Photography Copyright and Light Room Watermarks

Hope everyone had a wonderful Mother’s Day weekend last weekend.  I went home to visit my parents last Sunday.  While they were still in church I got a chance to go through my mom’s gardens and take some shots of her spring flowers.  Love this time of year back home.  Even got some shots of their pig.  They live out in the country the nearest town is 6 miles with a population of 275 people.  The closest thing to a city near them with 10,000+ people is 20+ miles away where you can do your grocery shopping, and cloths shopping.  Thought I would throw in some pictures from my visit before we get to today’s topic.

Copyright Law

So, on today’s topic of Photography copyrights I am going to briefly discuss the copyright law.  I have found that a lot of people do not know that as soon as you take the photograph that photography is your property and automatically protected by copyright law.   A copyright for photographers means that you own the property.  With this ownership, you have certain rights to that property.  The ownership rights include:

  • Reproducing the photograph
  • Create other works based upon the photograph
  • The right to distribute copies of the photograph for public sale or transferring the ownership, or by rental, lease, or lending the image to others for use.
  • The right to display the photograph public

The above information was found in the U.S. Copyright Act at 17 U.S.C 106.  You should still consider registering your photo for copyright as this would allow for more protection of the image.

The only exception for an image copyright is when the image falls into the “Work-made-for-hire” category.  In order to meet this category, the photograph must fall within one of the two situations.   Situation one the photographer is hired to take photographs for the employer such as an employee of a newspaper, magazine etc.  Please note that Portrait and wedding photography do not fall into this situation.  The second situation is a photographer that is hired to provide photographs for a collection of works or compilations.  Typically, the photographer would sign a written agreement that states the work is considered work for hire.

The best thing to do if you have any questions at all on copyright infringement is to discuss this with a lawyer.  You do not want to go at this alone and they would have the best recommendations on how to proceed.  Be it to request the image be removed, go after damages through court, or ask for credit to be added to the image with a link back to your page.

Photograph Watermarks

Now I see a lot of questions on Facebook requesting instructions on how to add a watermark.  I use Lightroom for most of my editing as I only have to do small adjustments when I can then select for multiple photos.  I have not used Photoshop for my watermarking as I typically place the watermark in the lower right hand corner of the image for all images.   I always export the images twice.  One with the watermark to use on Facebook and this blog and the other copy without the watermark to be used for sales.

  1. You will want to import your images to Adobe Lightroom and make all adjustments you wish to make.
  2. After all the adjustments have been made click on the “Library” tab in Lightroom. step2LibraryTab
  3. Press “Ctrl+A” to select all the available images.  This way you can export all of them at the same time and have the watermark added.
  4. Click the “Export” button.
  5.  On the pop-up scroll down to the “Watermarking” section and select the checkbox next to the “Watermark” field.  Watermarkcheckbox
  6. If you have not setup a watermark click “Edit Watermarks” from the dropdown menu next to the “Watermark:” checkbox.
  7. From here you can choose the “Watermark Style” of either a “Text” or “Graphic”.  If you use the graphic option you will want to use an image that has an invisible background around the text you want to display so that the image can be seen.  For these instructions, we are going to continue with the option of “Text”.
  8. In the box below the image you can insert the text you want to display.  If the copyright symbol is not included you can insert the symbol in a word document and copy it and then paste it into the box.  This box gives you a little bit of free range with the layout of your copyright.  Watermarkeditor
  9. Using the options on the right-hand side of the Watermark Editor you can change the font, the style of the font, the alignment and color.  You can also add a shadow, change the opacity, the size, how it is inserted and where it is anchored.  Once you have the watermark the way you want it to display click “Done”.
  10. Click the “Export” button and let the system add the water mark to all the edited images.  Once I am done I go back in and uncheck the watermark box and upload them to a different folder so I keep my watermarked images and my non-watermarked images separate. I sometimes do a QA on my images and open a couple of the watermarked ones to make sure they have the watermark on them.  I don’t trust technology.  LOL.

When adding a watermark to your images with the copyright notice on your photos it may stop someone from stealing your photographs, because it will serve as a remind that the work is protected, or because the notice interferes with the use when it is part of the photo.  It also helps to add a copyright to your photos as the infringer cannot say the use was innocent and this also allows you to to be eligible for damages if your notice is removed to hide an infringement.  You may use the copyright notice without registering your work with the U.S. Copyright office but by registering your work you may have more protection as it can help weaken any claim from someone else for your image.  However, at around $35.00 a photo a lot of photographers starting out don’t have the money to do this.

If you need any additional help with the watermarks or if something in my instructions do not make sense.  Please reach out to me.  I would love to help as much as I can.

So, after reading this I hope you consider watermarking your images.  I would hate for you to get into a situation where this could have helped.  If anyone has any experience in registering their photos with the US Copyright I would love to discuss the pros and cons you have found in the process or if it is even worth doing when you are first starting out.  Also, I would love to hear from people who do use watermarks and where you like placing your images.  For me the placement in the bottom has a less chance of interfering with the image but also has a higher chance of getting cropped out of the image.




4 thoughts on “Photography Copyright and Light Room Watermarks”

    1. Welcome. I felt that I needed to get that out for people. I have seen people on facebook steal photos and say they were their own. Had a friend do that to my Aunts Pictures. Not sure if they didn’t realize I was related to them or not. I was not a happy camper. This is something I am very passionate about. You work hard for your shots and people should not take credit for them.

      Liked by 1 person

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