Apps making it easier to profit from smartphone pics

SEATTLE -- That picture you just took on your smartphone may be worth more than you think.

A growing number of amateur and professional photographers are taking advantage of new crowdsourcing apps put out by several companies trying to disrupt the $4 billion stock photo business.

Companies like Scoopshot and Foap set forth tasks or missions for its users to complete. For example, take a picture of a specific product near a famous landmark. If the company likes the picture, you can be rewarded. Some companies reportedly have paid thousands of dollars for the exclusive rights to publish the photo.

But most users are like Aaron Hernandez. The West Seattle photo buff runs his own studio,, and offers his photos in more than a dozen online stock photo communities.

He has given Scoopshot a try and likes how easy it is to upload a picture that could earn him some money for completing a particular assignment.

"It's quite easy and a lot less gear to carry around," said Hernandez.

That's part of the appeal. With millions of camera-equipped smartphones around the world, the chance of getting unique shots and even very good shots are high.

Scoopshot and Foap have created apps that make uploading easy for the average person. Tasks are location-based and easy to find because the app knows where you're at.

"If one happens to be at the event that they need pictures of, that's great. Otherwise, you do have to make an effort to get out there take pictures," said Hernandez.

So far, Hernandez has only made $2.50 selling one photo of a flower called a Bleeding Heart that was blooming in his garden.

"It's not even enough to make it a part time job," he said. "You just have to have the expectation that it may take months or years not days to sell a photo".

Promotional materials from the websites say companies are turning toward this crowdsource approach to finding specific shots for ad campaigns because it's a cheaper alternative to use traditional stock photo companies.