Don't Need a Fancy Camera? Sell Photos Taken with Your Phone (Beginner's Guide 2024)

03/30/2024 12:00 AM by Admin in Make money

Smartphone Snaps to Serious Sales: Sell Phone Photos Online


1. Introduction

When he decides to take pictures with no intent to store them personally, the smartphone photographer is confronted with the age-old query: what to do with the excess photos? As an artist it is of course possible to submit these images to galleries or fora, however this task can be tedious, competitive and yield no financial returns. For the smartphone photographer who is interested in selling his photos, the newer era of phone photography comes into play. This is the era characterized by software applications, memory saving and higher image quality and it represents a hidden but robust niche in the modern stock photography market.

Contrary to conventional thinking, selling phone photos online is a venture that has considerable potential. It is true that memories of the camera phone of the mid-2000s are not particularly sanguine, as they were equipped with basic VGA (0.3 megapixel) cameras that took poor quality images and usually had no cohesive manner for storing these images. More egregiously, the practice of sending these images to friends' phones for use as wallpaper or caller ID graphics often resulted in additional charges that were appended to the phone user's bill. This era of smartphone photography left much to be desired. However, continuing advancements in software applications have made modern smartphone cameras into veritable photo machines at virtually no extra cost to the consumer. This is due to the fact that, unlike the earlier camera phones, smartphones save images directly to the device memory, meaning that there are no costs for sending or storing images. The result is that consumer with a smartphone plan and an included image option is receiving a very useful and low-cost image function for no extra charge.

Smartphone photography is the latest twist on a concept that began with simple film cameras, which were in time replaced by myriads of digital pocket cameras. These point-and-shoot devices, which were adopted by everyone from the adolescent with the after-school job to purchase a $7 model to the suburban soccer mom who drops $300 on the latest Canon, were lauded for their convenience and the quality of images they produced. Their high tech features such as memory cards and auto focus replaced the old ritual of camera film and the sometimes unpredictable process of developing the picture. The latest effort in the simplification of photo taking comes with the rise of the smartphone and the rather sudden realization by retailers that cell phone photos both old and new are rather marketable commodities, provided that the right audience can be found.

1.1 What is smartphone photography?

The term 'smartphone photography' has only come into common usage very recently with the influx of current generations of mobile phones which have inbuilt cameras. For a long while, mobile devices were simply not advanced enough to produce images of any worthwhile quality. The introduction of the camera phone has had a dramatic effect on the world of photography as it has opened up the field to a whole new range of people. For many of us, mobile devices are an everyday accessory so it's inevitable that at some point, one will use its camera to capture an image. Whether it is to capture a rare event occurring which one does not have a dedicated camera for, or to simply capture something of interest while they are out and about. Smartphone photography as it stands occurs at impromptu moments and is generally an informal practice. The cameras in smartphones in current times are of a very high quality and for some people it is their only means of photographing. The obvious advantage of such a camera is that it eliminates the need to carry a separate device for photography and also eliminates the need to transfer images to a computer for editing and manipulation. Smartphone cameras also offer the ability to instantly upload images to the internet from anywhere with a data connection. This has seen the emergence of various social networking and image hosting websites that people regularly update with smartphone images. Some people even go as far as to only capture images for the purpose of displaying them on the internet.

1.2 The potential of selling phone photos online

Potential of selling phone photos online. Selling photographs has been a popular pastime since the invention of the camera. People have always loved to take photographs and more often than not they wish to share them with others. With the advent of modern digital cameras, photography has become easier and more widespread. In particular, smartphones have allowed photography to go entirely mobile. A mobile phone user can take pictures anywhere, any time, and within seconds have them available to share with friends, family, and potentially millions of other people. The ease of modern phone photography has spawned an entire new industry in mobile phone photography. Websites such as Instagram and Flickr have large user bases where people can easily upload and share their photos with others. But what if someone wants to do more than just share their photos? What if someone is actually interested in making money with their mobile phone pictures? Some people might say that's impossible, after all, the quality of a camera phone is not on par with that of a digital camera. However, the disparity in quality is not as significant as it once was. Modern smartphones often include very high-quality cameras built into their systems. Nokia's PureView camera system was a particularly high point, and the most recent iPhone cameras have been lauded for their quality. Furthermore, technology has come a long way in making photographs more easily fixable when something goes wrong. Adobe Photoshop may still be the king of photo manipulation; however, there are many easier-to-use and more portable applications for phone photography. With the right software, a picture that might have been blurry or too dark can become very presentable. It should also be noted that not all mobile photography is about using the phone as a camera. There is also a huge market for mobile photo and video content, such as in Android apps and various programs/games which might need a specific visual product. This kind of work is often contracted out to artists and can be much more profitable than sharing photos on social media. Overall, the potential for making money with mobile photography is definitely there.

