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Marking your work – watermarking vs. branding

With the ease of online sharing, photographers are hot on protecting their work online and you rarely see images from photographers without some sort of marking.

So there are two functions for marking your images. You need to decide if you want to watermark for protection or brand your images for advertisement.


The image above shows you an example of watermarking on an image. Watermarking is where you place a mark on your image to protect it from being swiped for illegal use online or printing without a release. To successfully protect your image with watermarking, sadly, the watermark needs to basically ruin your image so that it can’t be of use for printing. Your watermark should cross over important areas of your image like the subject’s face. Now, where there’s a will, there’s a way. In the image above, it wouldn’t be difficult to remove the watermark with Photoshop.

Some ways you can watermark in Photoshop are:

  • Use your logo to create a brush which you can add to your images with one click. See this video for how I made mine.
  • You can copy/paste your logo file onto the image and change the opacity if you want it to be transparent.
  • You can simply type something like ‘do not copy’ onto the image. If you want to make a copyright symbol, you can copy/paste this one —> ©
  • You can use MCP Actions’ FREE action ‘Facebook Fix’ to resize your images for use online. Part of the action allows you to select your logo file to use as a watermark or you can add the copyright symbol with one click.

How you can watermark in Lightroom:

  • When you export your images, choose the size you want to export the files as and there’s also an area where you can add a watermark to a specific area of your images like bottom-right, middle center, middle top, etc. This is my preferred method when exporting a large number of images for a preview gallery.


Branding is different from watermarking in that:

  • It doesn’t necessarily function as a protection for your images
  • It isn’t meant to compromise the aesthetics of your image, but add to it
  • It is for advertising purposes

I like to use branded images in web sharing and never brand my images for printing. Sometimes I get emails asking how big your logo should be on someone’s print and I’m like “what?!” I never do that. Sometimes, I sign the corner of my work for fine art prints or something special, but I don’t add a digital branding.

Like you will see to the right, I like to place my brand in a location where the subject is interacting with it, particularly when I want the image to serve the purpose of marketing. I like the subject to be highlighting my business name, not the other way around. So this means that I also take this into consideration when choosing which images I will use to advertise my business online. I want an image that can be branded nicely. So in the example on the right, you’ll see that she’s actually looking at my business name/branding and I’ve placed it in a nice open space where it fits well.

I would recommend using your whole business name, not just your logo. And even better, use branding that includes your URL.

So how can you add your brand to your images?

  • The exact same ways outlined above!
  • Be aware that if you use a brush like mentioned above in the watermarking section, then it will be only one colour. If that is a problem, I would recommend just copy/pasting it on like you see in the image on the right –>

As with anything, weigh the pros and cons and mark your images in a way that sits well with you. Or don’t mark them at all! Anything goes :)

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  • Shannon

    If it’s digital files that were bought for use on social media like facebook I brand them with my logo and url.  If I’m using them on my website I don’t like to have anything on them because a lot of people have thought that the watermark is going to be on their final image, I resize them so that they’ll just fall apart if you try to snag them.  I never, ever put anything on a print image.

    Thanks for your take on it all :)

  • Rhondaelderphotography

    Here’s another way to add the copyright symbol:

  • http://www.lomophotographyinfo.com/ James B.

    Good article I never really knew the difference between branding and watermarking, my logos are set everytime I export from lightroom

  • http://profiles.google.com/rjsdad98 Scott ONeal

    Great article!  Answered a question I’ve had for quite a while. . . branding vs. watermarking!  Sweet :~}

  • Robin

    Branding looks much nicer, but adds no protection and there are too many people who take advantage of the electronic media and lift their images for print.  Some don’t even care if it is watermarked and will print them on their own computers.  I would love to see how you can brand and protect all at once.  That would be genius.