Your ever-present smartphone could start earning its keep

Janet Schaaf

Scoopshot, an app that allows users to sell photos taken with smartphone cameras, is making money for people world-wide. The Finland-based company, established in 2010, has expanded into North America and the app has experienced increased popularity in the US.

Users of the app take photos of people or events and upload them through Scoopshot, where the photos are offered for sale. Media outlets and marketers are the primary purchasers of Scoopshot photos.
Buyers can create assignments for photos they are seeking, to which app users can respond. Scoopshot also creates tasks within the app for user response.

Earnings from photo sales vary. The buyer sets a price for buyer-assigned photos. Photos uploaded in response to a Scoopshot task generally earn $2.50-10 each if purchased by Scoopshot. Each task is available for a limited period of time, typically for three days. Users set their own price for uploaded photos.

For cash-strapped college students, this can be a quick way to make a buck.

However, Scoopshot isn’t the only avenue for photo selling. Stock photo agencies Shutterstock and Bigstock also pay for user-submitted photos, though only higher quality images are usually accepted. Getty Images is another agency catering to professional photographers whose images end up in well-known magazines and international news outlets.

The biggest difference between Scoopshot and other agencies is that Scoopshot caters to amateur photographers who happen to be in the right place at the right time with a smart phone in hand.
However, with convenience comes risk. Scoopshot’s Terms of Service provides very little protection for the casual photographer’s long-term rights to photos uploaded. According, Scoopshot retains “exclusive rights” to the uploaded photos for 48 hours, meaning “no other person shall use, publish, sell or offer to sell the photo or otherwise use the photo for any purpose, including commercial purposes or in their own work without the permission of the above mentioned exclusive rights holder.”

If not purchased by a buyer within that period of time, some rights – but not all – are returned to the user.

An aspect of selling the occasional photograph that might not immediately come to mind is the tax consequences of this income. Professional photographers are generally in business for themselves. Any income they earn from selling their work is considered taxable income.

Scoopshot provides Finnish users tax documentation or simply withholds appropriate taxes from their earnings. For users in other countries, however, the company advises guidance of a tax professional in their locality. For casual users of the app who earn small amounts, this may not be problematic. As earnings rise, attention to tax consequences becomes important.

Scoopshot is an innovative way to explore the world of selling photography and earning a few dollars at the same time.

The free Scoopshot app is available in the App Store, on Google Play and in the Windows Store. For more information about the app, visit