Scoopshot Wants to Turn Mobile Photogs into Citizen Journalists

A couple months ago we shared an app called Foap, which allows people who take pictures with their phone to put the images up for sale for $10 a pop. If Foap is the bane of microstock photographers, then Scoopshot is the bane of photojournalists.

It’s an app that helps phone photographers easily sell their images to news organizations. After all, when a local story happens, it’s often random passersby that are on the scene first with phones out and camera apps loaded.

From a mobile shooter’s point of view, here’s how the system works. After snapping a photo of something interesting and/or newsworthy, you sent a price, location, category, and description:

You then submit the photo to the service, where it will be listed for sale. Whenever a news organization picks up a copy of the photo, you get paid.

In addition to uploading photos on your terms, you can also carry out tasks assigned by companies. The company selects the images it wants from the submissions received, and those photographers get paid.

The service is growing at a pretty healthy clip: after launching back in 2010, it currently boasts more than 110,000 users in 165 countries around the world. Total profits made by photographers so far? $300,000.

50 media companies — including some of the world’s largest newspapers — are currently partnering with the company.

We’re told that one particular user has seen quite a bit of success with the app, earning over $19,000 so far for his images:

Arto Mäkelä has earned more than $19,000 by taking pictures and uploading them to the free-to-download Scoopshot app on his Android smartphone.

[…] Arto made his money by responding to a task set by Fonecta, a Finnish directory services company, which asked Scoopshot’s users to send in pictures of businesses across the country. Sensing a golden opportunity Arto jumped on his bike and got snapping. Whenever he could get the opportunity, he went from city-to-city capturing thousands of pictures of businesses and selling them to Fonecta for around $2 each.

A few trips and several thousand pictures later, Arto had earned enough money from Scoopshot’s app to book a three-week long vacation to Miami and the Caribbean, as well as an array of high-tech gadgets, including a widescreen TV and a top-of-the-range digital SLR camera.

Mäkelä’s haul soon turned into $500 per week — a decent amount of money for simple phone photographs delivered online.

In terms of commission, Scoopshot takes a 30% share of the sales — the same rate that Apple takes from apps sold, and $20 less than Foap.

More and more news organizations are trying to fit citizen journalism into their coverage of local and world events (e.g. CNN’s iReport), so Scoopshot might just be able to carve out a profitable niche in the news ecosystem.