Fun With Fonts – Your Opinion Desired!

It comes up from time to time.  ‘It’ is someone complaining that I use Papyrus for a font on watermarks.  And it’s usually visceral and out of place.  I actually had an email conversation with someone once who commented on my use of the font and as is often the case, people are more sane when you call them on their blog comments.

In my discussion of the use of Papyrus was the thought that it’s over used and people know you suck if you use it. It was put more politely than that by the other person involved, but that is the general sentiment amongst the font geeks; people who are really into fonts.  Sometimes too much.  I tried pointing out that a lot of people, most, I guessed, just don’t care.  It’s like complaining about someone in the classic car circles using a certain type of hubcap that you just KNOW is not original and used by Ford for their 1990s Aero Vans.  Really, the populace doesn’t care about minutia like that, or so I believe.  And that is what this blog post is about.  More or less.  And maybe I’m wrong, which is why I experiment and listen.

Take a look at these two images, please.

What I would appreciate is your opinion.  In the comments section below please let me know:

  1. Are you a font geek (it’s really ok if you are, we all have something we’re geeky about)?
  2. Do you know the name of both fonts?
  3. Does it matter to you which font is used?
    1. If yes – Which do you like more, the top or bottom?

This is totally non-scientific blah blah blah.  It’s on my blog, of course this isn’t hard science.  I’m really most curious if most of you out there who view my images really, really care about which font is on the images for a watermark.

UPDATE 2-26-2011

I have listened to your comments and the voices in my head and have decided to go more simple and put it in the corner.  I also bought a box of Girl Scout Cookies but that was more for the voices in my head.  It now looks like this.

28 Replies to “Fun With Fonts – Your Opinion Desired!”

  1. Matt

    I like a good clean looking font. But I’m not such a font geek that I know the names of the fonts. With that said I prefer the second font. It’s clean looking and easy to read. But it doesn’t really matter to me as I tune in to look at the photos not the fonts. 🙂

  2. stephanie

    I like the first one better because it looks more personalized but the second one does have a cleaner feel to it.
    dakota and papyrus is what they appear to be. I was a typesetter back in the day. 🙂

  3. Lori

    I’m not a font geek, but I’m a sunset photo geek. I find the second font easier to read and thus perhaps less distracting.

  4. kimba

    OK Peter, do you really want to know how much of a typography geek I am?

    Here we go – it’s not a font, it’s a typeface.

    But anyway, I studied (yes studied – and in my day, that meant that I learned how to spec out 9pt true to typeface by hand, on, get this, paper!) typography during Helvetica’s high life – so I tend to go either for the grandaddy, or the lighter Arial when I’m watermarking – and I use it a lot on other projects as well. It’s clean, it’s to the point, it’s professional. It *is* fun to play around with other typefaces, so don’t get me wrong, but when it comes to getting serious, a nice clean sans-serif works best.

    I don’t know which handwriting typeface the top one is – I went around to check some font web sites and huh, wouldn’t you know, using “The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog” to test out a typeface seems to have gone out of fashion online … bummer, because it’s the uppercase W and P, as well as the lowercase a that kind of define that one … Anyway, the bottom one looks like Papyrus, but I say that from looking at the letter y.

  5. Becki

    Here’s my two cents –
    1 – no, 2 – no (though I have definitely used the second font before), and 3 – not really, but here are some thoughts:
    I probably have a great tolerance for fonts on watermarks, however I would probably consciously note if I thought a font too odd for the pic.
    The trees in this particular picture happen to sway to the right, in a similar angle to the font (typeface, whatever 😉 so I think the font in the first picture fits the style of the photo. Other thoughts are that it’s a bit hard to read, and almost looks sloppy.
    I agree with the majority of the comments that the bottom font is clearer to read – and why are you putting a watermark on? Because you must want it to be readable. But I can also empathize with the thought that the second font is quite common.

  6. Eileen

    1. Yes.

    Here’s more on the typeface versus font issue:

    I studied design and typography too. Hi Kimba! (are we in Designers Anonymous now?)

    2. No.
    The bottom font is Papyrus, I can tell you that without looking it up. The top one is perhaps Dakota but I’m not sure, there are many copy cats.

    3. I’d go with something a little more classic for a copyright notice, or if you must have a little flair, use a standard font for everything except your official company name. However, I’d let the picture take center stage and just use an unobtrusive sans serif font for your notice, or if you really want a serif font, just go with Times Roman.

    Whatever you do though, don’t use Comic Sans – if you think you get comments now about Papyrus, use Comic Sans and watch designers’ heads explode.

    And I’ll tease you mercilessly at the next climbing Tweetup about it too 😛

  7. Mac

    I am definitely not a font geek. I like them, but have no idea which ones those are (without reading other comments). Personally, I like the looks of the top one better. I like watermarks that look more like they were written on, intead of typed on.

