If you’ve ever had your images stolen or posted without credit, your first reflex might be to add a watermark to your images to protect your work and make sure credit is given where it’s due. For photographers, it’s normal to feel protective over your photos.
Afterall, photos used to be shared on the fridge, in an album, or face to face. Now they’re shared on the internet worldwide, and there’s no doubt that this has changed some things.
While watermarks don’t always protect your work (read our argument against watermarking), there are some best practices to follow if you do decide to use one.
If you’re considering watermarking your photos, it’s important to first determine what you hope to accomplish by watermarking to figure out if it really is your best option. If you do choose to watermark, it’s important to design a watermark that compliments your brand and supports your work, without distracting from it.
In this blog, we’ll talk about the pros and cons of adding a watermark to your photos, and we’ll show you how to automatically add watermarks in Adobe Lightroom and Photoshop.
Photo credit: Clarisse Meyer | Preset: Ektar 100
Why Use a Watermark?
Professional Branding with Watermarks
For some of you, creating a watermark may be no more than an extension of your branding. Perhaps you admire a specific photographer that uses watermarks, or you believe that it makes you appear more professional to have a watermark. While this argument is understandable, it can be misplaced. Many professional photographers do not use a watermark.
If you choose to add a watermark, follow our directions below to design a simple, single color watermark that will not distract from your work. Another option is to hire a designer to help you create one. After all, a poorly designed watermark can cheapen your work, and make you appear less professional, which is really the opposite of what you’re looking for.
Using Watermarks for Legal Protection
While watermarks may deter people from illegally using your photos, it doesn’t guarantee it. These days, watermarks can be easily removed with the use of a simple tool or a smart crop.
If you use a watermark to keep your clients from illegally printing or posting your image proofs on Instagram or other social media platforms, use a large watermark and position it in the center of the photo. This way, your message is clear and the watermark can’t be removed with a simple crop.
If you do choose to watermark, we suggest working with a designer to create a subtle and professional looking watermark, or make a simple text watermark so as not to distract from your work.
Photo credit: Brielle Dupae | Preset: Fuji 400H
How to Add a Watermark in Lightroom
If you do choose to use one, you can add a watermark in Lightroom while editing your images.
After you’ve created your watermark, you can use the options on the right hand column to adjust the properties of the watermark such as the color, opacity, orientation, and font. You can also choose a Text Watermark.
If you want to create a simple watermark design to add to your image, you can also do this in Adobe Lightroom.
To create a simple text watermark in Adobe Lightroom:
- Open Lightroom and select the image you want to watermark.
- Click on the “Lightroom” tab in the top navigation.
- Select “Edit Watermarks”.
- In this window, type the text of your watermark in the text box below your image.
To add a copyright (©) symbol to your watermark, use the following command:
- MAC: Option + G
- PC: ALT+0+1+6+9
Add an anchor point for the watermark which tells Lightroom to always align the watermark in the center, top, or a corner of the image.
When adjusting your options for adding your text watermark, we suggest you utilize the “Proportion” option to have Lightroom increase and decrease the size of your watermark in proportion to the size of the image to maintain consistency and prevent you from having to adjust it manually.
Photo credit: Clarisse Meyer | Preset: Ektar 100
How to Apply A Graphic Watermark in Lightroom
If you want to add a graphic watermark in Lightroom, follow these steps:
- Select “Edit Watermark” in the Lightroom tab on the top navigation.
- In the top right hand corner of the window select “graphic”.
- Choose your watermark file.
By selecting your graphic watermark in this window, you are giving yourself access to use it on any image in Adobe Lightroom.
When your graphic is uploaded, you can adjust your watermark options in the right hand column of the image. For watermarks that are meant to be intrusive to discourage illegal use, deselect the “Proportion” option, and experiment with the “Fit” and “Fill” options instead to place your watermark over a large portion of the image.
How to Apply a Watermark in Lightroom
Now that you have your graphic or your text watermark, you can automatically apply the watermark to any image in Adobe Lightroom easily. Here are a few ways you can apply your watermark.
- One image: You can apply a watermark to a single image at exportation. First, right click on an image, select “Export” and “Export” again. Check the box for “Watermark” and choose the watermark you want to place on the image, and then click “Export”. When you open the exported image on your computer, it will appear with the watermark applied.
- Multiple images: To apply a watermark to several images, you can create a slideshow, and apply the watermark to all images in the slideshow by selecting the “Watermark” option from the “Overlay” section on the right hand panel in Lightroom. Select the watermark you want to place on the image, and then click through the slideshow. You’ll see the watermark on each image in the slideshow. If you export the slideshow, the images will be exported with watermarks.
- Multiple images on one page: If you are sending clients proofs, apply watermarks to each image on the page. First, select the “Print” tab on the right hand panel, then select and arrange the images you want on the page. Scroll down the panel to find and check the option for “Watermarking”. This will place a watermark over each image.
Photo credit: Charlotte Wise | Preset: Gold 200
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How to Add a Watermark in Photoshop
If you’re adding your watermark in Photoshop, you’ll find all the information here you need to do that.
How to Add a Text Watermark in Photoshop
If you’ve chosen to make a text watermark in Photoshop, follow these steps:
- Create a new text layer and label it “Watermark”.
- Enter your text.
- When you’re finished, use the toolbar to adjust font, size, and opacity.
- Place it where you want on the image.
To save this watermark for use on future images, save it as its own file with a transparent background.
How to Add A Graphic Watermark in Photoshop
To add a graphic watermark to an image in Photoshop, you must first have a PNG watermark with a transparent background. If your watermark still has its background layer, deselect the visibility of the background layer by clicking the eye icon on the layer block. This will make the background of your watermark disappear and leave your logo on a transparent background. Save the watermark as a PNG.
Once you have your watermark with a transparent background, you can use that watermark on any photo in Adobe Photoshop.
To watermark an image in Photoshop, follow these steps:
- Select the image you want to watermark.
- Take your watermark file and drag it and drop it over your image.
- Select the watermark and change size and orientation on the image.
- Adjust using the “opacity” tool in the right hand panel to make it more or less obvious on the image.
How to Invert the Color of a Watermark in Photoshop
If you have a light image and a light watermark, or a dark image and a dark watermark, you may have trouble making the watermark stand out from the background. If that’s the case, you can make a quick adjustment to the watermark to invert the color and make it visible:
- Select the watermark layer and right click on it.
- Duplicate the layer, then right click again and select “Rasterize Layer”.
- Change the watermark’s opacity to 100%.
- Invert the color of your watermark.
To invert the color, use the following command:
- MAC: Command + I
- PC: Control + I
Once the watermark is inverted and visible, you can move it, adjust it, and change its opacity to make it more or less obvious on the image.
Should You Consider Adding Watermarks in Lightroom and Photoshop?
While watermarking is a controversial topic, we do believe that only you can decide that watermarking is right for you. You should have the tools to know how to watermark in the most efficient way possible in Adobe Lightroom and Adobe Photoshop if you decide to go ahead with watermarking. Still unsure? You may want to see what our Mastin Labs Facebook Community thinks!
We hope that our guide above will help you understand your options for watermarking and get you started on the right foot.
Want to learn more about the tools at your disposal in Adobe Lightroom? Read more about using Lightroom’s Perspective Tools here.
Feature photo credit: Clarisse Meyer | Preset: Ektar 100