How to make money with iPhone photos: the complete guide

How to make money with iPhone photos: the complete guide

girl taking photo of coffee, milk, and plant with her iPhone - make money iPhone photos
Can you earn cash by being an iPhone photographer?

You’re having fun with iPhone photography—the joy you’re feeling is priceless. But now you’re wondering: can you make money from iPhone photos?

Now, hobbies aren’t always supposed to earn. However, think about the cash you could gain to further grow this hobby of yours. So, it wouldn’t be “selling out” if you try to make money from iPhone photos. 

Can you earn from photos taken from an iPhone? Will companies or clients take them seriously and buy them?  

In this post, we will provide guidelines on how to earn from iPhone photography. 

Can you make money with iPhone photos? 

girl taking a photo of the city lights using her iPhone - make money iPhone photos
It is attainable to make money
from iPhone photos, but it won’t be an overnight task.

The short answer is yes. Just like any kind of photography, you can earn in iPhone Photography. In fact, you can make money with your iPhone photos in dozens of ways. 

For one, It can be as easy as approaching stock photography sites and selling your pictures at a dollar or two. Did you know that some companies today only buy photos that are taken using iPhones? 

So, if you’re worried that no business will take your photos seriously, you can rest easy now. Many apps cater to this market/niche, which we will discuss later. 

Alternatively, to earn money in iPhone photography, you can go for bigger ponds. You can start networking with fellow iPhone photographers, learn the ropes, slowly earn, and then make a name. 

Nevertheless, don’t assume that you can gain traction in this venture overnight. Earning money from your passion will not be a walk in the park, of course. However, don’t be discouraged yet. 

You can follow our guidelines below to start the right baby steps. 

How to earn with your iPhone photos 

Don’t be discouraged by the fact that you’re using an iPhone. You’re probably worrying about the competition. Well, you shouldn’t. You can earn in the same ways as DSLR photographers would. The only difference is that you’re using an iPhone. 

1. Learn about Stock Photography. 

food photo being post-processed on a photo-editing software - make money iPhone photos
Stock Photography has strict standards in photo specs and submission.

Stock Photography is the supply of licensed photos to publishing. Today, with stock photography websites such as Shutterstock, it is becoming a lucrative industry—especially for iPhone photography enthusiasts. 

Do you want to take iPhone stock photos that sell quickly like hotcakes? First, you must follow the technical requirements and standards of most stock photography websites. 

Here are some of them.

  1. The photo must have at least a 4mb size
  2. A rare niche that has less competition
  3. Clear and focused subject
  4. Realistic and clear concept
  5. Well-lit and proper exposure
  6. No application of layers of filters
  7. It should give real value to people (ex. Photos with news value or pictures of a city’s landmark)

These are just several of the common specs of stock photography. Some stock photo websites might have their own special requirements for each photo. 

Now, for more tips, you can check out Nicole Glass’s guideline for a successful Shutterstock photo. While you’re at it, don’t forget to prepare an extra storage device like a 256GB flash drive for your test shots.

2. Join international mobile photography contests.

Of course, besides selling to make money from iPhone photos, you can also try joining competitions. 

The best thing about this though isn’t really the prize money. That’s because even by just entering these contests, you’re already gaining experience and building a name for yourself. 

By doing this, you’re increasing your chance of establishing yourself as a professional. If you’re consistent with the latter, you can even charge higher than the average fee for your photos. 

Where can you find these iPhone photography contests? You can follow these bodies and institutions. 


a young girl from Tanzania with her little brother standing at the white-sand beach. - make money iPhone photos
Big Sisterby Gabriella Cigliano, the Grand Prize Winner and Photographer of the Year – IPPAWARDS 2019

The iPhone Photography Awards or IPPAWARDS is likened to the Oscar’s of the mobile photography industry. It’s the much-awaited international and annual photo competition for iPhone users. 

You can photograph any subject—it can be children or landscapes to urban photography. You can use iPhone macro lenses or a 58mm tele lens on your iOS device, but you can’t post-process them.

Meanwhile, besides the award and title, the 1st prize winner will receive a reward that will be announced later. The deadline is March 31, 2020.

We suggest you join this contest if you’ve been taking photos for a while now. You can even submit up to 25 photos for an entry fee of $65.50.

 You can view more of the mechanics here.

2. International Photography Awards (IPA)

a cleaner at a ship wearing yellow clothing, scrubbing the red floor with a map, in contrast to the bright blue waves of the ocean. - make money iPhone photos
Life in Color” by Zay Yar Lin, 1st Place Winner in Smartphone Photography, IPA 2019 – Taken on iPhone 7 Plus

Another competition to watch out for is the 18th IPA in 2020

They have a new category, Smartphone Photography. You can register on their site and have until March 15, 2020, to submit your best snapshot.

