iStock Accepts Photos Created With Mobile Devices

Posted on 9/4/2012 by Jim Pickerell | Printable Version | Comments (0)

iStock has made it official.  They are encouraging contributors to shoot with cell phones and accepting those images into the general collection. The next generation of stock photography – from RM to RF to Microstock to Cell Phones -- is upon us. See iStock’s Creative Brief.

It appears iStock has been listening to photo buyers who say they want “more authentic” images and mobilestock seems to be the way to get them. Their creative brief says they are looking for “real,” “authentic,” “spontaneous moments” and that mobile devices that are always with the creator are the perfect tool for capturing such genuine moments. They are asking for images of things photographer sees every day.

However the simplicity of pulling that phone out and grabbing a shot is not necessarily what they want. iStock suggests that “brighter is better” and the use of supplemental “continuous light sources” are often appropriate. In addition apps like Camera+ and Camera Awesome offer controls for setting focus and exposure separately rather than being tied to the fixed aperture and narrow shutter speed range of the typical mobile phone. And finally mobile photographers should set app preferences to save at maximum image resolution. The default for many photo apps is to save files at a medium resolution in order to save on mobile storage and data upload costs.

Cell phone pictures must also be keyworded in the normal manner and have the keyword tag “mobilestock.” It appears that there will be looser inspection standards for mobile images, than the standards for images created with other cameras. Model and property releases will still be required. (Check out the ASMP app.)

Now that mobilestock is considered a separate genre some photographers believe that images created with slim point and shoot cameras ought to be included in the same category. On the other hand when microstock started out, a big percentage of the images were created with point and shoot cameras. But, when offered the point-and-shoot pictures customers began to ask for more quality and photographers started producing images with more professional cameras, lighting, sets and models.

Is Mobilestock What Customers Want?

While microstock images have certainly become very polished and slick many photographers on the Microstock Group forum question whether buyers will use much mobile photography given its lower quality and candid (almost haphazard) nature.

One designer commented that the use of such images would for the most part not be satisfactory for print production, but could be useful for web and PDF products. He suggested that while the quality produced by these mobile devices may not always be satisfactory for web use today within one of two years such imagery will probably be perfectly usable. He added that “noise (which microstock photographers have always been taught to avoid) is not always a critical point in quality. Sometimes it can be pretty appealing or even desired.”

Another designer said, “after years of torturing photographers over nonexistent 'artifacts', and demanding edge-to-edge focus and infinite depth of field - now they want cell phone photos. Excuse me, 'mobile photography'. It's the biggest ‘never mind’ that was ever issued.”

Currently there are 592 mobilestock images in the iStock collection. Some are priced at the base rate and other are priced at the Exclusive and Exclusive+ levels. Some are also only available as editorial. The best selling image so far has been downloaded 6 times.

For more on mobilestock check out “iPhoneography: The Future?” and “Photographer Earns $19,000 From Cellphone Pics.”  Also check out this story about three top instagram photographers who have been given unprecedented court side access at U.S. Tennis Open. Together these three photographers have over 600,000 followers.

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:  


Be the first to comment below.

Post Comment

Please log in or create an account to post comments.

Stay Connected

Sign up to receive email notification when new stories are posted.

Follow Us

Free Stuff

Stock Photo Pricing: The Future
In the last two years I have written a lot about stock photo pricing and its downward slide. If you have time over the holidays you may want to review some of these stories as you plan your strategy ...
Read More
Future Of Stock Photography
If you’re a photographer that counts on the licensing of stock images to provide a portion of your annual income the following are a few stories you should read. In the past decade stock photography ...
Read More
Blockchain Stories
The opening session at this year’s CEPIC Congress in Berlin on May 30, 2018 is entitled “Can Blockchain be applied to the Photo Industry?” For those who would like to know more about the existing blo...
Read More
2017 Stories Worth Reviewing
The following are links to some 2017 and early 2018 stories that might be worth reviewing as we move into the new year.
Read More
Stories Related To Stock Photo Pricing
The following are links to stories that deal with stock photo pricing trends. Probably the biggest problem the industry has faced in recent years has been the steady decline in prices for the use of ...
Read More
Stock Photo Prices: The Future
This story is FREE. Feel free to pass it along to anyone interested in licensing their work as stock photography. On October 23rd at the DMLA 2017 Conference in New York there will be a panel discuss...
Read More
Important Stock Photo Industry Issues
Here are links to recent stories that deal with three major issues for the stock photo industry – Revenue Growth Potential, Setting Bottom Line On Pricing and Future Production Sources.
Read More
Recent Stories – Summer 2016
If you’ve been shooting all summer and haven’t had time to keep up with your reading here are links to a few stories you might want to check out as we move into the fall. To begin, be sure to complet...
Read More
Corbis Acquisition by VCG/Getty Images
This story provides links to several stories that relate to the Visual China Group (VCG) acquisition of Corbis and the role Getty Images has been assigned in the transfer of Corbis assets to the Gett...
Read More
Finding The Right Image
Many think search will be solved with better Metadata. While metadata is important, there are limits to how far it can take the customer toward finding the right piece of content. This story provides...
Read More

More from Free Stuff