How to Watermark a Photo in Lightroom 3

In this article, I will show you how to watermark a photo in Lightroom 3 using the standard, available tools. Adding copyright watermarks to photographs in Photoshop can be a very time consuming task. Although you can create a batch job for watermarking multiple images in Photoshop, it is a rather slow and cumbersome process that involves recording actions for different layouts. Embedding watermarks in Lightroom 2 was also painful, because you had to use a separate plugin that had to be installed and configured. Gladly, Lightroom 3 now has an integrated functionality to embed watermarks that you can use in batch action while exporting your images. Let’s go over the new method of embedding watermarks and how you can use Lightroom 3 to watermark all of your vertical or horizontal images during the file export process.

How to watermark a photo

1) Why Watermark Your Images?

The first question you might ask yourself is – should you or should you not watermark your images? There are many opinions on this matter. Some photographers argue that watermarks prevent theft (which I and many others disagree with), allow self-promotion and help build brand recognition, while others argue that adding watermarks spoils the viewing experience and does more harm than good. Let me quickly point out what I think about watermarks and when they should and should not be used.

  1. Unless your watermark visibly takes up the entire photo like in the image below, it can often be easily removed in Photoshop using standard tools. So if you are worried about theft and copyright infringement too much, either do not post your images online or post them in a small size with a gigantic watermark all over it. You will fend off all potential thieves for sure. I immediately close sites that show icon-sized images with huge watermarks. And I know that I am not the only one out there…
    Big and Ugly Watermark
  2. On a more serious note, if your objective is self-promotion and building brand recognition (which should be your primary goal when adding your watermarks), then come up with a good strategy to add watermarks without spoiling the viewing experience (see tips below). This means making your watermarks small, but recognizable and placing them in a good, open corner spot in photographs close to image borders.
  3. Well-known photographers rarely put copyright information on their photographs, because they want to deliver the best (and unobtrusive) viewing experience. They also often post large images that occupy the whole screen. Why aren’t they worried about copyright? Because they are known and their images are recognized. If such photographs or “works of art” are stolen or reproduced elsewhere, the offenders would most likely be reported and caught quickly. Am I saying that unless you are a well-known photographer you should be adding watermarks to your photos? Of course not. I believe you should stop worrying about theft and focus more on creating better photographs.
  4. If watermarks are used properly, they can help promote your work instead of doing harm. You are not a stock photo agency, so stay away from large watermarks that span across your photos.
  5. And for all those right-click disabling folks out there – you are only spoiling the browsing experience of your visitors. I hate not being able to right-click and open links/images in new pages on websites and blogs. It is about time for you to understand, that if someone really needs to steal your image, they can just press the “Print Screen” button on their keyboards, then paste the screenshot in Photoshop and crop it to their liking. The same goes to all photographers that waste their quality time converting their JPEG images to Adobe Flash, just because they foolishly think their photographs will stay safer that way. Oh and what are you going to do with them iPhone/iPad users that can’t see your work?

Before I move on to specific instructions, I would like to provide some watermarking tips and best practices:

  1. Try to use a graphic logo instead of plain text for watermarks. If you do not have a logo yet, use short text with your name and Copyright © symbol.
  2. When using text watermarks, try not to add the word “photography” at the end of your name. If your name is not unique (just search Google), then either come up with a nickname or use your URL (below).
  3. If you have a short URL, you can post your website address instead of your name.
  4. When using text watermarks, use a standard and recognizable font rather than some gothic/italic/handwriting font that is hard to read.
  5. Do not use multiple lines of text for watermarks.
  6. Semi-transparent watermarks always look better and more professional than bold copyright imprints. If you decide to use a watermark, make it 50% or less transparent.
  7. Another good watermarking method is to add some space underneath each photo and then put your copyright information there. But you would have to use Photoshop and record actions in order to do that.
  8. Put your logo/text watermark in the corners of your photos. Top-left, top-right, bottom-left and bottom-right locations typically work the best.
  9. If you do not feel like sharing your camera settings, remove your EXIF data from images, but only keep your copyright and contact information. This would just be additional copyright protection for you in case your image is posted elsewhere.

2) The Watermark Position Dilemma

Because of the nature of photographs and their colors and patterns, finding a good placement for your watermark can be a problem. Where should it be placed and how? As I have pointed out above, the best locations for standard watermarks are near the top and bottom corners of your photos (unless you chose to add extra space to the bottom or the side of your photographs in Photoshop or other third party software). So which corner should you use for watermarks? I would say all of them! Why? Because every photo will be different and while one corner might work for one photo, that same corner might not for another. A gray watermark will not be visible on a photo with a grey corner where the watermark is placed. So you have two options – either to use a different shade of color that is visible in the same corner, or move the watermark to a different location. I prefer the latter for consistency, but it is totally your choice.