  8. Adry

    I like the second one better. The first one may require an extra effort to read, while in the second one, you can read it at a glance …

  9. Scott Harder

    Are you a font geek (it’s really ok if you are, we all have something we’re geeky about)?

    Do you know the name of both fonts?
    No and Papyrus

    Does it matter to you which font is used?

    If yes – Which do you like more, the top or bottom?
    Neither, but I have never seen many photographers that make good choices when it comes to fonts or design in general. That’s why most of them cannot create their own web site, most pay for the same BS site that everyone has (with the music built in, so annoying).

    Please stop using papyrus, use something more clean. A script like font will take away from the photo, when all it needs to do is identify, not take the main stage

  10. Audrey

    I think bottom looks better but wouldn’t be my choice. I generally use Calibri for all my docs, email settings, etc. I’m not sure what this would classify me as but I can’t stand Times New Roman, Arial, or Comic Sans. I do however, have a great appreciation for fonts after watching the documentary Helvetica.

    I did not know either of the fonts off hand but I have read the thread so it would be cheating at this point if I wrote it.

  11. kimba

    On another note, I have issue with the watermark being on center. It makes me wonder, what’s the focus here? It’s a bit distracting. Is the photograph a background for the watermark?

    I’ve started filling in file info on every one of my images that I use online, as well as visibly watermarking every single one. (It’s taking some time to swap all the images out, and I’ll probably never get the job done) If you are using your images for editorial purposes, the less distracting the watermark is the better. Just the fact that it’s there in the corner is “good enough”. There is definitely an argument against that theory, but for the moment, that’s the one I hold.

  12. Paul Conrad

    The first one is definitely more readable. it’s cleaner and looks a lot more unique. The second one is overused. Seems to be everywhere. Especially in the western U.S.

    Having it centered is a touch distracting. Takes away from the image.

    Guess its time to change mine as well.

  13. Ron in L.A.

    FWIW, I think the top line should be whatever makes you happy. The url though needs to be easy to read. There’s no law that says you can’t use 2 different fonts.


  14. Christine

    1) Definetly not.

    2) Not before reading the thread.

    3) I like the top one; it has a more creative, artsy, handwritten look about it. I prefer most script type fonts…pardon me to those “geeks” out there if I err in calling it that 😉 Yes, the 2nd is easier to read and cleaner…but distracting too.

  15. Christine

    Whoops…better answer the main point question…do I care? Not really…I’m checking out the photo, not the font.

  16. Renee R.

    1. No.
    2. Still no but now I’ll probably look them up…
    3. Yes – I like the 2nd because I find it easier to read.

    Great work on your photos & blog 🙂

  17. Terri

    I’m not a font geek, but I do love them and notice them. I don’t know what the first one is, but the second is Papyrus (I love it) and it gets my vote. Life’s too short….do what makes you happy!

  18. Shelley

    Who gives a rats !!!! The’re your images, great ones at that and your entitled to write whatever you want on them in whatever font you choose. How rude that some nobody would ‘take you to task’ over it. I look at the image, not the watermark. Maybe the ‘nobody’ was looking to steal your image and couldn’t remove the watermark, loser !!

  19. Scott Harder

    Papyrus is a joke to any designer in the world. I hope some people can learn from this. Of all people in this world, photographers and restaurants use it the most. It’s plain horrible.

    Your work is fantastic peter, I’d hate to see it affiliated with any sort of “bad” design
    I would also left align text if it’s going to hug the left side

    • Peter West Carey Post author

      Scott, I’m curious. You don’t say why it’s so bad. It seems to be a personal taste thing, like saying chocolate ice cream is horrible and a joke to anyone who makes ice cream. But, but, I like chocolate ice cream.
      Can you tell me why it’s a joke?

      • kimba

        Now that you’ve asked that question, I’m finding it hard to answer … one might say it is a matter of taste. Think of the ice cream analogy: You may love the chocolate ice cream that we American kids grew up with, but once you’ve tasted Bacci Gelato, does the old-fashioned American chocolate ice cream ever really hit the spot again? Once you learn about things that taste better, you sort of hold them in your head under the category “better things”.

        But that’s not really a reason. Papyrus is overused – and you might say that Helvetica or Arial are overused, and ask, why aren’t they on the crap list? They aren’t on the crap list because they aren’t overly stylized. Papyrus and typefaces like it are stylized to an extreme degree, and while they can be pretty or interesting, they should only be used in small doses or or for captions about, say, Egyption papyrus … Typefaces like Papyrus look better when they are used in minimal amounts, like for a caption with a document, or a headline (not the headline and the content). You might then go on to say that, Well, I only used it minimally, in my watermark!, But then I would say that no, that’s not what I meant, because your entire watermark was Papyrus.

        But hey, I’m using Verdana as one of my content typefaces so I’m not sure, education be damned, that I’m qualified to comment 🙂

        This is a time when I wish U&lc was still publishing …


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