How to Protect Your Photos With A Watermark

In Marketing/Business, Post-processing by Jim Harmer29 Comments

I've always disliked watermarks.  When I am asked to provide a portfolio review and see watermarks on the picture, I'm unable to even concentrate on the photo because I'm so distracted with the watermark.

However, about a year ago, I started watermarking my photos because I found a way to do it unobtrusively by using my signature on the photo.  After all, when you walk into an art gallery there are signatures on the photos, so why not recreate that same branding on your digital photos?

In this tutorial, I want to explain why watermarking your photos is important EVEN IF the watermark could easily be cloned or cropped out.  Also, I'll show you step-by-step how to watermark your photos in Photoshop or Lightroom.

Note: If you receive this post via email, be sure not to miss out with this video on watermarking that is associated with this post.

How to add a watermark to your photos in Lightroom or Photoshop, and why it is so important!

How to watermark your pictures.

Why watermark photos if they are so easily removed?

Disclaimer: While I did go to law school, I'm not your lawyer.  The information presented here is my understanding of the law as I have applied it to my business.  Seek competent and licensed legal advice from an attorney licensed in your jurisdiction to apply the law to your circumstances.

There are three compelling reasons to watermark your photos: (1) It is an obvious visual cue to a potential infringer that the photographer wants to protect her rights, (2) It enables those who see your work to find you to license it, and (3) If the watermark is removed, the photographer may receive additional damages in the case of an infringement.

In the U.S. Copyright Law, under section 1202, copyright holders are granted up to $25,000 in damages if an infringement occurs where the wrongful party removed the watermark.  This money is in addition to damages for the infringement, and it provides for attorneys fees, and it can be collected even where the photographer did not register her images.  More on the legal aspects of watermarking on the FANTASTIC PhotoAttorney Blog.

How do you watermark your photos using Photoshop?

There are several ways to watermark your photos in Photoshop.  I have found, however, that the simplest way of doing so is by creating a brush of your logo, and then simply stamping the photo inside Photoshop.  If you're receiving this post via email, you can see a video of how to watermark your photos in photoshop here.

Step One: Create a black document in Photoshop that is 500px wide and 300 in height.  Resolution 150, transparent background.

Step Two: Get a paint brush with black paint and draw your signature on the canvas.

Step Three: Go to edit >define brush preset

Step Four: When you want to watermark an image, simply go to your brush tool and find the brush logo you just created, and stamp it on the picture.  Simple!

How do you watermark your photos using Lightroom?

Watermarking photos in Lightroom is even faster than using Photoshop.  If you're receiving this post via email, you can see a video tutorial on how to add a watermark in Lightroom here.

Step One: Create your watermark logo in Photoshop or other program (see directions above)

Step Two: Highlight the photo you want to apply the logo to and go to File > Export

Step Three: Go to the bottom of the export dialogue to watermarking and click edit watermarks

Step Four: Browse to the graphic watermark you want to use and position the graphic on the photo.  Save this watermark.

Step Five: Whenever you want to watermark a photo, Lightroom will automatically watermark it with the graphic you chose.  If you don't want to watermark a particular image, simply uncheck the watermark box as you export.  Simple!

About the Author

Jim Harmer

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Jim Harmer is the founder of Improve Photography, and host of the popular Improve Photography Podcast. More than a million photographers follow him on social media, and he has been listed at #35 in rankings of the most popular photographers in the world. Jim travels the world to shoot with readers of Improve Photography in his series of free photography workshops. See his portfolio here.


  1. The signature is a cool idea, but it isn’t very useful for getting someone who wants to license your image to your website. My watermark is just –> in the lower right corner in vertical 50% transparent white text with a faint, black outside glow that is about 8 to 10 points in size with the image size of 700 pixels on the long side. Very easy to crop off, but so unobtrusive that it will most likely get left in. I just made it in Lightroom so when I export images to post on my blog, my blog export template puts the watermark on.

  2. Thank you for the tutorial! I’d like to add, if you want to do a typed stamp, for instance, mine is “Bri Free ~ 2012”, you type it with the letter tool, simplify the layer, and then select the brush tool on the bar before you click “Define brush”. Worked for me in Adobe Photoshop Elements 4.0, so I’d like to assume it works in newer verions 🙂

  3. Hello!
    I already watermark my photos, but do you know how to do a batch at a time? Thanks!

    1. Heya

      in Lightroom in your Library once you have finished editing the pictures.
      click ONLY *once* on a picture in the Library now on the Keyboard Press and Hold ‘Ctrl+A’ then you will see all the images highlighted, select at the top left drop down menu, look for Export and choose your folder where you want them to go, and further down adjust quality and you can add a watermark and remove a watermark like the video says. then this will apply to all the images that where selected. Click Export and now you can use that extra time you have saved taking more pictures and learning always “Light and Love”

  4. And if you don’t have a Photoshop you can do it for free with Photo Helper (

  5. Great information thank you.
    I have a question can this procedure be done by installing the signature on my Iphone?

  6. Very nice tutorials! Very simple ways to keep your photos protected. I personally use PaintShop for this ever since I learned how to by following this guide: but the result is the same. Unlike with online editors and free software for adding watermark, PaintShop, Photoshop and Lightroom watermarks are very hard to delete 🙂

  7. I purchased a really nice watermark off of Etsy. But when I put it on my pics and make it transparent the whole image disappears. My pic is a vintage camera and flowers around it. Do you know what I can do?

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