The good thing about this contest is up to 13 non-professional shutterbugs and student photographers can also join and win. They can win $500 to $4,500 of cash prizes and an exhibition. 

As for the seasoned pros, they can win as much as $10,000, plus a trophy and an exhibition. All the winners can even receive a travel allowance and enjoy free accommodation in New York! Know more about the contest on this page.

3. Sony World Photography Awards (SWPA)

a collection of winning photos for Sony World Photography Awards
2019 National Awards’ Winners – Sony World Photography Awards

This prestigious award body rewards the most talented contemporary photographers from around the globe. 

Seasoned DSLR camera and mobile photographers can enter this annual contest for free. They recently opened their Smartphone Photography category in 2015, in which Turi Calafato bagged the top prize. You can see the winning pictures here

Moreover, the cash prize is quite generous, which is $30,000 plus the latest Sony equipment available. 

In the winners’ gallery, you can observe that the photos depict beautiful narratives. If you have a talent for capturing a story in a photograph, you should definitely join this contest.

3. Find rare or unexplored photography niches.

White Singer Sewing Machine on gradient background - make money iPhone photos
With creativity and an eye for design, you can present the most ordinary things in a different light. This is how you can make money
from iPhone photos.

Let’s face it, not every business owner has the time to take picture-perfect photos. This is where photographers come in. 

However, not all businesses want to hire photographers. Some of them resort to stock photo websites. Moreover, there’s a neck-to-neck competition for businesses that employ full-time photographers. 

Now, how can you make things easier? Just like what we said above, you can start by finding niches typically unexplored by most photographers. Find businesses in which photos are rarely professionally taken. 

Additionally, make sure they need it as well. Meanwhile. If they don’t, you can practice the good ol’ sales talk and argue why they need professional photos. 

Take note to stray away from fashion, event, or food photography niches. There are plenty of other niches—you just have to look and ask around. Just check out these weird but real photography niches

Also, you can scan around your local tech products stores, service centers, or car accessories shops. These unglamorous shops might just direly need a keen photographer like you.

Meanwhile, if you want better results, you can invest in a portable photo studio. You can get this portable photo studio shooting tent by EMART, which comes with LED lights and free backdrops in different colors. You can also make the lighting more interesting by using portable LED lights or LED strip lights.

4. Become a brand enthusiast. 

a woman's manicured hand flipping a book, nutty pastry, and latte on posh, smooth gray table. - make money iPhone photos
You can earn by being posting photos and reviews about your favorite product, restaurant, or even place.

With your iPhone and platforms like Pinterest, Instagram, & Twitter, it’s almost effortless to become a brand rep, ambassador, or enthusiast. 

As a brand ambassador, you will help grow a business organically. Some companies pay brand reps by the hour ($10-$12), while other businesses pay by the commission and free products. This is how you can make money from iPhone photos.

If you’re a beginner, you might have to do this for free, at first. Now, if you take time to grow your following, you can charge higher for every photo or video you post. 

Moreover, since you’re representing a business, you have to follow their branding guidelines, so that your relationship will flourish. 

Now, with your knowledge about the niche and your skill in iPh

one photography, you might feel confident carrying 100% of the content production. However, you still need to follow the best practices in photography and posting, especially in platforms such as Instagram. 

You can follow the best practices below. 

How to take and post pictures as a brand enthusiast

  • Observe the main elements of a product’s brand. Or, you can try asking for a copy of their brand book. It will usually have their color palette, photography guidelines, logos, etc. So, if the business agrees to give you a copy, that will be a good starting point. 
  • Follow their competitors’ social media accounts. This will give you an idea about what can you offer better with your representation!
  • Post the right hashtags, not only for relevance and because it will get the company’s attention but also for brevity. Don’t go for “slightly” related hashtags because that will only clog your caption. 
  • Be consistent with your style. Don’t make it too simple or too avant-garde. Stick to the brand’s voice but depict a story, so that your post will be engaging. 

Want some bright insights into branding? You can learn more from this book The Brand Photography Playbook: The Insider’s Guide to Planning Your Photo Shoot and Building a Stand-Out Brand.

RELATED: Complete guide to capturing depth in iPhone photography

5. Design your own digital travel guide and sell it.

digital travel guide books on Buggl. - make money iPhone photos
If you’re a travel nut, you can earn passively by designing your very own digital travel guide book on Buggl.

Are you into travel photography? If you are, then you can make money from iPhone photos by selling travel photos! You can travel the world, take pictures, fact-check, and then create a travel guide. 

This won’t be too simple, though. The travel photography world is saturated, of course, so you should make sure you’re writing better tips and tricks than the next guy/gal. 

Now, since you can take photos with your iPhone, all you need to take care of is the research, the writing, and the creating/selling platform. Want to do everything in one platform? You should try Buggl.