1.3 Benefits of using a smartphone for photography

The range of devices that fall under the umbrella of "smartphone" is vast, but they all share the common benefit of being highly portable. The best camera is the one that you have with you, and if your phone is always on you, camera in hand, then you're far more likely to capture those spontaneous moments in life. Street photography is all about timing and capturing those obscure moments that only happen once. With a portable camera, you will be the first to react to the unexpected, and while DSLR purists are still arguing about what settings they should be using, you'll have already nailed the shot and be halfway home. Another key benefit is that smartphone photography is often seen as less intrusive. People are generally fine with a photo being taken on a phone, as they assume it's just going to be shared amongst friends or used to document a moment, whereas DSLRs are associated with professional work and make the subject more wary, often with unwelcome consequences to the image. For example, a street portrait taken on a smartphone may be accepted and welcomed, while the same shot taken with a DSLR may be met with suspicion and reluctance.

2. Getting Started

Choosing the right smartphone for photography is essential because even though photography is based on the skill of the photographer, the quality of the camera is a contribution to the quality and appeal of your photographs. Photographs are essentially made up of patterns of light, and brighter light will give you better photographs because more light will reach the film. Digital cameras have an auto exposure sensor, which will automatically select an aperture and shutter speed to suit the available light. The important point here is selecting a camera with an actual manual override; many cheaper models don't give you this option. Smartphone cameras are generally quite good these days, but the more advanced models will give you the option to manually select the exposure, allowing for greater creative control. Essentially, iPhones and many higher end Android phones are suitable for taking good photographs, but if you're serious about it, a higher end Android such as a Samsung Galaxy S series or even an actual digital camera with wifi capabilities to transfer the photos to your phone for editing and uploading, would be a substantial investment. As well as the smartphone itself, there are a number of attachments that you can purchase to use in conjunction with the camera. Smartphone camera lens attachments are generally quite cheap and can give you some surprising results. There are a large variety of different types, from wide angle to fish eye, and although the quality is generally not on par with the built-in lens, they can add an interesting element to your photography. Off-camera lighting devices such as LED panels can be used to add more light to your subject, and are essential for good quality indoor or night photography. Tripods and phone mounts are another option and are essential for any long exposure photography, night photography or if you wish to be in the photo yourself.

2.1 Choosing the right smartphone for photography

When considering a phone to use as a photography tool, the quality of the camera is, of course, the most important element. The first step here should be to think about what you want from your images. If you intend just to make small, digital images for emailing and web use, many of today's camera phones would suffice. However, if your intention is to someday print your images, aim for at least a three megapixel camera phone. This will produce an image good enough for prints up to 4x6. For those with semi-serious photography intentions, or who are not quite ready to make the jump to a DSLR, a good quality camera phone can be a versatile tool to aid development of photographic eye. With a high quality camera phone, one can access many of the same manual functions found on a DSLR. There are a number of apps available which can give camera phones manual functions such as shutter speed, ISO settings and manual focusing. Although the image quality will not match that of a DSLR, these functions will help beginners better understand the workings of a camera. Camera phone photography often best suits documentary or street photography, given the lack of set up time it requires. For these genres, a camera phone is all that is needed.

2.2 Essential phone photography accessories

Photo editing apps often offer a limited range of image enhancement features, but shooting with a mobile lens can truly transform your mobile photos. There is a wide variety of specialty mobile camera lenses available. A few examples include Fisheye, Macro, Telephoto and Wide-Angle lenses. Lenses are often sold in a set of two or more and can be attached directly to the smartphone or a separate mount. Lenses are an exciting accessory that can take your smartphone photography to the next level.

