When I first started taking photography seriously (just over a year ago), protecting my photos online didn’t even cross my mind. I was excited if someone came to my blog and actually viewed one of my photos. Now, especially with Pinterest on the rise, I have been doing research on copyrighting photos and creating watermarks.
A Quick Copyright Lesson
Did you know that your photos are automatically copyrighted? That’s right. Thanks to the Berne Convention, you don’t need to put a “©” on your photos or have a unique watermark. You also don’t have to officially register them with them government in order to own your work. (Some people decide to register their copyrighted photos, because if they are stolen it’s easier to retrieve damages in court.) For more info, check out this article from Photosecrets.com.
Why Create A Watermark If You Don’t Have To?
Creating a watermark, or some sort of signature, for your photos will help others easily identify who owns them. This point is becoming even more important with Pinterest, because photos are being pinned, liked, and repinned, often without the source noted. I also believe having some sort of watermark deters viewers from using the photo for their own use. Lastly, “signing” your photos is a stamp of approval…from you. It shows that you spent time and effort putting your best into your work.
How To Create A Watermark Using Photoshop
I have created two different watermarks for my photos: an image and a signature. Below are a few quick steps for creating each in Photoshop.
1. Choose an image that represents you
This past Christmas, Misfit Mom gave both myself and Misfit Sister (aka Disney Fan in Colorado) rubber stamps with our blog names on them. I rarely print my photos, but luckily Misfit Mom had the proof for my rubber stamp in digital form. Here’s what it looks like:
2. Convert it to black and white
My watermark image came in black and white so I didn’t need this step. However, in order to create a Photoshop brush with your watermark, it must be black and white. Once it’s translated into a brush, everything white will become transparent and everything black will be whatever color you choose to “paint.” If your background is not completely white, you will see a haziness in your watermark. So, you may need to do some additional editing to remove any noise from the background.
3. Create a custom brush in Photoshop
Once your image is converted to black and white, click “Edit” and then choose “Define Brush Preset.” Name the brush whatever makes the most sense to you. (I titled mine watermark) and hit ok.
4. Find your custom brush
Open a photo you would like to watermark and click on the brush tool. Using the top toolbar, search for your brush by clicking on the drop down arrow next to the word “brush.” Your watermark will likely be the last brush in your list. Change the master diameter of the brush to fit the area you will be watermarking.
5. Pick a color for your watermark
For color, I use the eye dropper tool and choose a color found somewhere in the photo. In my example below, I chose a lighter color since I was placing my watermark on the lower left corner of the image. You can play around with the opacity of the brush to get the effect you want. I don’t like bold watermarks, so I chose an opacity of about 40%.
Variation: Your Signature
Sometimes an image, like the one I used above, can add too much distraction to a photo. Especially when the image already has a lot of detail. So, I created a second watermark using my signature. I started out by writing my signature on a white piece of paper. I used a black marker, so I wouldn’t have to work about adjusting the color later. Then I used my point and shoot camera to take a picture.
Next, I cropped the image to the signature I liked best. Since I used a flash in the photo above, the cropped version of my photo had a little noise in the white background. To eliminate the noise, I used “Levels” to even out the white.
Finally, I followed steps 3-5 from above and ended up with this (bottom right):
Moving forward, I will be using one of these two watermarks for all my photos.
What about you? Do you watermark your photos?