t really share her opinion. She likes seeing photos of herself on my computer and she doesn’t know anything about the internet. That’s where I come in… her mama. I cannot decide if I should or should not.

Reasons why I’d stop: I know of 3 times where my blogging friend’s kids were recognized in public, people stealing photos and claiming a kid as their own when they are obviously not, and putting a picture of your kid on a shirt and selling it (this happened to Shawntae).

When I went to BlogHer last month, I went to photography blogging day long class thing. It was called BlograpHer. I enjoyed it. I learned a bit and it was fun listening to the ladies they had speaking. But, there was one speaker, a professional photographer, that says she never watermarks. Ever. Her reasoning: what if a company wants to use her photo on a product? They wont want to see it with a watermark! Well, that actually worked for her (her kid’s photos are on a few baking products, etc… and, they paid her), but I don’t see that happening with me (this ladies’ photography is ahmazing). So, I watermark. I was just a bit disturbed at how she didn’t care if someone stole her photos. At all. She didn’t care. I don’t know about you, but I care where my photos go. That’s completely her opinion, that I do not understand.

Sooo for now, I will just continue to limit the amount of photos I share of Miss R. Plus, I have a few unwritten rules…. That I try and remember to keep for when I share photos of my girl online (including twitter, instagram, and Facebook): Always watermark! Sometimes I forget… But, I try to always watermark. And, I’m not talking about the corner of the photo, I like to have the watermark touch her face/neck. Resize those photos. I always resize before posting to my blog. No image on my blog is wider than 650. Never share naked kiddo. That’s it. No naked nothin.

What are your thoughts on this whole sharing your kid online? Do you watermark?

– Chelsey

p.s. I’m linking up with Just Write


73 comments

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  • Gabby on said:

    I very recently (like a couple days) started watermarking my instagrams. Previously at my old blog I never watermarked my photos, but in my new space I will be after reading all the posts lately. It seems to be at its worse in the tumblr blogging community. People are creating whole fake blogs and sharing another blogger's photos and writing fake stories about their fake lives and getting caught and it's just so creepy. It's not about copyright or anything from me, I just don't want creepers trying to pass off my beautiful tots as their own. Go make your own babies weirdos!

    • The Paper Mama on said:

      Tumblr is so weird. I know some people love it, but I don't get it. I never pin anything from Tumblr… because, they are usually not the real source.

  • Trish on said:

    So…… this may sound a little stupid, but I just started blogging and watermarking hadn't occured to me. It seems like SUCH a good idea in this crazy internet world. Also, if you want to sell your photos, can't you just sell your original without the watermark if you are confronted with the idea?

    Anyways….. I've got to figure out how to do this!
    Trish
    http://www.jellybonesblog.blogspot.com

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  • chichomeschoolmama on said:

    Oh my gosh-I totally get where you are coming from. When I found out that some FREAK stole images of my girls & created a fake life on Facebook- pretending my girls were her's- I was ticked off. Especially because FB made it so hard to get them removed because I don't have an account. My own husband said to me "what do you expect when you put things out there like that?" Seriously??!!!! The point is- people have grown too accustom to TAKING what they want- what happened to not touching things that don't belong to you?? When I see poor Amanda over at I am Baker having her image stolen & the person used it as if it were her own. When she called them out on it- the gals readers actually attacked her- saying that if it's on the internet then it's free game for all to use. Ummm- NO! Then I read of someone else having their son's 1st birthday images taken & used- only this sick-o even renamed him. It's scary. I also read that there is software out there that can scrape your content as soon as it's published & it will post on a scammer's blog- then they have everything- automatically. I have started using a watermark with my URL so there is no question what blog it came from. This gal used my images with my watermark- only the names were so similar & I had the watermark so small in the corner that I guess she thought no one would notice that it wasn't her's. I also right clicked disabled my images & I disable every picture I upload so it can't be left clicked into a new screen (that can then be right clicked) But there are still other ways & it's frustrating. I'm hoping that with all this talk about it the blogging platforms will take action & do more to help us protect our content. I have shared far less pics of my kids & the whole thing has taken a lot of my joy of photographing them away, which makes me even more sad. Bottom line- our content & our images are OURS & not for the free taking.

