Online microstock photos marketplace Fotolia, a Shutterstock rival now based out of New York, is today making another move on mobile with the launch of an app that allows users to earn money from their smartphone photos. The app, Fotolia Instant, is much like many of the social photos apps on the market in that it lets you snap photos, apply filters, then share. But it also includes more professional tools, too – for example, it allows you to manually control exposure and aperture separately.
The photos are submitted to a new “Instant Collection” on Fotolia, where they have to meet the same quality and esthetic requirements that already exist on the stock photos site. The company says that means these smartphone photos will go through the same moderation and inspection process that other submissions do, despite the photos coming from mobile. In addition, people who appear in the photos can sign the authorization form directly on the iPhone’s screen and send their photo ID for identification purposes via the app.
By making it possible to submit photos directly from smartphones, Fotolia is hoping that will allow both professional and non-professional photographers to explore this new platform while allowing the company to create a new stream of revenue.
Photography enthusiasts have taken to various consumer-facing services and apps over the years, including sites like Yahoo’s Flickr and, more recently, with the growing Toronto-based photo-sharing service 500px, which raised its $8.8 million A round this summer. These sites serve as a way for photographers to build an audience and establish a profile or portfolio, but today stop short of offering commercial marketplaces for photos (though 500px says this is now in the works). Fotolia Instant is aiming to attract those same enthusiast users, while also pulling in more photos from pro photographers who want easier tools for mobile submissions.
Once live on Fotolia’s Instant Collection, the photos are sold for 3 Credits (a price that equates to around $3, depending on the user’s package). Those contributing to the collection will then see royalties from the sale of the photos at the same percentage as Fotolia’s other photographers.
The company explains that the addition of the new collection will allow end users to source photos that have a more updated, modern and “in the moment” look to them. That would be an advantage over some rivals, whose stock photo collections feel dated, fixed and posed. As Fotolia’s Director of Marketing (N. America) Leo Tran recently explained, “the application is our way of supporting the ‘phonography’ community and the changing needs of consumers,” he said. “We think this release will be an important one for photography as we will be the first major worldwide microstock agency to fully throw our support towards ‘phonography’ and be able to deliver a curated collection on a greater scale because of our worldwide presence.”
He says the arrival of the Fotolia Instant mobile app is not so much a new direction for the company overall, but one that it hopes will better leverage current technological and social trends around the sharing of mobile photos.
The new app’s launch comes nearly a year and a half after Fotolia’s raise of $150 million in growth equity from KKR (Kohlberg Kravis Roberts & Co. L.P.) in May 2012, in exchange for a 50 percent stake. At the time, the company offered a catalog of over 17 million images and videos that could be licensed by customers worldwide. Today, that number has grown to 24 million, the company reports. And there are now more than 4 million members using the site across 15 languages.
Fotolia Instant is available for download here on iTunes. An Android app is due next month, and an iPad app will soon follow which will also allow users to browse Fotolia’s library and download images to their devices or Dropbox accounts.