What do you do when you are an award winning photographer who has risked life and limb to bring images to the world and then found them reproduced without credit?
If you are Irishman John D McHugh you create an app for it.
Marksta allows iPhone users to easily, watermark and frame their photos in an unobtrusive manner that allows their re-use with subtle accreditation.
The app was developed because McHugh said he was not trying to "fight what can’t be fought". Realising that good images get used, particularly in social media, McHugh simply wanted to ensure that people whose images were re-used could have them credited in a way that did not take from their appeal.
"I developed the Marksta app because I was sick and tired of people stealing my work on the Web," said McHugh. "I often work in incredibly dangerous situations to show the world the stark realities of war and revolution. I can’t describe how frustrating it is to find my images online without any credit or by-line."
McHugh regularly works in Afghanistan, where his work documenting the experiences of the security forces and ordinary people has been featured by the Guardian, Channel 4, Al Jazeera, the International Herald Tribune, Newsweek and more. He has also worked in Iraq, Sudan and Bahrain.
"Rather than fight what can’t be fought, I’ve tried to adapt my thinking to the cold hard reality that as soon as I post a photograph online it will be copied, shared, and posted around the world. If I want people to know its mine, whether for payment or just kudos, I see no way other than to write my name on it. I know watermarked images have in the past been seen as unacceptable by the newspapers and magazines, but losing my entire career is just as unacceptable to me."
Realising that keen amateurs, semi-pros and professionals alike had need of a way to retain a certain level of control of images but without detracting from the image, McHugh applied his knowledge of image processing to the functionality in the app.
Using Marksta, users can add names, Twitter handles or whatever they desire directly to images from their iPhone before you sharing.
The map allows users to change fonts, colour, opacity, and position of text applied to images, while being able to see effects on the photograph in real time. Parallel lines, crossing lines, and reverse text all allow the user to make it impractical to remove the information on the image.
Frames, borders, drop shadows and a range of font and text options are available to ensure that images that are marked remain so. These options can then be saved as templates for future use.
Marksta is currently available for iPhones from the 3Gs up to the iPhone 5 and the iPod Touch third to fifth generation. The iPad version is in the final stages of development.
Marksta is available on iTunes for €1.79