How to watermark your photos in a visually pleasing way

The concept of watermarking your images is not exactly like shades of black and white. Some people like it some people don’t. There are others who would watermark some of their images but prefer not to use watermarking for other images. The general concept for those who are in favor of watermarking is that it helps prevent image theft. Another reason to have watermarks on your photos is a promotion of yourself as a professional photographer (wedding, fashion and the like).

Those who are against watermarking say watermarking is not a full-proof way of preventing image theft. They further argue that watermarking is a distraction at the best. Is it so? Are there no good ways to watermark your photos and in a visually pleasing way? This tutorial is an attempt to find exactly that.

Technically, watermarking is not a very complex process. It needs a software similar to the one you’d need for the more difficult photo editing and post-processing. In this tutorial we’ll use Photoshop but there are lot of other similar software. There are even some online services so you can easily find the best for you.

There are many contradictory opinions about what is the best method to watermark your photos. Some people want it to be as obvious as possible. This is to discourage potential image thieves. A well placed watermark becomes too much work to remove and that is what discourages potential image thieves from trying to steal your photos. However, there are others who believe that a watermark will ruin an image just by its presence. This is what I personally believe.

Placement

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The general consensus for people who support the placement of watermark in photos is that they should be placed at a corner, be it the upper or lower part of the image. No matter what, you shouldn’t watermark your photos right in the middle or anywhere near the middle of the image. This, though, is a good way to desist image thieves. However, it is going to be a turn off for people who will see your images – your clients and the general photography community.

And keep in mind that if you are going to retouch your photos you’ll have to place a watermark after you done with all other editing.

Fonts

Any font is suitable as long as you can easily and legibly read the content. If it is a logo that you want to watermark your photos with you will probably need a stylized font. However, if it is a simple piece of text such as ‘Adam Zampa Photography’, then it is highly recommended that you use a legible font. It is my personal opinion that anything that has cursive writing may look great as a watermark but would be difficult to read.

You should try to find a font style which is relevant to your photo style. For example, if you are editing wedding photos the font style should be elegant and calm.

Remember, your watermark isn’t just a way to dissuade image thieves. When you choose to watermark your photos you also leave a way for your potential clients to know who took the image and therefor give them an option to contact you. The simpler that information is the better it is for your business. Sure you can use a stylized version of your business name but no one is going to hire you for that stylized font!

What is more important than a stylized logo is integrating your website URL. I have seen far too many gorgeous stylized watermarks where the photographer has put in a lot of time designing the logo but has missed putting in a breadcrumb for a client to follow.

Color

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The color of your watermark should be something that does not hog the attention of the viewer away from the image. The watermark should be there in the image, but it shouldn’t appear too obvious. I’d personally prefer a white color if the image isn’t too bright. Play around with the opacity to make the watermark blend in.

If the image has more darker colors I prefer gray or even black depending on the dominating colors in the image. Gray is more of a color for all seasons for me as it blends well with both white, black and other colors. With the custom brush preset option that I have discussed below it is possible to convert your watermark to any color, change the blending mode as well as change the flow to adapt it to any background.

Drag and drop a logo layer

A simple method to watermark your photos is to open a separate image that contains your logo. Drag and drop that image as a layer on to the image you want to add the watermark to. If the logo is on a solid background it would look weird, so the right approach would be to change the blend mode to Screen. That way any solid color will go away and the outline will remain. But before you change the blend to mode screen make sure that you use an invert adjustment layer on the logo layer.

Options – Custom Brush Preset

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The custom brush preset is a very easy and surprisingly effective way to watermark your photos. It gives you a lot of options to edit your watermark. If your watermark is a simple logo, or your business name or even a stylized version of your name, convert that into a black on white image (black filled logo / name against a white background).

Open the image in Photoshop. Open Edit > Define Brush Preset > (Enter a Brush Name) > Press OK. Switch to brush tool and simply click to paint the watermark on your image. Voila! You now have a custom watermark which gets placed on the photos just by a click of the brush. You can switch to any color while on the brush tool and the watermark will assume that color ideally, however, black, gray or white are the preferred colors to watermark your photos.

The beauty of this method is that this is a brush preset and that means you can change the size of the brush, essentially making the watermark smaller or larger, change the color and or move it around by placing it on a separate layer. Plus, with blending modes you can literally choose whatever way your watermark shows up in your image.