An extra battery pack is almost a necessity for the smartphone photographer that is constantly using their phone and camera. The last thing you want when out on a photo adventure is for your battery to run out leaving you with no phone or camera. Extra battery packs are small and lightweight and can be a lifesaver in desperate situations.

If you plan to shoot video with your smartphone, a microphone is a necessary accessory. The quality of sound in a video is as important, if not more important than the actual image. Most built-in smartphone microphones do not capture high quality sound. An external microphone that plugs directly into your smartphone will allow you to capture a sound that is in line with the high quality of your image.

A sturdy tripod or smartphone mount is an essential tool for any serious photographer. Tripods are particularly useful in low light situations where stabilization is crucial for capturing a clear shot. Tripods are also helpful for the self-portrait artist capturing their own image. There are many smartphone tripods/mounts on the market that are portable and flexible for infinite camera angles.

2.3 Understanding the basics of composition

The second tip for beginners is to simplify the scene. It is common for beginners to try to get too much into their images, which can often make them busy or confusing. Upon finding a subject, the photographer should stop and think about the best way to compose the image in terms of excluding everything but the essential. Depending on the situation, the photographer may consider getting closer or using a longer focal length. An image's background can also ruin a shot by distracting the eye away from the subject, so it is often best to keep it simple.

Composition refers to the way the various elements in a scene are arranged within the frame. At first, you begin using the Rule of Thirds. The idea is to imagine breaking an image down into thirds both horizontally and vertically so that you have 9 parts. The theory is that you would place the important elements in your scene along these lines, or at the points where they intersect. Rather than placing the horizon line in the dead center of the composition, a photographer would choose to place the line nearer to the top or bottom third. Placing the horizon on the lower third would place more emphasis on the sky, whilst placing it along the upper third would place more emphasis on the land. With portrait photography, a person's eyes can be placed along the top horizontal line, with them looking into the frame.

When creating good images, it is vital to understand what makes a good photograph. Every time we look at a photograph, our eye is naturally drawn to certain parts of an image. The interests of our eye can be controlled by specific elements within a photograph. Such elements are an understanding of composition and the use of lighting. These are two key aspects to creating a good image.

2.4 Mastering lighting techniques for phone photography

Lighting is crucial to any kind of photography, and it's even more important when you're using a cell phone camera. Cell phone cameras don't have an aperture or shutter speed, so they're not as adept at capturing high contrast images. The dynamic range of a cell phone camera is also not as high as those found in high-end digital SLRs. This means that cell phone cameras have a harder time capturing the full range of highlights and shadows in a given scene. When you have an indoor scene with bright sunlight coming in through a window, it's tough for a cell phone camera to expose the image properly. If the camera exposes the interior of the room properly, it will blow out the highlights coming in through the window. If it exposes for the highlights, the interior of the room will be too dark. The easiest way to control the light in an indoor scene is to use a sheer curtain. A window with direct sunlight is already high contrast, and using a curtain will help diffuse the light and bring the contrast down to a level that is easier for your camera to expose.

3. Editing and Enhancing

Several apps are available to enhance phone photography. Image editing apps allow smartphone photographers to improve image quality using a wide range of effects. The photo apps include standard features such as sharpen, color balance, contrast, and brightness. A few editing apps have a feature to undo changes that enables users to revert edited photo to the original state, in case the user isn't satisfied with the changes. Most of the photo editing apps have a feature to crop the image. This is especially useful for smartphone photographers since phone cameras use default settings that often result in capturing unnecessary background or peripheral images around the central subject. A primary focus on good composition should preclude any need for cropping; however, in cases where you can't avoid unwanted surroundings, image cropping can improve the final image quality. Cropping changes the shape of an image, so it is important for photographers to specify the desired new aspect ratio to avoid image distortion. One highly popular app with tools for global photography optimization is "PicsArt Photo Studio". PicsArt is very simple and easy to use while still providing users a wide range of tools for improving photo quality. PicsArt is also a global community of photographers enabling users to share their photos with others, an important aspect for many aspiring phone photographers. Filter effects apps are considered a subcategory of photo editing apps. However, there are a large number of highly unique apps exclusively devoted to image filters. This is likely a result of Instagram app's immense popularity in the previous few years. Instagram automatically applies a wide range of filters to mobile photos and added a social platform to share photos. Ironically, the need for image filter apps is an offshoot of the prevalent Instagram influence in mobile photography. Apps with filters have varying capabilities and effects ranging from simple color filters to complex visual effects. As an analogy, these apps are equivalent to Photoshop filters and effects plugins for PC image editing. Due to the great number of apps available, it can be quite tedious to find the best ones. One recommendation is "Analog Film Paris" released by ordinaryFactory Inc. in Japan. Analog Paris is one of a series of Analog Film apps, each with a name based on a different city. The app is very simple with no learning curve required and is primarily used to apply subtle vintage effects to photos, which is currently a very popular trend in mobile photography.

