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How to Watermark Your Photography

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There are many ways you can add a watermark to your photographs. I will share with you a few of the easiest, most effective and quickest ways I know how to make a watermark.
I will show you how to make a watermark in Photoshop and also how to add a watermark in Lightroom. These two methods of how to watermark a picture can be easily applied to any of your photographs.
Watermarking your photos will help protect them against copyright infringement.

A night time image of the exterior of Suan Sook Homestay with a photography watermark in the corner
I placed a small discrete watermark in the lower right of this photo where it does not distract from the picture. Photo by: Kevin Landwer-Johan

What Is a Watermark and Why Use One

A watermark is usually a logo, stamp, or signature superimposed onto a photo. A watermark often has a degree of transparency. Placement of a watermark on a photo is usually done in such a way that it does not distract from the photo.
It is easily recognisable yet discrete.
Some photographers prefer to add a watermark in the same manner a painter will sign their artworks. Others will hide a barely visible line of text or logo within their photographs. How to make a watermark look good on your photos is really up to you.
Photographers use watermarks on their photos to make them easy to identify. They also let people know the photo is copyrighted.
If someone sees your photo and wants to purchase a license to use it, having a watermark will make it easier for them to contact you. If a watermark is removed, the photographer may receive additional damages in the case of an infringement.
Some photographers prefer to use watermarks. Some do not. There is no right or wrong on this issue. The use of a watermark is completely at the discretion of the photographer.
Whether you use a watermark as a way of signing your images or as a deterrent to copyright infringement, it’s up to you.
A well designed watermark carefully placed on your photos can help your brand. It can make your photographs easily recognisable as being yours.

A beautiful airy landscape shot with a discreet photographers watermark
A watermark does not have to be too obvious. Photo by: Kevin Landwer-Johan Suan

Your Watermark Design

It’s important to carefully consider how your watermark will look on your photographs. It is part of your branding and identity of your photographs so you do not want to change it frequently.
Creating a well designed watermark you can use consistently will build recognition for your photos.
Typing your name in Comic Sans or your favourite calligraphy font might not be helpful. Some photographers like to use their website address or a copyright symbol. I have used both of these in the past.
I think your photography watermark will be best if it is attractive yet does not detract from your photos.
You can use or create a logo. This is a great way to help build visibility for your brand. You could simply reproduce your own signature or find an attractive font to use. The options are endless.
One website that makes choosing a font for your watermark easy is Dafont.com. They offer a huge selection of fonts. You can type in your name or other text and it will display it in the style of font you have selected.
This shows you how your text will look on your watermark. Most of the fonts are free for personal use and many are one hundred percent free.
It is very much a matter of personal taste. Be sure to put some effort into the design of your watermark so it will look attractive once applied to your photographs.

A photo of the exterior of a house with a plant in the foreground and a poorly placed watermark that is too large
A poorly placed watermark that is too large can ruin a good photograph. Photo by: Kevin Landwer-Johan

How to Make a Watermark in Photoshop

There are many different ways to watermark your photos in Photoshop. The most effective way I know is to create a custom brush of your watermark design.
You can then simply apply your watermark to your photos when you have them open in Photoshop.

Create a Photography Watermark Custom Brush

Once you have designed your logo it’s time to create a brush in Photoshop. If you have never done this before it is relatively easy. It only takes a few minutes and once you have created a custom brush of your photography watermark it is very easy to apply.
Make a new document the same shape as you want your watermark design to be. I have made mine 900 pixels by 900 pixels and 300 pixels per inch. Make sure it has a white background.
Don’t make your watermark too small. It is much better to re-size scaling down than it is to scale up. If you make you watermark too small and have to scale it up a lot you will loose clarity and quality.
Anywhere between 500 and 1000 pixels wide is a good size that will work for most image sizes.
Drag and drop your logo into your new document or use the text tool to add text. You can use any colour. If you use black you can easily change the colour anytime once you have created the custom brush.
Once you have your watermark design on a white background go to the Edit>’Define Brush Preset’ and name your custom brush.
Now you can open a photo you wish to add your watermark to and apply it. It is as simple as hovering your mouse over the place in the photo you want to position your watermark and left clicking.
Your new custom brush works the same way any Photoshop brush does. You can change the colour or size before you apply it. You can also change the blend mode and opacity if you want your watermark to be semi-transparent.
Experiment with the different settings to get a feel for what you find looks best on your photos. You may want to use the same opacity, blend mode and colour on every photo, or you may want to use variations.