Now moving your watermark in photos would be extremely inefficient if you had to change your watermark every time you need to move it. That’s why the best method is to create multiple watermarks in Lightroom 3 and put them in multiple locations. For example, I have 4 different Lightroom watermarks that I called “Top-Left Mansurovs Logo”, “Top-Right Mansurovs Logo”, “Bottom-Left Mansurovs Logo” and “Bottom-Right Mansurovs Logo”. All watermarks are the same (our graphic logo) – they are just positioned differently.

3) Creating a text watermark in Lightroom 3

Let’s go through the process of creating a text watermark in Lightroom 3. To access the watermark function in Lightroom, you can go to “Edit->Edit Watermarks…” (Lightroom->Edit Watermarks on Macs) or you can also access it from Lightroom’s Export window. I normally access it via the export window, which can be found in File->Export or pressing CTRL+SHIFT+E:

Lightroom Export Dialog

Once it comes up, scroll down and find “Watermarking”. Next, check the box in front of “Watermark:” and then select “Edit Watermarks…” from the drop-down menu. The “Watermark Editor” will come up that looks like this:

Lightroom Watermark Editor

The watermark editor is very easy and intuitive to use. The left bottom section is where you type the text and you can change the layout on the right side of the window. Let’s get started with typing the text. Put the copyright symbol (copy-paste it from here – © or press ALT + 0169 on PC / OPT + G on Mac) first, then put your name afterwards. On the right side of the screen, choose your desired font under “Text Options”. I personally like the “Myriad Web Pro” font, but you can use whichever font you want, as long as it is legible. Choose the style and alignment, then pick the color of the text. I would recommend to keep the color white, since colors rarely look good in text watermarks. The default Shadow settings should work fine, so skip over that. Now scroll down till you see “Watermark Effects”:

Lightroom Watermark Effects

As I have pointed out before, you do not want the copyright watermark to be 100% visible, so it is best to make it semi-transparent. I typically use 50% opacity, but you can play between 30-80% to see what works for you. Keep “Proportional” size instead of “Fit” or “Fill”, and 10% typically works great. If your copyright text looks too small, increase the value to a bigger number.

The next task is to pick an “Anchor” point, meaning where your copyright will be located. As I have pointed out above, it is best to keep it in the top left/right and bottom left/right corners. Start with the top-left corner. Remember, our objective is to create 4 watermarks with different locations. Next, click “Save” and the “New Preset” window will pop up:

Lightroom Preset Name

Give it a meaningful name that will be make it easy to understand the location of the type of watermark. I called mine “Top-Left Nasim Mansurov”, as shown above. Click “Create” and you will be returned to the Export screen.

Now repeat the task three more times and create 3 other watermarks for “Top-Right”, “Bottom-Left” and “Bottom-Right”. At the end, your “Watermarking” drop-down should look something like this:

Lightroom Multiple Text Watermarks

Now that you have the text watermarks created, how do you use them? Just select a bunch of photos in Lightroom, bring up the export window, then select one of the watermarks and click “Export”. That’s all!

Here is how I normally do it:

  1. Select all photos to be extracted in Lightroom
  2. Bring up the Lightroom Export window (CTRL+SHIFT+E)
  3. Select the “Bottom-Right” watermark (works best for most images)
  4. Click “Export”
  5. Once images are extracted, go through each one and identify the ones where logo does not look good or is invisible
  6. Select the images that need to have a different watermark placement, then bring up the export window once again and pick a watermark for a different location
  7. Click “Export” again and then overwrite the existing photo

You might need to repeat the steps 5-7 multiple times until you get the watermarks placed well. That’s all there is to it. Now let’s talk about graphic watermarks with logos.

4) Creating a graphic/logo watermark in Lightroom 3

Now let’s move on to the cool stuff, which is adding a graphic watermark with your logo to your images in Lightroom. No matter how good you make the text watermark look, it will never match a good-looking graphic logo. But to accomplish this, you will need your company logo in a transparent format like PNG or GIF. Your logo cannot be in JPEG format, since JPEG has no support for transparency. If you had your logo developed professionally, you should have the original logo in vector/EPS format. You might also find a transparent PNG/GIF file in the same folder. If you cannot locate one, it is very easy to export your logo in a PNG format, as long as you have the source file. A transparent logo should look like this when opened in Photoshop:

Mansurovs Transparent Logo Black

Since we will be making your watermark semi-transparent, it is best to have the image in white rather than black. Actually, you can use black for images that might be very bright, but for now change it to be completely white, as shown in my example below:

Mansurovs Transparent Logo White

Now export the image from Photoshop by going to “File->Save for Web & Devices” and then pick “PNG-8″ on the top drop-down. Make sure that “Transparency” is checked, as seen below:

Photoshop Save for Web

Once you have the file ready, you are now ready to use it in Lightroom. Oh and by the way, make sure that you are using a large version of your logo (at least 250 pixels wide). If you make it too small, your watermark will not look good when exported out of Lightroom, since Lightroom will have to up-size it for large photographs.