3.1 Best phone photography apps for editing

Google's Snapseed is our first choice and best all-round editing app for its wide variety of selection in features and user-friendly interface. Snapseed hosts a large variety of color and exposure adjustments; it is great for photo tuning with an easy-to-use auto correct feature and has some of the best selection in creating an image focus. Opposite to a blur effect, Snapseed's focus allows you to increase the effect of just the one part of the photo or the whole photo and it does a great job in separating what to focus on. Another free-to-use application, it was originally created and released by Nik Software, it was so good that it was awarded iPad app of the year 2011. After being acquired by Google, the app was soon released for Android and has since won the TAS award for the best mobile image editing app.

Switching competition with Apple's iPhone, Samsung has been able to up its game by improving its cameras on their newer model phones. With 16MP, the camera on the S6 and S6 edge are among the best and they sport some of the fastest autofocuses on the market. But still, even the best of phone cameras are limited when it comes to editing in relation to file size. The industry standard of stock photos from a DSLR are in JPEG file format, these files are usually at least 3MB in size and are able to be edited to the full extent on Photoshop. However, phone cameras are usually set to JPEG file format, but the file sizes are usually from 2-4 times smaller than a stock photo taken from a DSLR. Also, the fact that JPEG is an already compressed file makes it limiting when doing editing to a photo and can potentially lower the quality. But when taking a photo is too important to miss, for the average person this has been seen as a non-issue and photos from a smartphone have been used to document many events and travel spots. This is why there are many apps that have been made in order to edit photos through JPEG on a phone, with many of them boasting a large variety of features that are available on many PC photo editing software.

3.2 Tips for enhancing the quality of phone photos

The quality of mobile phone cameras and camera phones is increasing rapidly. Even the most basic camera phones these days have higher resolutions and more features than camera phones of the past, and this is leading to an increase in the number of people wanting to sell their photos for profit. With thousands of photographs being posted online each day, it is important to make your photos stand out to potential buyers. All photo editing should be done with the latest version of the software. Using older versions or free software may result in a loss of image quality, which will decrease the chances of selling the photo. The first step to enhancing the quality of a photo is to assess the photo for its strengths and weaknesses. Things to look for include over or underexposure, dull or washed-out colors, dust spots or scratches, poor framing or composition, and lack of a clear subject. After identifying these, try to match the strengths and improve the weaknesses using editing software. This trial and error method of editing will improve your photo editing skills over time.

3.3 Optimizing images for online sales

- Use a photo editing software to resize the resolution of an image to 72 dpi. - Most photo editing software will have an "image size" pane that is used to adjust the size of an image for publishing online or printing. It allows you to adjust the dimensions of an image to pixels, making it easy to adhere to the 75-100% rule. An image that is 1200x1600 pixels is 2MP (Mega Pixels), which is enough for online photography sales and should be saved at 100% of the actual size. An image bigger than 2MP at 100% of the actual size will be unnecessarily eating up your bandwidth, and more bandwidth means longer loading times. - Use an image compressor such as Compress jpeg or Optimizilla to minimize the file size of an image. Large file sizes on the web are a big no-no and can see visitors clicking away to other sites with less loading times. A 2MP image should not exceed 800kb, but you will find that the quality will not be reduced if the image is compressed to 500-800kb.

