Photographer Earns $19,000 From Cellphone Pics

Posted on 8/7/2012 by Jim Pickerell | Printable Version | Comments (6)

We recently reported on, a Swedish site where photographers can sell pictures they take using their cellphones. Now the developers of the Finnish company Scoopshot, which offers a similar service, tell us that their best selling photographers, Arto Mäkelä, has earned more than $19,000 from pictures he ha taken on his Android smartphone and uploaded to the free-to-download Scoopshot app.
Arto made his money by responding to a task set by Fonecta, a Finnish directory services company, which asked Scoopshot’s users to send in pictures of businesses across the country. Sensing a golden opportunity Arto jumped on his bike and got snapping. Whenever he had the opportunity, he went from city-to-city capturing thousands of pictures of businesses and selling them to Fonecta for around $2 each.
Fonecta is a Finnish online Business Directory. Prior to the partnership with Scoopshot they only published the company name, address and map location besides in addition to  other business infomation. Now, thanks to Scoopshot photos they are able to publish a photo of most companies (buildings, facades) listed on their site.

Scoopshot launched its service in 2010. To date 114,117 people from 165 countries worldwide have downloaded the Scoopshot app and uploaded a combined total of 291,282 photos. Over the last 6 months, Scoopshot’s user base has grown by 1400%!  The company has paid out royalties of a little more than $300,000 to date, or roughly $1.00 per image uploaded.

Scoopshot is working with 50 media publications worldwide including Metro International, a free newspaper published in 56 daily editions in 19 countries and 15 languages. One advantage for creators is that they can set there own prices for usage. However, if the price is unreasonably high the image simply won’t sell. Currently the average price for a photo that is used editorially is about $23.50

Scoopshot operates a commission-based business model taking 30% of the fee collected and remitting 70% to the photographer. There is also a system where companies can submit “tasks” and establish a price they will pay for such photos. Scoopshot’s contributors can then choose whether they want to contribute based on the fee offered.

Only about 1% of the current contributors are in North America but Scoopshot expects that number to grow significantly as they develop ongoing media partnership relationships in the US and Canada.

Arto Mäkelä said, “I downloaded the Scoopshot app thinking I might be able to make a bit of spare cash, but before I knew it I was making something like $500 a week. Over the course of a few months, I kept on sending in photos and the money kept rolling in. Soon I had made enough to book the holiday of a lifetime in Miami and the Caribbean.”

Copyright © 2012 Jim Pickerell. The above article may not be copied, reproduced, excerpted or distributed in any manner without written permission from the author. All requests should be submitted to Selling Stock at 10319 Westlake Drive, Suite 162, Bethesda, MD 20817, phone 301-461-7627, e-mail: wvz@fpcubgbf.pbz

Jim Pickerell is founder of, an online newsletter that publishes daily. He is also available for personal telephone consultations on pricing and other matters related to stock photography. He occasionally acts as an expert witness on matters related to stock photography. For his current curriculum vitae go to:  


  • Paul Melcher Posted Aug 7, 2012
    At $2 an image, that's almost 10,000 images that Arto must has shot to make $19,000. At 1 hour per image, that would have taken him 416 + days ( at 24 hours a day non stop)
    I don't know about you but there are minimum wages jobs that pay much better and are less exhausting . Hope he enjoys that vacation in the Caribbean...he certainly deserves it.
    Seriously Jim, you should be careful in republishing these marketing bombs issued by startups in dire need of exposure. It's pure science fiction.

  • Jonathan Ross Posted Aug 7, 2012
    I have been told by a very reputable source that when the image is purchased you will lose your copyright privileges they are transferred to Scoopshot. Can you clarify if this is true or not. Thank you Jim.

  • Jonathan Ross Posted Aug 7, 2012
    Hi Jim , Here is the info I received. Beware of rights grabs: "If the photo or video is bought, Scoopshot gets exclusive rights for copyright transfer. Scoopshot will then transfer the publishing rights to the buyer according to the license terms." Best, Jonathan

  • Jonathan Ross Posted Aug 7, 2012
    Hi Jim, I was also just informed that the policy at Scoopshoot was not as first presented to me. Not that it isn't still important to read the fine print on these but I thought I should retract my first statement as now I find out the condition of copyright is not true of Scoopshoot. Thanks, Jonathan

  • Ville Laurikari Posted Aug 8, 2012
    Hi all,

    Scoopshot respects photographer rights. When a photo or video is uploaded for sale on Scoopshot Store, Scoopshot has exclusive rights for selling it. After 48 hours the photo is removed from the Store and all rights are always returned to the photographer, unless exclusive rights to the photo have been sold.

    Regarding prices, we understand the concerns and that is exactly why we are currently working on a solution, Scoopshot PRO, for professional photographers. When launched, it should open a whole new world of global job opportunities for professional photographers around the world. Scoopshot PRO is still in a pilot stage, but we have serious Media companies starting pilots during August. (Professional photographers can create accounts and submit their portfolios at


  • Jim Pickerell Posted Aug 9, 2012
    While $2 per image isn’t much Arto certainly doesn’t spend an hour shooting each image that sells. Fonecta is an online “yellow pages” service. They give every business a free listing and then try to sell each business a $300 upgrade of their listing. One of features offered in the upgrade is a photo of their location. So in their “tasks” they ask the photographer to produce a shot of every storefront on a street. The photographer goes up one side of the street and down the other shooting straight on shots of each building. Once Fonecta accepts a photo the task for that particular business is taken off the list. It is not inconceivable that a photographer could shoot 50 or so businesses in a few hours if he goes to a part of town where none of the businesses have been shot. He doesn’t have to get any permissions, and if the light is good it is a piece of cake.

    I have a little problem with the photographer only getting $2.00 when Fonecta is making a $300 sale, but I suspect they buy a lot of images and are then unable to sell the upgrade to many of the businesses so that $2.00 is a loss for them. Also, this may not have been the only thing Arto was doing. He may have been taking some “tasks” for newspapers where the average price is $23.50 and in some cases much higher numbers. Certainly Arto is the top shooter for this company and the vast majority of contributors are making little or nothing. However, this resource does benefit publishers. Publishers will use as many images as they can obtain in this manner. As a result there will be even less space available for pictures taken by photographers who are trying to earn a living producing editorial pictures.

    I do fully agree that there are lots of minimum wage jobs that pay much better that shooting stock photos on speculation.

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