Let’s now pick some photos and bring up the Export dialog box in Lightroom by pressing CTRL+SHIFT+E:

Lightroom Export Dialog 2

Make sure to check the box in front of “Watermark:” under “Watermarking”, then select “Edit Watermarks…” in the drop-down menu. A new window called “Watermark Editor” will come up:

Lightroom Watermark Editor Graphic

Now select “Graphic” on the top right corner of the window. Under “Image Options”, click “Choose” and find the logo you exported earlier. Once the file is chosen, you will see the logo show up right away on your photo preview on the left. You will also notice that the “Text Options” are now grayed out. Scroll down till you get to “Watermark Effects”:

Lightroom Watermark Effects Graphic

Just like with the text watermark, you have to pick the right opacity – I normally leave mine at 50%. The size should stay “Proportional” and 10-15% size works great for most situations. If your logo is too close to the border, you can move it up/down and left/right by changing the “Inset” values in “Horizontal” and “Vertical”. Pick one of the Anchor points again (start with Bottom-Right) and then save the Preset with a new name. I called mine “Bottom-Right Mansurovs Logo”.

Now open up the Watermark Editor again, change the Anchor to bottom-left, click Save again and give it a name like “Bottom-Left Mansurovs Logo”. Do the same for top-left and top-right. Once you are done, you should have four watermarks for different watermark locations.

Now try to export a couple of photos and see how you like the result. If any watermark is not visible, follow my steps shown above:

  1. Select all photos to be extracted in Lightroom
  2. Bring up the Lightroom Export window (CTRL+SHIFT+E)
  3. Select the “Bottom-Right” graph watermark (works best for most images)
  4. Click “Export”
  5. Once images are extracted, go through each one and identify the ones where logo does not look good or is invisible
  6. Select the images that need to have a different watermark placement, then bring up the export window once again and pick a watermark for a different location
  7. Click “Export” again and then overwrite the existing photo

Here is how my image looks like with our “Mansurovs” logo watermark:

Final Logo Watermark

The good news, is that you can use the above method for both vertical and horizontal images, so you do not have to extract your verticals separately. If all four corners are very bright and the white logo does not work, make another transparent logo in black and create additional watermarks. When watermarking very bright photos, use the black logo with 50% transparency and it will work great.

That’s it! Let me know if you have any questions and I would love to see how your logo comes out!

Comments

  1. 1
    ) Diane Burchfield Johnson
    July 29, 2011 at 6:51 pm

    I have done my watermark most of the times. As of now I’ve been doing my own handwriting as much as I like to do since I have hard time to get the font I really like. So I thought about my own handwriting a week ago and I really do like this. I have a bunch of photo under flickr. Not all watermark yet but will do this.
    You just mention about the copyright some doesn’t know how to do this so let me put in for you. Go to Photoshop and use text…. hold down the ALT then 0169. It will show the copyright.
    Thank you for all the tips and I will eventually have it print out so I can reread it. :)

  2. 2
    ) KathyB
    July 29, 2011 at 5:58 pm

    How can you design a DIY watermark, i.e. a design w/ name? And can a DIY design and name be made and applied using CS5???? What does lightroom do that is different from CS5?

    Thanks
    kathyb

  3. 3
    ) N Lee
    August 19, 2011 at 7:13 am

    Great posting, thank you.

  4. 4
    ) MaiMai
    August 22, 2011 at 2:09 pm

    Thanks for the info .Im curious with the logo, where do i create the logo? In photoshop?

    • August 23, 2011 at 10:48 pm

      MaiMai, you can create one in Photoshop (if you have the right skills) or you can hire a company/individual that will do it for you for a fee..

  5. 5
    ) Lavan Clicks
    August 23, 2011 at 3:50 am

    Wonderful way to watermark my photos. I really like the way you explained why to watermark and how to watermark.

    • August 23, 2011 at 10:43 pm

      Lavan, I am glad you found the tutorial useful!

  6. 8
    ) Erin
    October 5, 2011 at 7:38 am

    is there a way to preview (IN LightRoom) the watermarks on the photos before exporting them? Or do you pretty much have to go see the watermarked photos in the folder you saved them to, and delete/redo after that?

  7. 9
    ) Pravin
    October 11, 2011 at 12:58 am

    Great post. I found this very useful. Thanks for the tips.

  8. 10
    ) Niel
    October 15, 2011 at 5:28 am

    You have been very very helpful for a budding photographer like me Nasim and I wish to thank you very very much!!!

