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If you’re one of those photographers who add logos or a copyright statement to photos then you’ll need to know how to add watermarks in Lightroom. It’s surprisingly easy, but does catch some photographers out who look for watermarking options in the wrong place.
How watermarks in Lightroom work
Before we start there are a couple of important things to understand about using watermarks in Lightroom.
- The first is that Lightroom only applies watermarks when you export your photos. There’s no way to add watermarks in the Develop module.
- The second is that if you export more than one photo at a time Lightroom adds the same watermark to each photo in exactly the same place. This is something to bear in mind when exporting photos in batches.
Simple watermarks in Lightroom
The easiest way to create a watermark in Lightroom is to use the Simple Copyright Watermark option. You’ll find this in the Export window under the Watermarking options.
Lightroom uses the text in the Copyright field of the photo’s metadata for the watermark.
The result looks something like this. Lightroom places the watermark in the bottom left corner of the photo.
That’s great if you don’t want a fancy watermark, and the bottom left corner happens to be the best place for it. For anything more sophisticated you have to create your own.
The Watermark Editor in Lightroom
You can create personalized watermarks in Lightroom’s Watermark Editor.
To get there, select Edit Watermarks from the Lightroom menu on a Mac or the Edit menu on a PC.
Let’s take a look at the Editor in more detail.
1. Use this menu to select an existing watermark, or create a new one by selecting Save Current Settings as New Preset.
2. The preview shows how your watermark will look on the exported photo.
3. If you’re creating a text watermark rather than a graphic one you can type in the text you want to appear here (use the Alt-0169 (PC) or Option-G (Mac) shortcuts to add a copyright symbol).
The three menus on the right contain more options.
If you have a graphic watermark saved as PNG or JPEG file you can select it here.
Select the font type, color and alignment here. Use the Shadow sliders to add a shadow to the text.
This is where you set the opacity, size and position of the watermark.
How to add watermarks when exporting photos
Go to File > Export (you can do this from any module) and go to the Watermarking options. Use the menu to select a watermark you have already created or Edit Watermarks to open the Watermark Editor and make a new one.
Lightroom adds the selected watermark to all exported photos. Don’t forget that it uses exactly the same settings for each photo.
If you want to export more than one photo, but use a different watermark for each one (for example, perhaps using the same watermark but changing its position) the only way to do it is export the photos individually and change the watermark settings each time.
How to add watermarks in Lightroom Publish Services
Some photographers use Publish Services to upload photos directly to websites like Flickr, 500px or Facebook. You can add watermarks to these photos using the Lightroom Publishing Manager.
Here’s how you do it.
1. Go to Publish Services in the Library module, right-click on your selected Publish Service and click Edit Settings from the menu. This brings up the Lightroom Publishing Manager.
2. Go to the Watermarking options, tick the Watermark box and select the watermark you want to use from the menu.
3. Click Save. Lightroom will continue to add the selected watermark to all photos exported using that Publish Service until you change the settings.
How to add watermarks to prints
You can add watermarks to printed photos by going to the Page panel, ticking the Watermarking box and selecting the watermark you want to use from the menu.
Note that Lightroom applies the same watermark to every photo in the print job – there’s no way to vary the watermark or its position from photo to photo.
How to add watermarks to slide shows
You can also add watermarks to photos in slide shows. The same applies – Lightroom adds the same watermark to every photo in the slide show. The options are found in the Overlays panel.
How to add watermarks in the Web module
You can add also add watermarks to photos in the Web module – the settings are found in the Output Settings panel. Once again Lightroom applies the same watermark to every photo in the web gallery.
Here a few things to think about before adding watermarks.
Do watermarks prevent image theft on the web?
It’s not guaranteed. Watermarks are easily cropped or cloned out and some copyright infringers don’t even bother doing that. But they might deter some people who think that only watermarked images are copyright protected.
Do watermarks prevent clients from making prints from my photos?
They should help, especially as most commercial printers will refuse to print a photo that has been marked as copyright.
Should I put watermarks on all my photos?
Opinions vary on this but my feeling is that watermarks spoil the viewing experience for other people. For that reason I don’t watermark photos that I use on this website, or on websites like Facebook and Flickr.
One approach is to use a well designed logo with a low opacity so that it’s just visible but not too distracting.