How To Make Money From Selling Your iPhone Photos

Would it surprise you to learn that your iPhone photos might have a commercial value? As smart-phones get smarter and smartphone photographers get better, the demand for great images increases. And stock image libraries are finally realizing that a great photo from an iPhone is still a great photo, even though it hasn’t been taken with an expensive DSLR camera. In this article we take a look at iPhone stock photography and how you can get your iPhone photos in front of paying customers.

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Stock photography is the supply of photographs to customers who are searching for a specific type of image, usually for commercial use. Images are accessed via a stock image agency which is responsible for making your photographs available to the widest possible audience.

Their website allows potential customers to search the online stock image library and purchase a license to use the photograph. The stock image agency then pays you, the photographer, an agreed percentage of the sale price (or a fixed price).

Stock image libraries have existed for decades but only the most forward-thinking ones have taken smartphone photography seriously. Some have developed mobile apps which you install on your iPhone, streamlining the process of getting your photos onto the stock image library.

Some apps provide a built-in camera and/or post-processing features such as filters, borders, exposure adjustment and sharpening. Additionally, these apps will give you access to your account details and show any sales, rejections and news/updates.

It’s in the interest of the stock image libraries to make it as easy for you to sell your images as possible. This includes helping you understand what kind of images sell. So let’s take a look at some of the well-known stock image libraries that accept mobile photography.


Stockimo is the iPhone arm of Alamy, who claim to be the world’s largest stock photo agency. Alamy pays between $1 and $20,000 per photo sold, and has paid over $140 million to their photographers since they began.

Alamy realized how much demand there was for powerful, impactful images from their customers and recognized that iPhone photographers had both the hardware and software (apps) to create amazing images that would sell.

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So they launched Stockimo to give iPhone photographers a chance to make their photos available for sale via the Alamy site. The free Stockimo app makes uploading and selling your iPhone images really quick and easy.

The Stockimo app is slick & simple, allowing to easily upload photos from your iPhone image library. As part of the upload process you have to add a title and tags (keywords) to your image to help customers find your photo.

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This part of the process can be a bit tedious and time consuming, however, it’s worth it as the more relevant keywords you add the more chance your photo has of being found during a customer search.

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There are also a couple of questions you have to answer about the inclusion of people or property in your image, as this affects whether the photo can be sold for commercial use.

Uploaded photos aren’t automatically accepted by Stockimo. After uploading your photo, Stockimo manually checks each image, scores it and either accepts or rejects it. The results aren’t instant so you may have to wait a few hours, or even a day or two.

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Photos are rated out of 4.0 – a score below 2.0 out of 4.0 results in rejection. Accepted photos are made available to potential purchasers on the Alamy website. This rating system can be strangely addictive! It can be exciting and nerve-wracking waiting for your score!

If your photo is rejected, it’s worth editing the photo in a different way and then uploading it again to see if they will accept a different edit, for example, they might not like your color image but will accept the black and white version.

From experience, Stockimo seems to favor images that have fairly heavy-handed post-processing, which is somewhat surprising – but that’s just an observation, not the rule. The bottom line is they want images that create an emotional response in the viewer.

Stockimo says “We want cool images taken on your phone. What you take is up to you. We want you to shoot what you love and be as creative and adventurous as you like. We want interesting places and happenings; we want Stockimo users to document the world.”

The app also informs you when one of your images has sold, and you get paid your share of the sale proceeds every month via Paypal so long as you’ve made at least $10. Once an image has sold, it can be resold again and again, earning you more money. You retain the copyright of the image and can sell it elsewhere.

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The app provides an activity log which shows you the images you’ve uploaded, which were accepted or rejected, as well as any sales and payments made.

A common complaint from Stockimo users is that they aren’t told what’s wrong with rejected images. But Stockimo urges photographers not to be disheartened – it’s not personal, they just know what sells and what doesn’t. In a future update to the app, Stockimo plan to give reasons for low scores and rejections.

Currently Stockimo pays 40% commission on any photo sold but they warn this will drop to 20% on December 31, 2014 (for new customers only) so even if you’re not ready to contribute images just yet, it might be wise to sign up sooner rather than later in order to take advantage of the higher commission rate.

Further details about how to sell your iPhone photos on Stockimo can be found on the Stockimo website.


Another app which lets you submit and sell your iPhone photographs online is Foap. After a fairly shaky start (see user feedback to our previous article on Foap) I thought I would revisit the app to see if anything has changed.

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Foap is still going. Their client-base is more impressive and includes the likes of Heineken, MasterCard, Volvo and Sony, and it gained some TV coverage on ABC 8 News this month. They’re still charging buyers $10 per image and paying the photographer $5.

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After uploading an image, it gets rated between 1 and 5 by the Foap community. A score of at least 2.5 results in your image being offered for sale.

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Incidentally, your first photo(s) won’t be reviewed until you’ve rated 5 other photos on Foap. Also, after rating 5 photos you won’t be able to rate any other photos until you get at least one photo published.

