If you want to make money with mobile photos, now is the time!
10 years ago streets were full of people with huge DSLR cameras. These cameras became affordable, and everyone wanted one. I bought my first Canon Digital Rebel, and every time I saw a person with an SLR camera, I would think: “Oh, a fellow stock photographer!”. Nowadays we don’t see that many people with huge cameras! They are all using their cell phones, and do I. The quality of mobile photos is constantly growing, and it is tempting to follow the trend and use all those beautiful retro filters. More and more stock photo agencies accept mobile photos, and it’s getting easier to make money with your cell phone. And the most common rejection from iStockphoto.com – “overfiltered” – doesn’t apply anymore 🙂
iStock was the first microstock site that recognized the value of mobile photography and its potential in microstock business. iStock started accepting mobile photos asking contributors to add the keyword “MobileStock”, to make sure these photos pass a different review process.
Other agencies followed. Fotolia created their Instant collection. Dreamstime started accepting mobile photos as well. It would be really great if Shutterstock recognized the value of mobile images, and created a special collection as well, but they haven’t done it (yet?).
Unfortunately, many agencies only allow submitting mobile photos through an App installed on a smartphone, which is very inconvenient for photographers who take their business seriously and submit their work to multiple sites. Most of these Apps do not read IPTC data (keywords and descriptions integrated into the image), which means that you need to manually enter keywords every time you want to submit an image. Each agency thinks they will be the only one.
It’s a very inefficient way of working. So I prefer to treat my mobile photos the same way as photos taken with a DSLR camera. It allows me to greatly improve the quality of images, and make more money with mobile photos by increase acceptance ratio.
Here is a step by step process:
1) I take a series of photos with an iPhone and import them into Lightroom. I select the best images and make sure they have good focus (focus that seems fine on a small cell phone screen, even with 100% zoom, may turn out to be insufficient when viewed on a computer screen).
2) I delete photos that I won’t use and transfer the selected images back to the phone with the help of a free Photo Transfer Wi-Fi App.
3) I edit photos on my phone with the help of my favorite Apps.
4) I transfer the edited photos back to Lightroom and do some more editing, like adjusting lighting and colors, and improving quality by using noise reduction (which is very good in Lightroom!). Noise reduction is important, especially deleting “color noise”, and helps to improve the quality of mobile images and increase the acceptance ratio.
5) Then I export images as 8-bit TIFF files and improve focus in Photoshop. If some further editing is needed, like using a Clone tool for example, it can be done as well. Then I embed IPTC data (keywords and descriptions) and export files as JPEGs.
Quite time consuming! But treating mobile photos this way helps improve the quality so much that these images pass quality control with agencies that normally wouldn’t accept mobile photos.