How to add a watermark in Lightroom 5 and CC

Watermark lesson header

As many of you may consider this as an essential part of your workflow in Lightroom, then it’s time to teach how to actually add a watermark to your pictures. But if you are rather new to this fascinating world of digital photography you may ask yourself: “is it really important to add a watermark to the pictures I upload?”. The answer is YES. It is really important for this two reasons

  1. It is your work, your time, your effort. You don’t want people to “steal” your job for other sites, mostly if you upload the images to rather important websites or if you enter a contest. Keep in mind another way to go is to restrict downloading attributes for your images, as sites like Flickr and 500px offer their users for preventing fraudsters to steal the high quality file.
  2. Advertisement. Some people may say after looking at your photos: “great job, who took it?”; that is where advertisement comes along with the watermark. It can be your personal logo, your name, whatever you like and that can “sell” your brand.

So then again, this is all up to you. Some people find annoying the use of watermarks, for others, there are vital methods for dragging users to take a look at your website (mostly if you are just starting as a professional photographer).

Considerations prior adding a watermark

As we are part of this big world of digital arts… design matters. It is not the same look to add a watermark made with Comic Sans type (please lord, DON’T do that) as a well-designed logo.

Not only because it will give your watchers the impression that you are a keen professional who took the time to make an interesting looking portfolio, but also is part of the composition of your image.

Colour matters. If you want to add a rainbow-themed watermark it is your choice. But elegant watermarks are in general monochrome, mostly white based. And this is not just putting a watermark somewhere in the picture; it has to be done where you don’t drag the focus of your image, and with the proper size for performing the job it’s made for the watermark.

Getting started – Watermark creation


Lightroom has two modes of Watermarks: Text and Graphic Watermarks. But for applying them, we have first to configure watermarks. So, now we go, after entering in our library, to:

Edit>Edit Watermarks


And we find then this dialogue window (if it doesn’t show any image at the preview window we have to select a picture prior opening the Edit Watermarks properties), with some options for adjusting and creating our watermark.


You can pick up from every font you have installed at your PC. Also keep in mind which colour you are going to use, mostly for visibility and not dragging too much attention

The default mode is Text; where here you can write whatever you want, also change the colour of the text, font or even set if you want it to cast shadows.
Alignment option works only for when you have a multiple line text; it does not change the position of the watermark in relation to the photo.

At size, you can adjust the size of the text watermark (same for graphic watermarks) as well as its position with the Inset panel option. Don’t make the classic beginner’s mistake of making a huge watermark with reduced opacity all over your picture – it isn’t professional looking and there are better methods for protecting your work if you are so concerned about it.


Fit will make the watermark to occupy the whole width of the photo, whereas Fill will make the graphic watermark appear full-sized as you upload the logo

But what makes text watermarks different than graphic ones?. For creating graphic watermark we have to set the option to graphic, then Lightroom will ask us for locating the image file we want to use.


(Try to use PNG images, for the transparency issue)

After selecting it you will notice that text parameters are now faded. You can’t use them for graphic watermarks, so forget about using both kinds of watermarks at the same time.


Only Size, Inset, and Anchor matters for graphic watermarks

Adding the watermark to the photo

For applying the watermark you have to select the images you want to add watermark to, then hit right click and at the options panel Export>Export.

Now, this is the tricky part. As we don’t have a specific tool that can create those watermarks inside Lightroom it is so easy to pass up the inferior panels at the dialogue box.
We have to reach to almost the bottom of it and tick the Watermark box, then clicking the filled bar for choosing our intended watermark to use.


If you have forgotten something on your watermark or you realize something is not right, you can also make changes from here using “Edit Watermarks…”

Keep on and Lightroom will export every file you created with a watermark on it. It’s advisable to close other software running on background as Lightroom can take a considerable time for exporting files and, under older versions, it’s prone to crash if it rans out of RAM.

Lightroom CC vs 5.5

As for the new version of Lightroom, there are no major changes in the procedure for applying watermarks. It is basically the same. Changes between versions were more focused on improving tools that we had. Of course that if you are adding watermarks to a huge selection of images, Lightroom CC will go faster considering that it is a 64-bit version of the program, with no RAM limit – same rule applies for the new Lightroom 6.

To sum up

As you can see, it is a pretty simple process. Watermarks are stored as presets, so if a friend of yours designed a graphic watermark and you want to use it, is just copying-pasting the file to the location of Lightroom presets.

For a more faded look of the watermark, play with the Opacity panel option. Values close to 100 are full visible whereas values nearby 0 are absolutely transparent.

It is a wise idea to create several watermarks that we can apply in different situations, but please try to do this before you engage yourself with a big work. Time is gold in digital arts, and wasting it because you can’t find the location of the image file for creating the watermark is not the idea. Lightroom gives us those advantages for optimizing our workflow, so better get accustomed to using them.

For Mac versions of Lightroom, you won’t find the edit watermarks option inside the Edit menu; it is located at the Lightroom tab, and the rest of the procedure is exactly the same.

Good luck!

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