How to Use a Watermark with Style {Building Your Brand Part 2}

March 18, 2013

in Amy Locurto, Photography Business Tips, Photography Tips, Photography Tutorials

Watermarks - How to Use Them with Style | Building Your Brand  | I Heart Faces Amy Locurto

Watermarks are a hot topic lately with the explosion of Pinterest and the latest Google Image Search changes. In my opinion as a blogger and photographer, anyone putting a photo online anywhere should use a watermark. Like everything you put out into the world, your watermark represents your brand. Use it with style.

Welcome to part 2 of Amy Locurto’s Building Your Brand Series! Check out part 1 here.

What is a watermark?

Watermarks - How to Use Them with Style | Building Your Brand  | I Heart Faces Amy Locurto

In photography, a watermark is a recognizable icon or text on a photo to identify the original owner or photographer.

Just because you have a watermark on a photo, doesn’t protect your image from someone taking it or from a client printing and framing it. But it can be a great way to let potential clients know who took the photo.

A watermark can make or break your brand.

If you have amazing photos, but a horrible watermark, all eyes will go to your ugly watermark first and your talent last.

Simple is best.

If your watermark is huge, busy and practically over someone’s face, do you really think your client will want to share that image with their friends? I have been told by several people that they would never show anyone the photos their photographer sent to them to share with friends because of the tacky watermark.

This is a great example of what a a famous photo would look like with an ugly watermark.

How NOT to use a Watermark. Afghan Girl by Steve McCurry. Watermark via PetaPixal.

Afghan Girl by Steve McCurry. Watermark experiment via PetaPixal.

A watermark is not the place to promote your logo.

You are promoting your brand through your photography, not your logo. Do you really think someone hires you based on your logo? My guess is they hire you based on you and your photography talent.

This goes back to last week’s branding tips, 4 Questions to Ask Yourself Before Branding Your Photography Business. Does your watermark match your brand? If you missed the first part of this tutorial series, and unsure about your brand, I highly suggest you bookmark this page and start at the beginning.


Three different ways to use a watermark with style.

1. Screen an image over the photo.

Watermarks - How to Use Them with Style | Building Your Brand  | I Heart Faces Amy Locurto
If you go with this style of watermark, be sure to size it appropriately. Think of placement as well. If you are putting a large watermark over the entire image because you are worried about someone stealing your photo, then you should think about registering the copyright before ever putting it online. Unfortunately, now with social media and photo sharing, the only way to fully protect a photo is to not put it online.

2. Use text only.

Dark Chocolate Brownies | Watermarks - How to Use Them with Style {Building Your Brand Part 2} by Amy Locurto for
Using text is my personal favorite way to use a watermark. I like to use my URL so people can find me online.


3. Add copyright information and website URL under the photo.

Watermarks - How to Use Them with Style | Building Your Brand  | I Heart Faces Amy Locurto

This is a great option for when you don’t have a good placement for a watermark or just can’t stand them in general. Sure someone can easily crop out this type of watermark, but anyone with good knowledge of Photoshop can do the same with a watermark on the photo.


How do you feel about watermarks on photos?


Amy Locurto from Living Locurto & I Heart FacesAmy Locurto, Co-Founder of I Heart Faces, is a graphic designer and entrepreneur. She publishes, a lifestyle blog focused on crafts and parties along with designing party collections in her shop, Printables by Amy.

Amy recently launched a new signature product line Party with Amy Locurto. Her collections include paper products and embellishments for parties, card making, crafts and scrapbooking.

Amy collaborates with companies on creative content, working with brands as Matthew Mead Productions, Michaels Stores, FedEx Office, Reader’s Digest, Disney, Parents Magazine, The Pioneer Woman, American Crafts, Best Buy and more.

Follow Amy on FacebookPinterestInstagram  and Twitter.


{ 16 comments… read them below or add one }

Linda December 22, 2015

I used to use my whole logo as my watermark, but I realized that it looked a bit tacky over the photo and distracted from the photo. Now, I just use text in two lines: my company name on the top line and my website underneath. I try to place the logo somewhere in the middle of the photo, so as it can’t be cropped out. However, I change the opacity so that it doesn’t totally stick out and distract from the photo.


Muskegon Photographer July 31, 2015

I’m always changing my watermark because people keep finding ways to steal my pictures and claim them as their own. People also get annoyed by me placing my watermark in the middle of the picture. I don’t think there’s a real solution to this problem.


Kathryn H. April 8, 2014

Amy, I recently had one of my photos taken by an acquaintance and given to a friend of theirs for the cover of a book… and I was NOT given any photo credit in the book . I got a pit in my stomach 🙁 That was the first time I realized I should but some kind of mark on my pictures with the Copyright symbol included. But I guess that won’t deter people from erasing it through software or just cropping the picture so it’s not there… I usually put it in the bottom corner so as to not ruin the image. Is that the proper placement or would you suggest it being put it closer to the image so it cannot be cropped out?


