Here’s How to Get Paid for the Photos on Your Smartphone

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ByABC News
June 2, 2016, 9:08 AM

— -- It’s said that a picture is worth a thousand words. And now those photos on your smartphone –- of your children, your pets, your vacation or yourself –- can be worth cash, too.

Mike Gutkin is being paid for his photos. The full-time research scientist earns extra money on the side by selling pictures he captures on his iPhone. He walks around New York City and snaps scenes that interest him. Those cityscapes earned him more than $200 last year.

Gutkin posts his snaps to the photo selling app Twenty20. The app connects people and companies who browse and purchase everyday pictures taken by ordinary people.

Photo takers upload any images they choose. They also enter challenges in certain categories, such as summer fun, city life -– or even cute couples.

“It's pretty crazy,” Gutkin said of his hobby’s earning power. “Hopefully (in) a good month ... I'm selling about 10 photos.”

Images that grab top dollar are ones that show healthy lifestyles, modern workplaces and scenes from everyday life, including family meals or even brushing your teeth.

Twenty20’s co-founder and CEO Matt Munson said there are numerous companies that purchase stock images of staged photos on a regular basis.

“And so ... we provide an alternative where you can actually license content of real people in real life,” he said.

On Foap, another photo-selling app, big brands in need of photos for ad campaigns send users on missions. Kellogg recently paid $300 each for the best photos of their cereal.

The app PayYourSelfie allows users to earn fast cash –- 20 cents to $1 per photo –- for selfies of the photo-takers with ordinary household products. Users earn money for a photo that fulfills each challenge, and are able to cash out when they accrue $20.

There are a few caveats.

These apps aren’t always instant money for the user. It can take time to develop a network and get photos seen by the right buyers.

And while users may earn extra pocket change, they will trade some privacy. They also may not always know where their personal photos will end up. Sellers should make sure they understand what kinds of uses they’re agreeing to when they sell their images.