Screenshot of how to make a Watermark Brush on Photoshop

Save Your New Brush

If you have any experience with brushes you will know it can be frustrating when you can’t find the one you are looking for. Here’s a great way to have your watermark brush ready to use quickly.
With your brush tool selected, right click and go to the Settings cog wheel in the top right corner. Left click this and then left click ‘Preset Manager.’ In the preset manager locate your new custom brush and drag it to the top of the list of brush folders.
Save the new set and click ‘Done.’
Now your watermark brush will be easy to find as it will show at the beginning of your brush options everytime.

How to Add a Watermark in Lightroom

If you prefer using Adobe Lightroom to watermark your photos, it is possible, but your options are more limited. You can create one or more watermark presets to add to your photos when you export them.
They can be a simple text watermark you can create and edit in Lightroom. The second option is to use a logo graphic.

A silver motorbike with a stunning landscape behind and a watermark on top created in lightroom.

Adding a Text Watermark

Once you have finished editing your photo or batch of photos open the Export window. You can export your photos as jpeg, PSD or Tiff files and include a watermark. Lightroom does not give you the option to add a watermark to DNG or Original files.
Choose your preferred export options and then click the Watermark check box down near the bottom of the export dialogue box. From the drop down menu select ‘Edit Watermarks’. This will open a new window with various options.
At the top right you will see ‘Watermark Style.’ First select ‘Text’. In th box on the lower left of the window enter the text you want to appear on your watermarks.
To make the copyright character on a Windows system simply press the Alt key and type the number 0169. On a Mac system press Option+G.
You can work through the options in this window to tweak the look of your simple text watermark. You can control font, colour, alignment and other aspects of the text.
Again, experiment to discover what you like and what best suits the style of your photography.
When you are done creating your text watermark click save and name your new preset. This will now be added to the watermark drop down in the Export window.

Adobe Lightroom screenshot of how to make a watermark on a photo of a silver motorbike with a stunning landscape behind

Adding a Graphic Logo Watermark

In much the same way you created your text watermark you can also add your logo and save it as a preset.
To do this open the Export window and select ‘Edit Watermarks’ from the drop down menu in the Watermarking options area. Up in the top right select the ‘Graphic’ watermark style option.
Locate the logo you want to set as your Lightroom watermark. Under Watermark Effects you have options for opacity, size and position.
When you are creating a graphic watermark within Lightroom, there is no option to include text which is not already part of your logo.
Once you are finished creating your logo watermark click save and name your new watermark preset.

Photoshop Is More Flexible

You will have noticed your options for manipulating your watermark are quite limited in Lightroom. Photoshop is more flexible when adding a photography watermark to your images.
Using the custom brush method I have outlined here you can position your watermark precisely where you want it to appear on each photo.
I find it is easier to manipulate the custom brush to get the look and feel of a watermark most suited to each image I want to apply it to.
The main advantage in using Lightroom to add your watermark is that it is easy to batch export with a watermark. Batch exporting will mean the position and properties of your watermark will be the same on every image exported in the same batch.

 Still life of wooden ornaments on a stonetable at Suan Sook Homestay with a subtle photographers watermark created in Photoshop
Subtle placement of a watermark will help build your brand. Photo by: Kevin Landwer-Johan

Conclusion

A good watermark added to your photographs can help build your brand and identity as a photographer. A poorly designed or badly placed watermark will turn people off your work.
Take time to experiment with watermarking your photos. Find something that really works for you and does everything a watermark needs to do.
You do not want to be changing your watermark often as people may begin to mistake your photographs as being someone else’s.
Look around the internet at photographers you admire and see how they add watermarks to their images. Draw inspiration from those who are already doing it well and make your mark.

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