Friday, June 5, 2015

Making Money from Mobile Photography Updated

Mobile photography maybe a buzzword of sorts now but making money out of it seems to be fair game since the quality of the cameras on smartphones have improved exponentially over time. The same can't be said of DSLR which are getting more expensive to own.

I have previously written about making money on mobile photos, here. So here is an update to those who feel that they may have a shot at this.

To begin with, the stock image library market is a finite one. This means the pie is the same while prices are getting cheaper and cheaper for those who wish to buy them. This doesn't make sense for people who want to turn professional with a smartphone camera in tow.

However if you wish to make some money on the side, you can. Here are the updated mobile apps that offer some hope to earn you some beer money.


German based MetaFoto has an app that lets you capture pictures to waiting buyers. These buyers are sometimes location based so therefore unless you live in Europe or are going there soon enough, you may want to consider some of their missions. 

They don't pay much...and these are sold for about €1.00 per photo. Sorry but if you think that your picture is worth far much more than €1.00 well you out of luck. All images are royalty free, and if you have people in them, I would ask you to be very careful about submitting them as they will get ignored instead of rejected. 

Payment is 50 percent of the selling price and payment is wired to you through a PayPal account. 


Another German startup that offers you a little more. Picsastock offers both mobile and DSLR photographers a chance to sell their images through their site but how they get sold gets a bit complicated as buyers have to buy credits for a subscription to download photos. Every month, buyers are charged automatically base on a subscription model and those credits will be used to redeem a download. One credit allows you one download....for web use. Buyers need an extended license to download larger sizes of the same pictures for use in print. 

Picsastock also caters to models, so if you are a model, all your selfie photos can be sold online if they fit the mission criteria. 

Photographers on the other hand have to supply model releases when they submit photos with recognizable faces in them. Like any image bank, you can also build up a portfolio of your professional work to show off online (for free instead of ante up on Photoshelter) and get hired on a freelance basis when a buyer is in need of something that you are good at. 


American based startup Snapwire is very similar to Picsastock with support for both mobile and DSLR photographers. You can submit photos stored on your computer or even Flickr with a convenient web upload. 

It has missions for you to fulfill, some which pay a lot better than the Alsatians. Pictures larger than 5 megapixels can get sold for global use for upto 500 bucks! 

Like Picsastock, you can also get hired by buyers to shoot a particular type of photos as a freelance photographer. Like all stock agencies, you need model releases if you have human faces on them. 

Snapwire's app functions like a portfolio as well since you can upload all your best shots for all to see. For images sold from your portfolio, you get a 50 percent cut of the retail price while for special request from buyers, you get up to 70 percent of the retail price. So whatever camera you use, you will be aware if the buyer is only interested in web or print photos based on the sizes sold. 

The Road to Royalty Free

All photos sold here are under royalty free licensing, even though they could be commissioned by a buyer. As I have said before, the image library market is a race to the bottom in terms of pricing. Why hire a photographer to fly way round the world, pay his expenses and get that one photo? It would be much easier to hire a photographer from where he or she is living and having it all for just a few dollars. 

Microstock image agencies like Scoopshot, Clashshot, and even Snapwire are hoping to bring down the cost of using photos by outsourcing client requirements.

I am not taking sides here but some stock photo agencies are a pain to deal with. My recent encounter with to sell my photos came out with all sort of release did you take this photo with a photographer's pass because it was in a concert....if so can you supply that as proof. Even taking photos around urban areas would require some sort of property release which makes it a real hassle. Look, I don't take photos professionally because the pay sucks. I do take them in my free time and if someone wants them, I would gladly make some beer money for myself. For the poor sod who buys loads of equipment and lenses hoping to make a buck....well good luck to you.

In the end, buyers will prefer royalty free because the world at large has to deal with the billions of photos posted online everyday by casual shooters who just like spending time on it as a hobby. Some of these photos could just be what they were looking for.

And don't think for one moment that those instagram photos are worth anything. Remember Instastock photos, the start up in 2013 which wanted to monetize Instagram images for you? They bought the farm and gone to roost in the great beyond now. How many more of these microstock agencies will fall on the wayside is anyone's best guess. For now. Let's hope the good ones stay while the bad ones fade away like a bad dream. 


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