When an artist has put together a magnificent photo that’s been edited to pure perfection, it would be a crime to let it go without a proper signature. While some artists may prefer to sell their pieces of artwork without a signature, the majority of artists will prefer to showcase their work; they just don’t know how.

How do photographers sign their photos? There is truly no right or wrong way to write your signature. It can be as simple or creative as you would like but should always be at least ¼-inch from the bottom of the page to avoid being cut off by a frame.

If you are planning on signing your photographs, then you need to know what to do and what not to do. However, always keep in mind that there is no ‘official’ way to sign your work. You have the freedom to be as creative or minimal as possible. After all, it’s your work, and it is yours to sign, in whatever way you please.

Two Main Reasons You Might Not Want to Sign Your Photos

It’s true – some artists simply don’t want to write their name on their photographs, and that will most likely be due to two reasons:

  1. Artist doesn’t want it to disrupt their photograph. One major reason why a photographer might not want to place their signature on a photo is that it may disrupt the photograph itself. They take the client into consideration, noticing that they may not want a signature slapped right on the beautiful picture.
  2. Artist doesn’t like their signature. Another big reason why a photographer might not want to leave their signature is that they don’t like it. But what any artist needs to realize is, the signature doesn’t have to be perfect. In fact, some people are really intrigued by a completely unique signature.

What Type of Photographs Need a Signature?

A photographer has the option of putting their signature on any of their works, whether it’s a landscape photo, portrait, or another type of picture. The general rule regarding photograph signatures is this: landscape portraits should have a signature, while portraits can go without.

This is mostly due to the fact that most customers won’t want their family picture to have someone else’s name across it. I haven't seen too many photographers force this on their clients. However, you can get around this by adding in a small digital signature or initials at the bottom of the photograph, out of sight.

How to Make a Good Signature for Your Photos

There is no right or wrong way to sign your photographs. You can make up a beautiful, creative, and completely unique signature that stands apart from the crowd, or you can keep it simple with your initials. It’s up to you, the photographer, but here are a few interesting elements you might want to include in your signature:

  • Your name. This is obviously the most important element of your entire signature. You could choose something simple, like your first and last name initials, or mix and match with all three (or four, five, etc.) of your names to create a unique name that describes you perfectly.
  • The year the photo was taken. Many photographers will opt to place the date on there. This is both for the memory, but also to show the artist how his work has changed over the years. You can place the date however, you please, but the majority of artists will choose to put the year rather than a full date.
  • The print number. You’re likely not going to need to add a print number unless you produce high volumes of photographers. A print number essentially makes your photo a ‘limited edition.’ It shows that there will only be a few of these photographs released, and it may become a collector’s item at some point.

Always remember that these are simply suggestions. You, as the artist, are free to what you prefer. You can get elaborate or go simplistic with your styling. These are just a few basic guidelines to help you create the best signature possible.

What if You Don’t Like Your Signature?

Some artists won’t put their signature on their photographs for the simple fact that they don’t like their signature. So how can you make sure that you’re creating a signature that’s true to you, but also a hallmark that you’re proud of?

  • Practice makes perfect. It might sound silly right off the bat, but much like everything we do in life, practice makes perfect. On a blank sheet of paper, try and draw up a few different designs. Play with your signature until you find the creation that’s right for you and your work.
  • Keep it simple. You could be the best photographer on planet earth and still fall short when it comes to a ‘good looking’ signature. If that seems to be an issue, then keep it simple. At the end of the day, having at least your initials on your work will allow you to display the origin of your creative work.
  • Go digital. Some people will opt for a digital signature because they can’t seem to nail anything good using their hands. If this is the case, you will want to check out the different ways to create a beautiful signature for your prints.
  • Keep it small. Don’t like the way your signature looks? Well, keep in mind that it’s not going to be the sole focus of your photo. While a signature is going to be small as it is, you can make yours even smaller and less noticeable – while still being present.

Where Should You Place Your Signature?

There are a few different places you can sign your photos.

Most commonly, signatures appear at the bottom right-hand side of the photograph. This way it stays ‘out of the way,’ for the most part, but still allows you to give yourself some pride in your work.

There is also the option of placing your signature at the bottom center of the photograph. However, this is a less common area to place a signature and is mostly used for bigger companies that produce thousands of photographs to the public a month/year.

Now, most photographers will decide to keep their signature in-line with the photo. This means that their signature will be ‘straight,’ but you don’t have to choose this method. While it may be a bit more modern, someone who craves creativity and stepping out-of-the-box might opt to have their signature diagonal or completely off-centered.

Whatever orientation you choose for your signature, make sure of this: your signature should be at least ¼-inch away from the bottom and edges of the photograph. If your signature is placed too far down by an edge, it will likely get cut off when framed.

Choose the Right Pen to Sign With

Everyone will discover their ‘favorite pen’ somewhere down the road. But if you’re looking for a good pen to start out with, many photographers have found that metallic pens do the job well.

Metallic pens offer smooth and crisp lines that easily glide across a photograph without becoming smudged. And potentially the most important of all, they look cool!

Conclusion

Signing your photographs is important because you want to take pride in your work and give yourself a name in the art community. When it comes to signing, you can be as simple or creative as you’d like.

Practice until you find the signature that’s right for you, then place it on the bottom right corner at least ¼ inches away from the border.