In Buggl, you can design, sell, and buy personalized itineraries. You can sign up as a writer and then you can start creating your digital travel guides. If you’re satisfied with its content, you can publish them and then wait for interested travelers to buy your guide.

Meanwhile, if you want to customize the structure of your digital travel guide, you can also create one on Canva. It has plenty of templates for formal travel guides, which you can also print if you want. 

Don’t know where to start? You can also take inspiration from this book, The Enthusiast’s Guide to Travel Photography: 55 Photographic Principles You Need to Know.

RELATED: Best iPhone camera settings for the Antelope Canyon

6. Become a Google Street View Trusted Photographer.

Did you know that you can make money from iPhone photos with the help of the largest search engine in the world?

Google helps photographers earn by giving them marketing and sales tools? Apparently, Google lets users upload and publish 360 photos of bars and restaurants in exchange for those tools. 

However, before you can get Google’s assistance, you have to apply as a Google Street View Trusted Photographer. This way, you can earn the Google Trusted Pro badge and then access those tools. 

Moreover, after getting a badge, Google will refer you to businesses that request for a 360 photographer.

Here’s how you can reach that status. 

What you’ll need: 

All you need is your iPhone camera’s Panorama mode or any iOS app for capturing 360 photos. However, your iPhone camera can only produce Panorama photos that you can move up and down. 

If you’re serious about this, you can invest in an accessory that allows you to take 360 photos. Such is the Insta360 Nano, which you can attach to your iPhone’s lightning port. This device allows you to take 360 pictures that you can navigate horizontally and vertically. 

How to get a Google Trusted Pro badge

  1. Install the Google Street View app on iOS.
  2. Before you start taking photos, read Google Street View’s criteria for 360 photos.
  3. Next, start uploading 50 photos to the Google servers.
  4. Wait for Google’s invitation to become a Google Street View Trusted Photographer via email.
  5. After filling in the forms, find the “Available For Higher” option and turn it on. 
  6. Wait for the approval so you can display your Google Trusted Pro badge.
  7. Once you receive the badge, you can now access the marketing and sales tools provided by Google.
  8. After you receive the badge, you have to adhere to Google’s sales and branding guidelines. 
  9. If a business hires you as a 360 photographer, make sure to get ownership in writing before anything else. This is because Google doesn’t own any photos. The agreement for copyright should be only between you and the local business owner.

RELATED: How to take 3D pictures on an iPhone

7. Take photos of properties for realtors. 

a minimalist house at twilight - make money iPhone photos
Create a story in an ordinary property photo.

It’s not uncommon for realtors to hire freelance photographers. After all, this is property selling we’re talking about. They only want to hire skilled photographers to capture the beauty in average or meh houses. 

You can also make money from iPhone photos of houses and apartments. Now, their concern might be your use of an iPhone camera. So, how do you build trust? 

The key here is to create a portfolio of gorgeous house photos in your locality, first. Take photos of houses in your locality from different angles, scenes, and perspectives. Be creative. Place them in a blog or an Instagram account, if you can. 

Basically, just show your prospects that you can help them market properties effectively. 

Next, if you haven’t yet, invest in tools and flaunt them—tripod with iPhone adapters, physical filters, and gimbals. 

Remember the 360 photos for Google Street View? If you can invest in a 360 lens for iPhones, you can even offer your prospects a Virtual Reality (VR) tour of a house in the form of a 360 video!

After that, just do your best to close and make the transaction a success. If you succeed, you can start building a client base of realtors, appraisers, and even insurance companies.

Now, since you’re taking photos of houses and landscapes, don’t forget to use a wide-angle lens. Newer models like iPhone 11 and iPhone 11 Pro have ultra wide-angle lenses; however, if you have an older iPhone, you can always get a clip-on wide-angle lens. You can buy a 120-degree wide-angle lens like the TODI wide-angle and macro lens in one.

8. Sell editorial photos. 

editorial photo of church ruins - make money iPhone photos
This is an example of an editorial photo for sale in Shutterstock. It costs US$199.

Are you interested in photojournalism? You can make money from iPhone photos by taking editorial pictures. It will be a good way to start building your credibility in this path. 

Sure, it won’t be as immediately lucrative as other methods in this list. However, you can make this a good starting point for building a high-quality photography portfolio. 

Seasoned photographers sell editorial photos to local publications and news agencies. Larger companies pay a freelance creative fee of $200 to $1000 for editorial photography. Meanwhile, regional, smaller publications pay a fee of $65 or less.

Greta Thunberg frowning in a crowd of children. - make money iPhone photos
Greta Thunberg: A stern young woman.

And since these photos will involve people, most probably celebrities’, you also have to study the editorial photo licensing in the US. That means when you sell a photo to a publication, they can’t use the photo to endorse a product. 

Now, besides selling them to agencies, you can also sell editorial photos as stock. You can look at what Chris Sorensen is doing. He takes photos for publications such as The Wall Street Journal, but he also syndicates them to stock photo sites.