  • Julia on said:

    I use pic monkey to put my name on most of my pics but I'm a bit lazy about it. Sometimes I do and sometimes I don't. Then sometimes I worry about putting pics up. It's a tough choice to make.

    • The Paper Mama on said:

      Sometimes I just plain forget. But, I try my best to watermark all of them.

  • liz on said:

    This really hits home. It is something I constantly worry and think about. In fact, when I first started my blog I never posted pictures. No family and no self pictures. But, then I saw so many amazing blog and woman who do and it's just a wonderful way to document your life. Obviously, I do share photos and I haven't been watermarking them. You've made me reconsider that. I also find it interesting that right after I read this post last night I opened Jonas' backpack and there was a pamphlet about internet safety and what not to post.

    • The Paper Mama on said:

      Really? What a coincidence. And, wow…. the pamphlets they send home are so different than when I was in grade school.

  • Pieni lintu on said:

    I write my blog name to my photos and I don't publish faces of my boys.

  • The Paper Mama on said:

    I know! It's so weird. She said that and Jess and I looked at each other like, "Uhhh, wha?"

  • The Paper Mama on said:

    I agree. If a magazine, or company would like to buy a photo… I have all the originals. They can email me. 🙂

  • The Paper Mama on said:

    That is good. And, I think you're a fantastic awesome amazing blogger. <3

  • The Paper Mama on said:

    Seriously…. She said that and I thought she was crazay. 😉

  • Dani @ My Little Apricot on said:

    Great post! I battled over this for a long time. I know I tend not to watermark and for the most part, I’m okay with that. Sometimes I will, but usually I forget. Mostly it’s because I hate my graphics program.

    I do have my own set of rules though. I used to use my daughter’s name in my blog posts, but now I use nicknames or her first initial. I went so far as to actually go back through 3 years of blog posts and change it one time. Yes, if someone uses a history feature, I’m sure they can figure it out and there’s probably a picture or two with her first name in it, but if you’re just reading through the blog, you won’t find her name easily. I also never post anything naked. If there’s something with her topless (or bottomless) that’s just too cute to pass up, then I’ll try to crop it or censor it. I also resize my pictures when I post them, but that’s just an old habit, not really a rule.

    And I totally agree, the day she tells me no pictures on my blog, that’s it.

  • Mandy Chiappini on said:

    Obviously, I watermark. And I did for a while, but I wasn't always smart about it… as thrown in my face by "Lola"– the weirdo that stole pictures of Bennett 🙁 Gosh, it really sucks to have to think about this, but unfortunately we have to. Thanks for sharing this!! It really will help to raise awareness about the creepers out there and the importance of protecting our images. BTW, I find it REALLY odd that a professional photographer wouldn't watermark her images. That is so strange. If a company wants the image, they can contact her directly and she can send them the un-WM version. Duh.

  • Joules on said:

    Ah, the eternal struggle. How much to share, what do we choose to put out there. I think you have to do whatever feels right for you, everyone else’s opinions be damned.
    I usually watermark, although there have been times I’ve forgotten. My theory is that peeps are mostly good and will not steal your stuff or do weird and gross stuff with it. There will always be creepers and people that take the other path. That’s true on the internet and in life. I want to connect with people and share my life, which is why I have a blog. My kid is a big part of that and bears the brunt of mama owning a dslr. I put the pictures out there and keep the details under wraps.
    I’m glad you share the photos you do and don’t mind the face tat watermark:) I enjoy your photography, especially your gifs. And your kiddo is totes adorbs, obvi.

  • Melissa on said:

    The hubby and I are in a constant battle over photos of our three-year-old son being put on the Internet. Once they're out there, they are out there, even if something is marked "private". We came to an agreement: only post a certain number of photos each month. I don't always adhere to this agreement, but I do keep it limited. I've seen what happened to Mandy's {A Sorta Fairytale} and Shawntae's {A Little King and I} photos (which is absolutely appalling!). So I have decided to start watermarking all of my images. IF someone EVER wanted to use any of them, they could contact me and I could get them the original without a watermark! 🙂 I love sharing pictures, when I actually get around to it! So, like you, until Dustin tells me "no more!" I will put a few up here and there.

