How to watermark multiple photos in Lightroom

Protect your photos and promote your services at the same time.

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Lesa Snider

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Watermarking your photos is a fantastic branding opportunity. It can also deter photo theft, and including your URL in the watermark ensures anyone who sees the image online can easily find you and book a session.

Lightroom users can create graphic or text-based watermarks quickly and easily, though in Photoshop it takes far more effort. This column teaches you how to make a simple text-based watermark in Lightroom and apply it using the Export command.

Creating a watermark

To create a watermark, choose Lightroom > Edit Watermarks. In the resulting dialog box, turn on Text. In the field below the image, enter some text and be sure to include your URL. To copyright the photo, add a copyright symbol by pressing Option+G and then enter the year you took the photo followed by your URL.

Next, use the settings in the Text Options panel to format the text (you don’t even have to highlight it first). Turn on Shadow so the watermark can still be read if it lands atop a white background.

In the Watermark Effects panel, set Opacity to around 70. Choose Proportional in the Size section and use the slider to pick a size (say, 12). The Proportional option instructs Lightroom to resize the watermark so it looks the same no matter what dimensions you export the photo at.

Scoot the watermark away from the edges of the photo by entering 3 into the Horizontal and Vertical fields in the Inset section, and then use the Anchor icon to position the watermark wherever you want. If you’d like, use the Rotate buttons to swing the watermark around so it runs up the side of your photo.

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Click Save and in the resulting dialog box, enter a descriptive name, such as “2016 12pt BR” and click Create. From this point forward, your watermark preset is available in the Slideshow, Print, and Web modules, as well as the Export dialog box, which is discussed next.

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Here the watermark name includes point size and location—BR for bottom right.

Exporting photos

When you use the Export command, Lightroom generates a copy of the photo(s) with all your edits intact. You can use it to rename, resize, change file format (say, from raw to JPEG), sharpen, and add a watermark to photos en masse. To do that, select several thumbnails by Shift or Command-clicking them and then choose File > Export or, if you’re in the Library module, click the Export button at lower left.

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In the dialog box that opens, expand the Export Location section of the dialog by clicking its title bar and then choose where you want the exported photos to go. Turn off “Add to is Catalog” to keep Lightroom from importing the exported copies into your catalog (the master file is already in your catalog, from which you can output other copies). Set the Existing Files menu to “Ask what to do.”

In the File Naming section, turn on Rename To and pick the filename convention you want to use from the menu to its right or leave the name(s) as is. In the File Settings section, choose JPEG from the Image Format menu and, if you’re exporting high-quality files for your client or submitting them to an online printing or stock photography service, set Quality to 100; otherwise, set Quality to 80. Pick sRGB from the Color Space menu (it’s the Internet standard) and the one used at most printing services.

If you want to resize the image, expand the Image Sizing section and turn on Resize to Fit. A handy option here is Long Edge, as it lets you resize both landscape and portrait oriented images at the same size. If the image is bound for the web, set the measurement field to Pixels and enter 800 to export an image that is 800 pixels wide on its longest edge, whether that’s height or width, and then leave Resolution at its default value. If you’re preparing photos for print, preserve the photo’s pixel count by leaving Resize to Fit turned off and then enter a resolution that’s best for your printer—300 pixels per inch (ppi) is adequate for most desktop inkjet printers and online printing labs. That said, if you’re preparing photos for inclusion in National Geographic magazine, ask them what resolution is best to use. When you’re exporting images for online use, resolution doesn’t matter because it refers to the number of pixels per printed inch.

In the Output Sharpening section, turn on Sharpen For and choose Screen from the menu to its right and then set the Amount menu to Standard. When you resize a photo, it becomes a little less sharp, so extra sharpening is a good thing. When exporting a photo for print, choose either Sharpen For > Matte Paper or Sharpen For > Glossy Paper, depending on the kind of paper you’ll use.

In the Metadata section, choose Copyright & Contact Info Only from the Include menu. In the Watermarking section, turn on Watermark and pick the watermark you made from the menu. In the Post-Processing section, choose “Show in Finder” to have Lightroom open the location of the exported files when the export is complete. If you’ll use these settings again, click Add at the bottom of the Preset column to save them as a preset. Last but not least, click Export and Lightroom prepares your photos—you don’t even have to wait until it’s finished to do something else because exporting takes place in the background.

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As you can see, it’s a snap to watermark photos in Lightroom. Until the next time, may the creative force be with you all!

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