Syndicating a photo will be good for increasing your exposure as an expert but don’t expect to earn huge cash from it. 

What are the tools that will help you become a high-earning photojournalist? Well, earning lies in your talents, but tools like a good flexible tripod, a universal clip-on light, and a gimbal will help. You can also learn from this beginner’s guide to photojournalism.

9. Try joining Visual Society and other similar platforms. 

Visual Society marketplace for photographers who want to sell their portraits and prints. - make money iPhone photos
This is the virtual marketplace of Visual Society for its users.

Visual Society is a site-building platform and marketplace for photographers who want to sell their photos. 

They have monthly subscriptions for their plans, which are the Basic, Pro, and Elite. Each of the plans has features but the Pro and Elite obviously are jam-packed with delicious benefits. Although, all the plans allow you to keep 100% of your sales.

Some of the advantages you can get by subscribing to Visual Society are the following: 

  • Owning an eCommerce shop for your photography service
  • The ability to sell your photos/prints in their marketplace
  • Offering discounts to customers from all over the world
  • 10 galleries and more

If you have already grown a following, discovered your niche, and built a portfolio, we suggest you try joining Visual Society and other similar platforms. 

That’s because your advantage is you have already established your brand and client base. You just need to create a digital shop, where you can streamline all the sales aspects of your photography business.

That’s exactly what the Visual Society is offering. 

Now, if you’re a rookie, you can still try their Basic plan. However, don’t expect to earn instantly on your first few months—unless you put effort into marketing and advertising.  

10. Sign up for stock photo websites/apps that buy photos. 

a man in a garden downloading a photo from Shutterstock
Shutterstock is one of the most well-known stock photography sites.

You can also sign up for Stock Photo apps. Become a member, upload your best stock-quality photo, and start earning. 

Now, this might not be the most lucrative way to earn from your iPhone photos, but it’s a good way to start earning passively. After all, that won’t be forever. Shutterstock, for instance, increases their users’ royalty rates if they surpass the required threshold. 

We also recommend this if you’re recently starting with photography. By signing up for these stock photo sites, you’ll get insights into the industry, most especially what type of photos sell most these days. 

Besides, there’s a shortage of creative and different photos. And more people are searching these websites for those! If you can supply those pictures, then you can easily compile best-selling photos. You can also take some hints from this guide to stock photography that sells: Take Stock Photography that Sells: Earn a living doing what you love.

Here are some of the good stock photo companies we can recommend. 

  1. Foap 
  2. Shutterstock Contributor App
  3. Bigstockphoto
  4. DreamsTime Companion
  5. Depositphotos

More tips if you want to earn from iPhone photography 

Who says talent is enough to succeed in photography? You also have to put in a lot of elbow grease if you really want results or income.

As a result, take heed of these three golden tips before you tap that shutter button. 

1. Study the photo licensing in the US.

You can’t go doing transactions with your clients without even knowing the basics. Because if you’re not careful, you might suddenly find yourself paying fines for copyright infringement. 

Knowing the difference between Editorial and Commercial photo licenses is just scratching the surface. There’s a lot to learn—licensing agreements, photo usage rights, and even the pricing. 

Therefore, we suggest you spend time learning the ins and outs of photo licensing in the US even before you even launch your service. We suggest you read this book, The Copyright Zone: A Legal Guide For Photographers and Artists In The Digital Age.

2. Invest in a photo editing software/app. 

Adobe Lightroom app installation on App Store.
Lightroom on iOS also offers premium features.

To get more, you also have to give more. Consequently, you should be willing to invest in photography accessories and software if you’re serious about earning cash. 

Just think of a photo editing software as a safety net. If you buy a license, you will get instant access and save time in post-processing. 

Additionally, many photo editing apps in iOS provide more manual control and features than your native camera app. 

Adobe Photoshop Express, Lightroom, Snapseed, VSCO—these apps are just the tip of the iceberg. You can find more apps that give you more editing freedom that your iPhone can’t offer. 

3. Know how to sell and more. 

Not all clients will know how to identify a high-quality photo from the get-go. That’s why your role as the seller is to steer them in the right way. 

Don’t punish them for being ignorant or misinformed. Instead, strive to educate them and establish yourself as an industry leader.

Moreover, invest in content marketing—find out the latest industry practices. After that, share them with your followers and prospects. 

People will respond better to people who act like they know what they’re doing. 

In a nutshell…

It’s not impossible to earn sweet cash from your iPhone photos. However, you should expect hurdles, setbacks, and disappointments along the way. 

Nevertheless, as long as you have the guts to actually start, then you’re not far along. Also, just keep subscribing to blogs that give good tips (*wink*), so you won’t get lost and confused. 

Do you know any other ways to earn money from iPhone snapshots? Don’t forget to share them in the comments below!