Initially this is a bit annoying but it’s a valuable quality-control step which should ensure your successful photos end up for sale side-by-side with other equally great photos.

I had my first photo rated & approved within 5 minutes of uploading it – which is a promising start and gives me hope that the Foap community has hit sufficient numbers to become a success.

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Foap also has a Missions section within the app which allows you to submit photos on a particular theme, with a cash reward for the winning image.

It seems Foap have listened to early feedback and criticism about the app because it has now been updated and certainly feels and looks better. I’d be interested to hear if long-standing “Foapers” agree in the comments section below.

Foap claims that users with more than 100 photos sell 500% more than other users. This might be a ruse to get more content, but it makes sense that the more photos you upload the more choice you’re offering. And the more active you are as an iPhone photographer, the better practiced and skilled you will be!

You can find out more about Foap by visiting their stock image website.

Other Stock Image Libraries That Accept iPhone Photos

As well as Stockimo and Foap, there are other stock image agencies that accept mobile photography. Getty Images allows you to upload your iPhone photos using their Moments app.

EyeEm, the online photo sharing community that we use for our weekly photo contest, also enables you to sell your iPhone photos. Visit the EyeEm Market to get started.

Finally, you may want to check out the Snapwire app which gives you access to real-time paid photo requests and challenges, as well as being able to sell photos directly from your own portfolio. Visit the Snapwire website for more information.

It's easy to take a quick snapshot with iPhone, but most people don't know how to take full control of their iPhone's camera. That's why we created a free video revealing 7 hidden iPhone camera features that every photographer should use.

  • goh.

    Hi Rob, are there any requirements about the photo format, eg. are square photos allowed?

    • Hi Gosia – thanks for your question. There are no restrictions regarding aspect ratio that I’m aware of – however you might find an uncropped image gives the potential buyer more options (e.g. for positioning copy/text if being used in an advert or magazine cover etc). Maybe you could consider uploading a few different crops – one square, one portrait, one landscape – depending on the image. Good luck with your stock image photography. 🙂

  • This post, was right on time, thank you!

    • Hi Greg – I’m glad this article came at the right time for you. Good luck! 🙂

  • Fotolia and 123RF also have mobile apps. I’ve sold quite a few iPhone photos via the Fotolia app.

    • Thanks for the heads-up Chris – I’m looking forward to checking these two out.

  • Thanks for compiling this useful info Rob! I recently sold an image on Stockimo, but I’m going to register with some of these other stock libraries too 🙂

    • MeganElizabeth Watkins


      Out of curiosity, how much $ did you get from your sell? I signed up for Stockimo last night and would love to hear some first hand expirenence. Thank you!

    • $92 was the most I got for a photo. The others were between $18 and $25.

  • Ana Martinez

    Arcangel Images offers the Smart Collection as well, high quality imagery from mobile devices. Their main focus is the book cover industry which means that they distribute pretty creative imagery. Check it out 🙂 Thank you

    • Thanks for sharing this info Ana. Look forward to checking it out 🙂

  • shutterspeed55

    Thanks so much for this article. I have been building up my iPhone photo library and have reached the stage of looking around for stock photo sites and figuring out the best places to send my photos. This article had some great information – thanks again!

    • Really glad to hear you found it useful. Good luck with selling your photos! 🙂

  • Kathleen McCaffrey

    Wish i had found this before i started :p But is great for selling iphone pics too – I sell pics here (free to contribute) and it just relaunched with some pretty awesome new features for photographers, buyers & even models soon!

  • I recommend Pixendr app for iPhone. It submits a picture to multiple agencies at once and has the fast keywording tool. Is just great. Have a try

  • Stefanie Cook

    Can you upload the same photo on different app sites to sell?

    • Je-ann

      Yes you can 🙂

  • Chris Hauptmüller

    So, if you had to choose 1 out of the stock photo apps listed above, which one would you choose? Judging by the article Stockimo seems to be the favorite?

    • Hi Chris. My personal favorite is Stockimo. The app is easy to use and the payments seem to be quite high compared to other agencies.

    • Bishop

      Sorry, can you suggest any site which uses anything except Paypal? PP is not available in my country 🙁 Skrill would be ideal!

  • Michael Watson

    Here are some tips that will be helpful if you want ot make money by selling your iphone photos:

    Always take your image using the high resolution and try to capture all the natural colors. Make sure your image is as vibrant and bright as possible. Not washed out colors. You want someone to choose it for design work.

    You should not be thinking of selling your camera phone pictures if the shots you are taking are not clear and in focus.

    If your phone does not take high quality photos, then you need to sell your old smart phone and buy a new one with better camera. For selling your old phone , you can use sites like

    One of the top reasons for not selling an image is bad lighting. Your subject must be well lit. You can take good pictures with your camera phone, if the object is lit up properly.

    Do not try to sell retouched images either. That means one that came from somewhere ells originally.