Have you ever used Lightroom to watermark your photos?  I do nearly all my branding and image protection in Lightroom these days.

(Did you miss the big Lightroom sale last week?  You can’t get it for $79 anymore, but $103.47 is not a bad price either.)

If you’re used to watermarking in Elements, you’ll need to get used to a new process and a couple of limitations.

The most important thing to know about watermarking in Lightroom is that, if you’re processing a batch of photos, the watermark needs to go in the same location on each photo.  Further, there are only 9 places on the photo where watermarks can be located – no click and drag capability here.

In most cases, these limitations aren’t a big deal for me and, as I said, I do use Lightroom for most photos that I need to brand or protect.

What’s the first step?  Design the watermark.  Lightroom lets you create a text based watermark within its watermark editor, or you can upload a graphic logo created in another program (use this tutorial for creating a watermark in Elements).  Access the Watermark Editor by selecting it from the Lightroom menu (Mac) or the Edit menu (PC).  You can also access it by selecting Edit Watermark each time you see the watermark drop-down menu.

After selecting the Editor, this dialog box will open.  See below for an explanation of each field.

  1. This is the name of the watermark – you can customize it after hitting the Save button.  Use the arrows to its right to scroll through your selected photos to preview the final.
  2. Choose Text or Graphic here – if you select graphic, a navigation box will open automatically so that you can locate the graphic you’d like to use.  * See the tip near the end of this post for choosing the best graphic size.
  3. Click here to change your graphic.
  4. These are the options you can use to customize your text and add a drop shadow to it.  Note that there isn’t a font size selector?  You’ll change the size using the proportional slider next to #7 in the screenshot above.
  5. Type your text here. Remember that you type alt/option + G on Macs to create the © symbol, and alt + 0169 on PCs.
  6. Items 6-9 apply to both graphic and text based options.  Opacity controls the transparency of the watermark – 100% is fully opaque, and the mark fades with lower percentages.  I usually like something between 50 and 70% here.
  7. Adjust the size.  I usually use Proportional.  Fit makes the watermark stretch from one side of your image to another, with the entire mark visible.  Fill makes the watermark cover your entire photo, although it will probably be cropped.
  8. Adjust Inset after setting the Anchor (#9).  Depending on the anchor location, inset allows you to move the watermark closer or farther away from the edges of the photo.  You can’t adjust the inset for the center anchor, and you can only adjust it on one axis (either horizontal or vertical) for the top, bottom, left and right center locations.  The 4 corners allow you to adjust both vertically and horizontally.
  9. Choose the location anchor for this watermark.  This can’t be changed from photo to photo, so I recommend creating watermarks for various locations:  one for the center, one for the bottom left, another for the top right, etc.  This will let you choose the location you want for each photo, and you can work in batches if the watermark can be in the same location on every photo in the batch.

Finish by clicking the save button and naming the watermark descriptively, e.g. Studio Name Top Left Low Resolution.

I mostly frequently apply watermarks as part of the following processes in LR:

  • Exporting
  • Printing to paper (from the Print module)
  • Printing to JPG (another way to export, also located in the Print module)

You can also watermark your photos in the Slideshow and Web modules.

To apply the watermark, put a check in the watermark box where ever you see it, then choose the appropriate version from the drop down menu.

In your export dialog, it looks like this:

In your print module, you’ll see it on the right hand side in the Page panel.

Note that, just under the Page panel in the Print Job panel, you can choose whether to print to a JPG or a printer.  This is a handy way to export files that many people don’t know about!  And, if you use MCP’s Display It for Web templates, you can use this feature to export beautiful, internet ready collages in just minutes!


*For best results, choose a graphic whose resolution matches the final use of your photo.  For instance, if you are watermarking a photo to be printed, you’ll want to use a high resolution watermark.  And for images to be posted on the web, use a 72 pixel per inch graphic.  Yes, this means that you might need to save watermarks for each location on your photo in both high and low resolution versions.

Do you have Lightroom and Elements both?  If so, which software do you use for most of your watermarking?