The resolution of images viewed on a PC screen will be at 72 dpi (dots per inch) and images for the web are only able to be viewed clearly at 75-100% of the actual size. Though smartphones have different resolutions, 72 dpi is a good standard for saving images for the web with smartphone images. Smartphone images will vary in resolution; however, to downsize the resolution of your smartphone images, you should:

3.4 Adding filters and effects to phone photos

When adding filters and effects, the original image file should always be saved and a copy used for manipulation. This will allow you to compare the altered image with the original to ensure the changes are improving the image. If you find that an effect has been applied too strongly, it is sometimes possible to reduce its strength through the same menu used to apply it. If this is not possible, or you are using a permanent effect, having the option of comparing the original and altered images may identify that the effect is not appropriate and should be undone. In this situation, you will still have the original image and another opportunity to try a different effect.

The apps and processes for editing and enhancing phone images were presented in the previous sections. This section is focused on a more specific aspect of image enhancement: the use of filters and effects. Filters and effects can be used to improve an image, change its style, or create a certain mood. This form of image manipulation can be very effective but may not suit all styles of photography. If you are looking to enhance an image that did not turn out well, it may be more beneficial to follow the methods described in section 3.2 to improve the quality of the image. If you are trying to change the style of a photo or give it a new look, filters and effects may be the answer.

4. Selling Your Photos

Consider joining a community website such as Deviantart, Myspace, and Flickr. Each of these sites has an incredible amount of users and visual artists/collaborators. Displaying and sharing your photos amongst communities like these could draw attention from site users looking to purchase photos for their own usage. On websites like Myspace and Deviantart, you might even have users contact you directly about purchasing one of your photos. This is often more effective than trying to sell photos through a gallery on a stock photo website, given that commission rates are much lower and you are selling directly to the consumer. High internet traffic allots for more opportunities, so keep exposed photos in the public eye and remember to display a method of contact for potential buyers.

Most photo apps offer a gallery where you upload your photos for others to view, purchase, and download. Stockvault, for example, offers a gallery of photos ranging in quality and subject matter, but the effectiveness of gallery responses is unpredictable. Stokfoto has an effective portfolio and application method but is a more professional and exclusive agency. They do not allow just anyone to contribute, and every photo is put through a series of tests for subject matter and quality. This is definitely something to consider in the future but not an option for most beginners. Another more professional agency is Alamy. They are relatively complicated and expensive, but they offer a large amount of compensation and are definitely worth considering in the future. For the time being, the best opportunity for beginners probably lies in Smugmug. It is essentially an art gallery within a website and subscription costs are low or none, so it is an effective way to display your photos for selling without the need of a significant investment. The rates at which you sell your photos are predetermined at your discretion.

4.1 Exploring popular stock photo apps for beginners

Another option is the Stockimo app which is a part of the Alamy stock photo agency. After you upload your photos using the app, they will be evaluated by some staff and within 24 hours you will be notified if your photos have been accepted or not. If your photos were accepted, they will be put on sale and you will receive 20% of the revenue. The plus side to using Stockimo is that Alamy is a very big name in the stock photo game and they can offer very good opportunities for making money.

Foap is the first app which offers the simplest features to sell your photos. All you do is make an account with Foap, upload your photos, and then Foap will sell your photos for 10% of revenue share. Foap is very simple to use and it has a large community of photo buyers which gives your photos a good chance of getting sold. Foap users also have a chance to participate in Missions which are photo contests that reward the photographer with cash prizes ranging from $100-$500.

There are a few common stock photo apps that offer their services to photographers who want to make some money by selling their photos. The following list will inform you of each app's features, how much they charge for their services, and how much money you can be making.

4.2 Finding photo-selling opportunities with your phone

If you're the more adventurous type and considering taking some more "artsy" shots, you may consider trying your hand at art fairs and the like. Art fairs are a great way to interact with the local community and put your work directly in front of the eyes of your potential buyers. Not only can you make photo sales at art fairs, but it's also an opportunity to sell your photo products. Another face-to-face option is simply taking your photos and photo products to your local coffee shop or other hangout and asking the owner if you can put them on display and hopefully make a few sales. In both cases be sure to bring some business cards or other material and have your website already set up. This way, even if someone doesn't make a purchase you may get a repeat customer later down the line.