  • Eleanor on said:

    Anytime I read blogs like yours or I Rock So What or even A Cup of Jo I'm stunned that mommas share photos of their children online in any form, not just a blog. Even though it stuns me, similar to your shock that a blogger would intentionally not watermark photos. My fear and caution is a result of being a victim of stalking, even though it wasn't by way of my blog. And just like you mentioned, people may recognize the face they see online and of course that can be an awesome thing to meet your readers, but like you mentioned, sometimes your readers aren't nice and they don't have good intentions, whatever form that may be. So, as for me, I choose not to share our photos for the fear of my child becoming a victim. Obviously, the Internet isn't the only way through which anyone can be a victim, but it certainly opens the door much wider and leaves us with less of an eye to see who or where the danger may be coming from….and if we can't so easily detect it, it's naturally more difficult to prevent it.

  • kat9365 on said:

    stuff like this pops into my head but since my blog is all about my kid its hard not to keep posting pictures of her. plus i love sharing them – but i never watermarked. now im so creeped out i might reconsider

  • Nanette on said:

    If I were a more popular blogger (like YOU!), I'd probably worry more about my gal's pics online. At some point I may consider watermarking, but for now I use Flickr to prevent people from at least downloading the photo, although there are definite ways around it. While I doubt anything I've ever blogged is something that could come back to haunt her in the future, I try to safeguard her from Google searches by using on online pseudonym.

  • Alena on said:

    Thought the SAME THING when the woman says she doesn't watermark. And if you remember that company used that photo with our asking in a pitch or inner office marketing something. The client liked it and then they came to her and wanted to buy it. But how many times are photos of her kids being used in a way she isn't approving or wouldn't be appropriate? It sits wrong with me.

  • everydaycommotion on said:

    I've chosen not to use my kids' photos on my blog and I also don't use our real names. The world is a big place, and I never know if something I've written will one day come back to haunt me at a job interview, or something I think is cute will come up in a Google search when my son is 15 an his friends find it and make fun of something. When my kids are old enough to give consent to these things, maybe I'd use their names, but for now I don't. I ask my older three for permission before I put their pictures on Facebook, too.

    • The Paper Mama on said:

      I've often wish that I had never used R's real name. BUT, it's done. I think it's great you planned ahead.

  • paige on said:

    i need to start watermarking. thanks for this enlightening post.

  • siuan329 on said:

    Completely understandable. My seven year old son has asked me not to share is photos on line and I respect that. Do what feels right to you and it will all work out.

    • The Paper Mama on said:

      I keep wondering how old R will be when she says, "No more!" 🙂

  • Alyssa S. on said:

    I understand that you are torn. Honestly I never watermark any of my photos, with kids or without because I feel like it distracts from the photo. I know that sounds ridiculous. Also, people can find ways to work around them. The only real way to make the photo "less desirable to steal" is to put the watermark in a place that basically screws up the integrity of the picture, which is smack in the middle. I realize there is no way I can prevent someone who wants the shot bad enough from stealing it. I try to use Flickr whenever possible because the site bars you from saving images that you view. I'm always paranoid about my kids safety, but I've yet to have any creepy experiences, so for now, I'm OK with the pictures I share.

    • The Paper Mama on said:

      That's good. It's good to find what you're comfortable with. Watermarks always drive me nuts! But, I'm glad I can make it just a little harder for someone that wants my photo. 😉

  • mel on said:

    yes, yes yes… you're in my head! I've been thinking about this/meaning to act on it for a while…. and this was all the KICK I needed
    thank you! So I DID.. watermark/blog/link to YOU (http://needleandnestdesign.blogspot.ca/2012/08/intimate-strangers.html)
    It's a hard balance for sure, but I'd rather be more proactive now than keep my head in the sand!
    xo
    Mel
    needle and nest design

  • TheNerdyKatie on said:

    I have been thinking the same thing a lot lately, and your instagram picture the other day really sealed the deal for me that I ned to be super careful of what I put out there. I already don't post a ton about my kid, and don't share his name, but I feel like I should be dong more. Great post!

