17 Ways to Take Camera Phone Photos that Sell

Hobbyists pull out their cameras on the weekends. Pros keep a camera with them wherever they go. But almost everyone these days keeps a phone with them, and many of those phones come with built-in lenses that, if not exactly top-quality, are often good enough to do the job.

But can that job pay money?

Here are 17 ways to make the images you shoot on your camera phone good enough to pay cash:

1. Stick to High Quality
Camera phones usually come with different resolution settings. Do we really need to recommend that you use the highest possible option? Sure, you’ll be able to take fewer shots but a handful of good images will always pay more than a bunch of grainy ones.

2. Use the Flash
As we pointed out in a previous post, camera phones aren’t great at handling low light. Turning on the flash might shorten your battery power but it will protect your images from underexposure and make them more marketable.

3. Be Odd!
The advantage that a camera phone has over conventional cameras isn’t just that it’s always close by; it’s also that it’s much more flexible. It’s easy to hold above your head, around corners and at strange angles. Those unique shots could be just what a buyer is looking for.

4. Shoot Celebrities
The market for shots of celebrities is one of the biggest and highest-earning in the world. With magazines like Heat paying around $400 for a snap, it’s no wonder that tabloids are being swamped with shots of stars. To make your image stand out, don’t just shoot when you see a celeb, wait for the kiss, the lean-forward or the mouth full of pie. Then send it to Scoopt.

5. Become a Bounty Hunter
Many of the images shot on camera phones are opportunistic — you have to be in the right place at the right time. SpyMedia.com though offers bounties for particular images. These might range from five bucks for shots of Halloween costumes to $100 for photos of Starbucks’ new tangerine frappuccino. Pick your target and pack your phone.

6. Demonstrate!
One way to avoid relying on luck when shooting with a camera phone is to go where the action is. Demonstrations are always good options. Small ones are rarely well covered and even when photographers are present, a close-up of a witty banner or a painted face can trump a professional shot and find a market.

7. Watch Sports Events
The same is true of sports events. Photographers with long lenses will always have the upper hand when it comes to capturing the quarterback, but if you’re in the crowd, you’ll be able to shoot the atmosphere: the hot-dogs, the crowds and the trash under the seats. Those can make good stock images if nothing else.

8. Take in a Concert
And if we’re talking of fun, try a concert too. Again, camera phones aren’t the best at shooting close-ups of the singer, but they can capture the fans, the groupies and the scene around the stage door.

9. Develop Contacts
Taking a good picture with a camera phone isn’t too hard (after a bit of practice); selling it can be. Your best bet is to develop a relationship with a photo editor at your local newspaper, music magazine or other niche outlet. Pitching to someone you know is always easier than making a cold call.

10. Win a Competition
There are a number of competitions offering prizes for camera phone images. The London Times, for example, is offering vacations and phones for people producing great images that match assignments. Strictly speaking, you won’t be selling your images for cash, but the prizes are worth money and the exposure could lead to sales too.

11. Become a Location Scout
Snapped a shot of a beautiful location? Put it online, geo-tag it and charge people to find out where it is. Pitch your service to wealthy couples looking for discrete honeymoon locations or travelers looking for exotic spots and you could have a whole new market.

12. Take a Pic a Day
Daily pics on blogs get clicks. They might not get sales but the traffic is worth money, either in advertising or as a market for your commercial images.

13. Shoot Your Business Every Day
If you’re not a professional photographer, take your camera phone to work and take regular snaps behind the scenes. Again, these images are unlikely to end up on a gallery wall, but they will bring in potential customers and give you product sales.

14. Follow the Blogs

Another way to avoid hoping to be in the right place and ready to take the right shots is to know what sort of images the world wants to see. If bloggers keep talking about the iPhone, for example, being one of the first to snap someone talking on theirs could land you a sale.

15. Go Easy on the Photoshopping
While many of the weaknesses of camera phones can be fixed with a little post-production, it’s a good idea to go easy on the editing. The biggest market for camera phone images is still news desks and they like to know how far the image is from the scene you saw. A little sharpening is fine; superimposition isn’t.

16. Promote your Photos on Flickr
Perhaps the biggest challenge with camera phone imagery is getting them seen. Flickr helps here but the images have to be well tagged so that buyers can find them. Get original, good quality shots and you’ll be in with a good shout of making a sale.

17. Shoot Often

And finally, the best advice is the one that applies to all types of photography: take lots of pictures and market the best.

Check out the Times camera phone competition here and tell us about your experiences shooting with your mobile.

Photo of Pihlajasaari changing rooms by Pirkka2

[tags] camera phone pictures, sell camera phone photos [/tags]

10 comments for this post.

  1. Alex Said:

    Thanks a ton! This article has given me a lot of ideas on what I could do with my spare time.

  2. Hidell Said:

    Good article. How would one go about finding money for pictures taken on a camera phone. Thanks.

  3. Bob Said:

    Are you serious, this is possibly the stupidest thing Digg.com has found to date. There is a fine line between taking acceptable pictures with a cell phone and trying to "sell" them. Professional photographers do not shoot on cell phones.
    Thank you.

  4. PiticStyle Said:

    Thank you for this tips!

  5. Hidell Said:

    Wow, Bob. Typical arrogant "artist" response. As I am sure you are over 55 years of age, you fail to realize that I Phones and other superior phones can take stunning pictures. The technological future is coming, so run for the hills.

  6. jhay Said:

    Amazing! Though I'm using Zooomr instead of Flickr, awesome tips.

  7. Lovesick Billy Said:

    There's so much wrong with this article, who knows where to begin. Yes, you can take great photos with the right phone, but really, shoot a location and charge people to find out where it is?? Good grief.

  8. David Said:

    Don't think you could sell concert shots from an iPhone, but there are some great examples here: http://www.flickr.com/groups/concertiphone/

  9. fizwoz Said:

    If you are interested in selling your mobile photos and videos taken online, you should check out fizwoz.com. It is a marketplace that is set up to sell your photos and videos taken with your cameraphone to media outlets.

    Also, here is an article on the "Best Practices for Selling your Mobile Content Online" Check it out. http://bit.ly/4LhzQR

  10. Ken McCoy Said:

    I have a 9th Annual Freelance Photg/Video workshop Feb 27th details: [email protected].

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