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Here’s How to Make a Photography Watermark

As you grow your photography business, you may start to wonder if it’s a good idea to put a watermark on your photos. Some photographers do, while others don’t. It depends on how likely someone might try to reproduce your photos without authorization. Your watermark can be simple and unobtrusive, or it can be designed to draw people to your brand. Think of it as a signature that lets viewers know the work is your own. If you’re trying to decide whether or not to create a watermark for your photos, read on. We’ll look at everything you need to know about how to make a photography watermark.

When to use a watermark

What are the situations in which you might use a watermark? The first is to deter people who might try to use or sell your images without permission. This situation is most likely for wedding photographers, landscape photographers, wildlife photographers, and so on.

If you create images that are inherently beautiful, Instagrammable, or meme-worthy, then there’s a good chance that someone out there might decide to post your image on their blog or print it on a T-shirt. Adding a watermark to your photo won’t stop a determined photo thief, but it makes it less likely that someone will use it accidentally. In addition, it gives you more grounds to sue them in court, if necessary.

The second reason is to publicize your brand. Maybe you don’t care if people share your photos on social media, as long as they credit you. In this case, a watermark lets people know you took the photo, and they can look you up if they want to license the photo or hire you for a shoot of their own. The more memorable your watermark or logo, the better.

The third reason is to prevent clients from using unfinished proofs. If you’ve been hired to take headshots or photograph an event, it’s likely that you’ll send your client a set of proofs so they can choose the ones they liked best. Theoretically, an unscrupulous client could download the proofs and walk away with more photos than they’ve fairly paid you for.

Clients like these may be rare, but they jeopardize your business model. In this case, your goal is to create a watermark that’s so obvious and distracting that it’s easier for the client to pay you for additional images. Otherwise, they may simply download them and try to remove the watermark.

What makes a good watermark?

Let’s assume you’re interested in learning how to make a photography watermark for the first and second reasons: you want to prevent unauthorized people from making money off of your work, as well as advertise your business to people who see the photos.

In that case, your watermark should be small and tucked in the corner. It should be transparent or at least in a color that doesn’t distract from the image. You might simply include your name and the copyright symbol (©), the year the photo was taken, and your business logo.

If you have room, you can include your website, but don’t go overboard. The important thing is that the watermark does not distract from the appeal of the image. A fan of your work can always search for your name online and find your website if you don’t have room to include the full URL.

If you’re creating a watermark for a client’s photo gallery, then you don’t have to be as detailed. Your watermark might simply be the name of your business or website in transparent letters. Your client can still see the photos well enough to decide which ones they like best, but they won’t feel tempted to download the entire gallery of photos.

Creating a watermark in Photoshop

You can use any photo-editing or design program to create a watermark, from Photoshop to MS Paint to Adobe Lightroom. To keep it simple, we’ll look at how to make a photography watermark in Photoshop using the custom brush tool.

First, start off by creating a new file and designing your watermark. Make sure you create it at a decent size (such as 1000 x 1000 pixels) since you can always scale it down later. Paste your logo into the document and add any text you want to include in your watermark. Then, click “edit” and choose “design brush present.” Give it a file name and you’re ready to go!

To use your new watermark, open up a photo, left-click, and paste it onto the photo. Drag and drop it into place and use your cursor to resize it. You can also adjust the color and opacity to make it more or less conspicuous.

Other photo editing programs may have slightly different tools, but the general process is the same. Once you’ve designed your watermark, you’ll be able to add it to all of your photos.

Online watermarking tools

If you have dozens of photos, it won’t be practical to open them all in Photoshop and apply the watermark manually. For that, you can use an online tool like Watermark.ws, which costs several dollars per month, but allows you to process an unlimited number of files. You can choose from preset watermarks or upload your own logo and adjust the size, opacity, and position.

For photographers who take mobile photos and want to upload them directly from their phone, there are several smartphone apps on iOS and Android that can apply watermarks, such as Adobe Photoshop Mix and iWatermark.

Let’s say you’ve rented a studio on Peerspace and shot a series of portraits. Instead of waiting until you can access your computer, you may want to go on Instagram and post a few unedited images. Don’t skip watermarking them just because they’re aren’t the finished product. If one of your photos goes viral, it would be a shame if it didn’t have a watermark identifying it as your work. The more streamlined you can make the process, the more likely you will apply the watermark to all of your creative work and protect your intellectual property.

Keep an eye out for the kinds of watermarks that other photographers are using on their images, too. Are they small and subtle, or large and recognizable? Watermarks are evolving in the age of social media, but once you know how to make a photography watermark, you can adapt it to suit any type of content you release.

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