    • The Paper Mama on said:

      I really just started watermarking on Instagram a couple weeks ago. I'm glad I started.

  • ericadhouse on said:

    I've thought of how I would handle this when I have kids. I'd have to share them as they'd be such a huge part of my life but I'd also be so paranoid about their safety. I think your making the right decision!

  • Ky_TwoPretzels on said:

    I'm still thinking about this – I don't want to pimp my girls… but I do want to share stories about them and record their lives. But there are creepers out there, so then there's that…

    OY.

  • Ky_TwoPretzels on said:

    Oh, oh, oh, I struggle with this. My girls are 3 and 1.5 and I've recently started watermarking my photos. My blog existed pre-children and it was a life blog with a funny edge. Then it got a bit more serious with some infertility; then of course with the awesomeness of kiddos it became more family-oriented, I suppose. That said – my readers are AWESOME and many of them are family members.

    I often wonder if I should limit the photos of my ladies on the interweb because as you said, they're too young to say "NO MORE."

    I really don't know when enough is enough and I'm interested in hearing what your readers have to say.

  • ruthy on said:

    I keep thinking about this with a baby girl on the way…there are so many weirdo's out there, but I also don't live life looking over
    my shoulder. so tough, but i just bought the watermark app you suggested (i haven't used yet since baby girl has not arrived)
    but i'm sure I will.

  • Chelsea on said:

    Wow. What an ordeal with sharing kids photos. I'm not a parent (yet), but I have no idea where I would place myself in this spectrum. Well, I know I wouldn't do naked bath photos and such. This is a tough one. I am so happy that you are aware of what is going on, and really taking the time to think about what actions you want to take with photos of your daughter. She is beautiful!

  • Summer Crosbie on said:

    I have started watermarking my IG pics after Shawntae's ordeal. So scary! I have never understood the parent that posts naked pics of their kids for everyone to see, even if they do block out their parts. There are just too many creepers andplusalso, I'm not sure my kids would want to know later that I did that. I definitely second guess myself with what I will share now.

    • The Paper Mama on said:

      Oh yes… "Mom, why did you post that nude photo of me on the internet?" Hee.

  • April on said:

    I am right here with you! I am so scared of unintentionally exploiting my child and I am trying to find the balance between enjoying my blog for the reasons why I set it up and protecting my child as well as I can. So I watermark. I post less photos of her on Instagram and my blog than I take. This week alone I wondered whether I should close up shop on my blog or not. I've decided not to simply because I love writing and I wouldn't stop, but I am going to be more intentional about watermarking and if anyone from my family wants a copy of the photo or don't like the watermark — well, they have my email address, right?

    I'll read your blog even if cute litte R wasn't on it. Cause I'm not a creeper, that's why. 🙂

  • sandrakohlmann on said:

    I need to start watermarking. I always assumed that since my photos aren't that great, that nobody would want them. I'm learning that's not the case. As for sharing pictures of my daughters: a big part of the reason I do, is for ease of sharing their lives with friends and family. Our world is becoming more and more internet/tech driven and the girls will have an online presence by the time they are in middle school or early high school. It's pretty much unavoidable these days. I like the idea of teaching them safe and selective ways of sharing their lives online. My sister kept my niece offline until she was a freshman in high school, or so she though. She never taught her anything, never showed her a positive way of doing it. Then she found out her daughter had a secret, unsafe, and very questionable online persona that was allowing her to sneak around. I don't think blogging pics of my daughters will necessarily prevent this, but it will let them grow up with an understanding of safe, careful ways of sharing themselves. Also, I will teach them to watermark!