When you're just starting out, selling your photos can be a difficult task. Photo buyers are a picky bunch. One popular option is starting with stock photography at sites such as Stock.xchng or For those unfamiliar, stock photos are photos that are readily available for use and can be used for commercial or non-commercial purposes. Usually these photos are used in ad campaigns, websites, brochures, etc. and there is usually a need for a wide variety of subject matter. Compared to other photo selling options, stock photos are great for those "everyday" type photos. The main downside is that the photographer usually only receives a fraction of what the photo is worth.

When it comes to selling your photos, be it stock photos, fine art prints or other photo products, your opportunities are endless. Thanks to the internet and our phones, we have the chance to not only share our photos with the world, but also make money. This chapter will discuss the various opportunities that exist for selling your photos and how to best go about doing so.

4.3 Legal considerations for selling phone photos

An important issue that often gets overlooked in the excitement of starting to make money from your photographs is that of the law. It's not the most fun part of the process, but not paying attention to it can cost you dearly. Fortunately, the law is generally a lot simpler than it may at first seem too. Perhaps the most important thing to know is that any photograph of a person, place, or thing has an owner, and that owner has certain rights relating to what can and can't be done with that photo. These rights are not always a bad thing either; if someone takes a liking to a photo of yours and they then seek you out to use it, that's a good position to be in. However, if you stumble across ways to use or sell their photo and they are not so keen, you may end up in legal trouble. Always ask permission first is a good rule to stick to. Depending on what you want to do with the photo, you will sometimes also need a model or property release to evidence that you do indeed have permission. Photos of famous landmarks and/or certain brands can also cause legal issues, so it's often best to steer clear unless you are sure on what these are. In regards to selling stock, the most common issue that you will face is that of copyright infringement; it is also the most vigorously enforced. Any photo that contains copyrighted material such as artistic works, trademarks, or certain intellectual property will need to be removed from it. Failure to do so can result in the stock agency being pulled up on it, which then filters down to you. A final thing to consider is your own safety. There are certain areas and situations that taking a photograph may land you in more trouble than it's worth. Generally, places that are of a sensitive nature or are government-owned are not a good idea. Law enforcement and officials can also be touchy about being photographed, and while you are generally within your rights to do so, it's often easier to just avoid potential conflict. Always be aware of signs indicating photography restrictions; not noticing one of these may at best result in being asked to leave and at worst may result in legal action.

4.4 Pricing and marketing strategies for phone photography

Price, of course, is also affected by the size of the image. If you are selling digital images, then lower resolution images should be priced lower than higher resolution images, assuming that the higher resolution image will be printed. And because there are still people that buy images for print, do not forget to price printed images differently from digital images.

Step pricing is also effective if it is implemented correctly. This is when you price images at levels relative to their age. New images are priced higher than the mid-level, and if they do not sell after a certain time period, then they are priced lower and so on until they are sold. This may be frustrating if you are trying to sell the image, but it is effective for buyers.

Images priced at prices higher than mid-level but not quite in the higher level are usually likely to receive a counteroffer if they are within the buyer's budget. This is because historically, buyers feel that it never hurts to ask, and on several occasions, image buyers have stated that they will usually try to get high-level images at mid-level prices. If a buyer makes an inquiry about a price, always reply and agree on a price with the buyer. This confirms a sale that may or may not have been made if the image was left at a higher price. A confirmed sale at a lower price is always better.

Research conducted into stock photography prices has shown that the medium price level is the most profitable price level. Prices at this level will encourage more customers to buy your images, and because the price is not too high, you'll also enjoy good sales. Images that are niche and have limited demand should be priced towards the higher end of the scale. Since there are fewer people looking for these images, the people that do look for them are willing to pay a higher price. As the author states, these are images that serve more specialist markets or have limited reproduction value (i.e., once-off use or a local market). Images that are similar to this, such as your own specialty images, should also be priced at a higher level. This is because you will want your photos to be valued equally against your competitors, and if your photos are of equal quality, then price is the only differentiator.

If you've decided to take the plunge and start selling your photographs, then the page on the pricing strategies for stock photography may be of interest to you. The prices that you put on your images are very important. Images priced too high or too low can deter image buyers, and that is not good news for you.




You may like
our most popular tools & apps