Ty Baka September 25, 2013

Thanks for the read! I like the looks of all three examples you showed; very classy, leaving a branding but not removing the image for the cute one with the bird… The second one looks almost more like a graphic for a blog post rather than something for a portfolio piece… but that’s definitely got it’s place! And the last one is very subtle and seems the least egotistical. It seems more like professional/company information (a copyright) rather than just your name stamped on it. I don’t know really what the difference is now that I think about it, hah…

I’ve been struggling pretty hard over whether to use a watermark or not… On one hand it almost always ruins the image & seems egotistical… on the other hand, how are people supposed to find you (the original source, to gain more similar content) once that picture starts circulating? It’s hard to decide…


Julie @ Family Blog Tips May 4, 2013

Wonderful reminders for all photographers, Amy! I will be sharing this with my blog readers. Adding your website URL to your blog photos is a great idea, especially since photos are not always linked correctly on Pinterest.


Dawn Whitmore March 27, 2013

I have started using my website on my pictures for the same reason you just mentioned….I want people to find me.

I realized my dew drop watermark doesn’t mean anything to anyone yet and doesn’t show them how to find me.

Thanks again for a great another great artcile.


Lisa @ Floating Along... March 19, 2013

I had never considered using a watermark on my photos because I am just a personal/life blogger – but recently have heard of similar stories to those in the comments above. Some of my friends have started watermarking their photos on their personal blogs which at first I thought was silly, but I might start doing it. Thanks for sharing this!
Floating Along


Alex March 19, 2013

Wow! These are great ideas… I have not thought about these things. Thanks to you, this is a great help!


lisacng @ March 18, 2013

I’m just a mom/blogger wanting to share my photos online so I place a watermark that has my blog name on it. I think it’s discreet but I am also lazy, so the watermark goes in the same place every time (I “programmed” that in LR). I don’t think my photos are worthy of stealing, so the watermarking is just to promote my blog and show-off my “logo” ;).


nest of posies March 18, 2013

this is such a great post. i hate the process of watermarking. i rather not do it at all, but i know i need to. i hate picking the fonts – etc. not my thing.

but your tips are so helpful, amy. thank you!


Amy Locurto March 18, 2013

Gina- I have had numerous images stolen, some sold on Etsy and even large companies using images of my client’s kids to sell their products on posters and products and even on large FB pages. That topic is a huge hassle and a whole other issue:-)

I have always used a watermark. It really won’t stop people from taking an image off of the internet for their pleasure. They will find designers to edit out the watermark if they want to use it for business. I hear more complaints lately from people who never hire photographers a second time because of their watermark being so huge and ugly. To the clients, it made the photographer look cheap. So I wrote this to help those starting out to think about their brand when using a watermark. Thanks!


Gina March 18, 2013

I am passionate about them. I used to put one nicely in a corner of the image. Then I had pics of my kids stolen off my blog & used to create a fake Facebook life for some crazy lady. Her name she was using was similar to my watermark of my business name so there it was completely visible & she still used them. I have also heard of people having their child’s image stolen by someone in another country & they put the kid’s face on t-shirts & were making a profit off a stolen image of her child. I also heard from someone who was chatting with a gal at a blogging conference. They were about to take a class talking about legal stuff in regards to blogging & the gal told her she was interested to know more about the legal stuff because she was a food blogger. However she would post her recipes & then instead of taking her own pictures of her food, she would find an image online that looked like what her recipe would turn out like & just take it & pass it off as her own. She obviously knew she was doing something wrong since she was interested in the legal part of it all & what she is doing. So now, for me, if it’s online it has my url & it spans across the image & it’s close to an important part of the image. It’s a bit obnoxious. I leave the watermark off when doing prints for clients. I have multiple copies of each processed image. The full size is without watermark. Any reduced size images that I know will be on the web in some way will always be watermarked. In my experience, most who are too lazy to learn how to take their own images are also too lazy to learn photoshop & use it to remove the watermark. So it’s important to have that watermark large & visible.


Amandalynn Jones March 18, 2013

Well said Amy!


Jenny March 18, 2013

Never really thought about this before, but then again I don’t do this for a living. I just don’t want people claiming my stuff xD I think I’ve used like 4-5 different ones, and they all sucked… but yea… great article 🙂


TPopoola March 18, 2013

I have been seeing a lot of these kinds of articles coming out recently. It seems the problem is getting even worse, smh. The thought of posting any photography online is becoming more and more frightening. Amazing the lengths people go through to swipe your pics. It may look ugly seeing big ole watermarks on remarkable photos but at the same time it makes me so sad to think of the reason why they went to such lengths to do so. I found another article that mentions a pretty cool way of watermarking. What they do is actually integrate their watermark into the image. Anyone can use a clone tool or heal spot in Photoshop to remove a watermark without really damaging the image but by integrating the watermark into the photo itself makes it harder to remove anything.


Sandra Ace March 18, 2013

Great article I always ummed and ahhed about using watermarks online but now i definitely will! 🙂


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