  • ana {bluebirdkisses} on said:

    I worry about this alot. I actually have pretty mixed feelings about it too, and I'm still on the fence about how I feel about sharing J with th world. But like you I have the same rules related to sizing, and naked babies. They might be cute but they are private and thre are some sick people out there. I worry less about people making a profit from my pics and more about the creepers.

  • secret mom thoughts on said:

    I don't watermark but I never post nude kid pics no matter how cute. It is scary out there. I probably should watermark.

    • The Paper Mama on said:

      I just feel a little better with a watermark. I know there are ways to remove them… But, at least I'm making it more difficult. 🙂

  • Ali on said:

    This is a really hot topic for me. A few nights ago, on a whim I checked my blog traffic sources. Blogger's stats said I had two Russian porn sites linking to my blog. Like really nasty porn sites. Obviously, I have nothing inappropriate at all, but it makes me wonder. Since I don't use the premuim version of StatCounter I wasn't able to tell what post it was going to (out of the 5-day time frame). Now I'm wracking my brain trying to figure out what would have made that happen and I'm totally freaked out.

    • lauren on said:

      Ali, I had the SAME thing happen to me about two weeks ago from a random inappropriate site. I realized I had typed a phrase in the title of my post (or in my post) and thats what was bringing the hits. I changed the wording and no more hits from there…thankfully. I almost shut mine completely down after a minor freak out moment! Hope that helps!

    • Lauren on said:

      The same thing happened to me! Two adult sites and I could not for the life of me figure out why. It freaked me out, but it has stopped so I'm letting it go for now.

  • Anni on said:

    Great post! I read the one on Jess blog a couple of days ago as well. I just recently started watermarking my pics.
    Not all of them, but stuff I care about I do watermark.

    I find the trend of sharing instagram accounts pretty scary and disturbing, though!
    I mean seriously, who wants instagram followers? I keep my instagram kinda private. just like my facebook. I don´t know.
    I share stories and pics on my blog. Do I really need trazillion other platforms to "promote" myself? Dunno…

    • The Paper Mama on said:

      That's really hard. I grow my instagram since its for my business. And, have considered opening a private one just for friends and family.

      • Anni on said:

        having one for business is more than ok 🙂

  • orangemomonani on said:

    It seems like everyone is talking about this lately and I am definitely one of them. I keep going back and forth on if I should stop sharing the mini or if I should stop blogging. It's hard to find out what's right. For now I am following your rules I had stopped watermarking because I was lazy but I am definitely going to start again. Also no nakie photo's ever.

  • Tottums on said:

    I'm trying to be better about this too. I take a LOT of photos of my boys, and a lot of them end up on the internet {through blogging, social media, you name it} – I HAVE to get better about watermarking everything. Also, I just made my entire Flickr site private. I just don't want to take the chance that someone other than my mom is going through and saving the kid's photos to their computer. This generation that our kids are growing up in – information will be gold. Their online existence will be their resume later in life. I'm struggling a lot with this lately as well.

  • Jeanette on said:

    I blog for my family and my dad is very particular about what we put on the blog. He knows first hand what people can and will do with your pictures. None of my family is on Facebook (Partly because of my dads job) and we are very reserved on the internet. I would say that for now, pictures are fine. But as she gets older I would be very careful of what information you put out including, schooling, when she goes out of town, sleepovers, really anything specific. Of course, you know the best at what you should and shouldn't put up. My general rule is to watermark all pictures with people, and sometimes have a watermark going across the face. Hope this helps!

  • Melissa Irvin on said:

    Ok, I looked at the post where the child's picture was stolen and represented as the person's child – that is the stuff of a seriously ill person. You hear in the news about women stealing babies because they want one of their own – they will even fake a pregnancy to correlate with the timing of their plan.

    I can understand why you struggle with this and would completely understand if you chose not to have your baby girl on your blog. Like you said, right now she has no choice and it is your job as her mama to protect her. As much as I would like to believe your concerns are baseless, there are some sick people out there, male and female, that have mal-intent!

    Thanks for sharing this post – it is a very important message!

    • The Paper Mama on said:

      I wish this was something I never needed to worry/think about.

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