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Dilettante Photographers Go Semi-Pro With Profit-Sharing Stock Photo Apps

Bryan Orr
For 90.5 WESA

Whether it’s your favorite Christmas tree ornament, a holiday meal or clinking New Year’s Eve champagne glasses, people love taking photos around the holidays. Now those holiday photos could also yield some cash.

New stock photo mobile apps like Stockimo and Foap pay customers to upload their personal photos into their online marketplaces.

Developed two years ago by British stock photo company Alamy, Stockimo offers users 20-percent licensing fees for every time their photo is used.

Alan Capel, head of content for Alamy, said the average photo is purchased for about $60, but photos occasionally go for thousands of dollars.

“It’s not just a one-time deal where we say, ‘Thanks very much, that’s a very nice picture of a dog. You know, we’ll pay you $20,’” Capel said.

Users photos retain their copyright, he said.

"We don’t assume any ownership of it at all," he said. "The good thing with that is, from a user point of view, is that they can sell pictures again and again and again and keep making money.”

Foap works a little differently. Images loaded into the Foap marketplace sell to individuals or companies for $10 each. Profits are split 50-50, CEO and creator David Los said. 

“In the app, we have a photo rating system, so people are rating each other’s photos,” Los said. “So if you get a high rating on your photo, your photo will (be) promoted up in the Foap marketplace and there’s a higher chance that your photo will be sold.” 

Stockimo also has a similar rating system where higher-rated photos are promoted for purchase.

Both companies said they see spikes in photo submissions around the holidays. 

“Before Christmastime, they start to upload a lot of Christmas-type photos … and those are, of course, selling more,” Los said.

Stockimo said it has about a 50 percent rejection rate. So about half of the photos you upload won’t be used.

Like sunsets and latte art, Los and Capel said. Both leaders said some categories get way more submissions than others.

“Food, coffee, cats and dogs,” Capel said. “They’re our big ones.”