  9. 12
    ) abhilasha
    October 16, 2011 at 5:56 am

    brilliant post. very helpful..especially the guide for beginners like me. :)
    i heard about the lightroom. ive searched it all over the google search for a free full version but never found any..since you are a professional i thought its would be better asking for your help rather than google’s..
    would you please help me as to how can i get a full free version download of lightroom?

  10. 13
    ) Jad
    October 24, 2011 at 11:11 pm

    Thank you for this great article and I learn so many things about your basic photography articles. Thumbs up for you Sir! I’ve been a fan of Lightroom ever since I read a review about this software and got curious about it. I’m using the updated version, I know that it can do watermarking but I don’t know how to do it. I used to open lightroom for my photo editing and do my watermarking using Photoshop which is very true, it consumes time. Thanks for this review, sure will practice watermarking using Lightroom.

    Thank you, and surely will read all your articles about photography.

  11. 15
    ) kichu
    November 9, 2011 at 9:41 am

    relly thank u guyz

  12. 16
    ) pegaso
    November 28, 2011 at 3:46 pm

    Like Jad said, on post 13.
    I made one with my logo and looks fine.
    Thank you!

  13. 17
    ) Rachel
    December 5, 2011 at 8:44 pm

    Your article on watermarking is excellent. I have one question though:
    is it possible to apply the watermark in Lightroom and then continue to edit the image in Photoshop?
    When I try to do this the watermark disappears. I have to export it from Lightroom and then open it in Photoshop. I am trying to save this extra step and edit the file in Photoshop directly from Lightroom.
    Thanks so much.

  14. 18
    ) Faye Marie Ragasajo
    January 17, 2012 at 2:29 pm

    Thanks for the great info there Sir, with me as a new into photography this really helps alot. Thanks always. :)

  15. 19
    ) Alofgren
    February 24, 2012 at 6:15 pm

    Is there a way to export both a version with a watermark and without at the same time? I’d like the watermarked images for web usage etc, but I don’t want to have to export twice to have a client version also.

  16. 20
    ) Bruce
    April 13, 2012 at 7:05 am

    Great info for photogs just getting their wings, thanks!

  17. 21
    ) Lisa
    April 18, 2012 at 5:26 am

    I feel like you broke rule #2 about not adding photography, lol.

  18. July 26, 2012 at 1:46 am

    You have explained all the scenarios well. I personally prefer ACDSee Pro 5 for my day to day viewing and minor editing / enhancement for the images. I think that ACDSee watermark solution is easy and efficient as compared to lightroom, as you can freely move around your water anywhere in the image and manipulate it with mouse. The result is shown right on the image, so no surprises at the end.
    I have not tried the batch watermarking feature of ACDsee, so i cannot comment on how efficient it is.

  19. 23
    ) Craig
    July 26, 2012 at 6:01 pm

    Thank you very much! Is there a way to add multiple watermarks to the same image at time of export?

    I’m wanting to put my logo in one corner and the date in another.

    Thanks

  20. 24
    ) slovnish
    August 21, 2012 at 3:04 pm

    If you are novice photographer, watermark is essential, because otherwise nobody recognises you as the author. If the photos are good it also helps spread the word about you.

  21. August 29, 2012 at 11:21 am

    I just started to get interested in photographing, and i love to read this kind of post`s.
    Thanks for this great post :-)
    Keep up this good work.
    Johnny

  22. 26
    ) Heather Newby
    September 10, 2012 at 10:03 pm

    I just had a company design my watermark! I would love some instructions on how to use it with lightroom 3 and cs5! Very helpful site! Thanks for your time!

    Heather

  23. 27
    ) Anand
    October 15, 2012 at 7:08 am

    Thanks a lot friend, i never used watermark for my post, now i understood the importance of water mark.
    Great post and thanks a lot !!!

  24. 28
    ) jenna
    January 3, 2013 at 5:51 pm

    this was the only useful information i could find regarding how to place my watermark in different locations on multiple photos in one batch.. thank you!!

  25. 29
    ) patrick Cummings
    February 20, 2014 at 7:40 pm

    I have recently had a watermark developed by a professional graphic designer. It all looks good and I was very happy with the final look. I downloaded the PNG files onto my computer and went about adding the watermark to LightRoom in preparation to add them to my photos. The exporting process went according to plan, but on viewing the exported photo, the watermark was blurred. Is there any reason as to why this would happen?
    Thanks in advance.

    • February 21, 2014 at 12:22 am

      Patrick, the reason why that happens, is because your watermark is big and the system is trying to resize it to a smaller format, which obviously makes the watermark appear soft. What you need to do, is resize the watermark itself to a smaller size. Then resizing will not happen and it will appear sharp. Now this means that you will have to either extract images all the time at the same size, or you will have provide different watermarks for different size images. Certainly an inconvenience, but it is better than dealing with soft-looking watermarks all the time :)

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