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Amateur photographers sell work through crowdsourcing app

by Jeffrey Loa

“Click!” The shutter of Carlos Ngui’s smartphone goes off as he takes a picture of himself standing in front of the bathroom mirror. He has just woken up and is brushing his teeth. But this selfie is not for the 19-year-old City University of Hong Kong student’s friends on Facebook or to be uploaded to Instagram, it’s destined instead for Scoopshot, a photo crowdsourcing mobile app founded in Helsinki, Finland.

With Scoopshot, publishing photographs is no longer the privilege of professional photographers and journalists using expensive digital single-lens reflex cameras. In fact, anyone with a sharp eye and a smartphone can get published and even be paid for it.

Scoopshot currently has a user base of more than 110,000 mobile photographers from 170 countries. Once registered, you can upload photos and videos you think the media or companies would want to publish.

You can earn money by licensing your pictures or by selling them. In 2012, Arto Mäkelä from Finland earned more than $19,000 by responding to a task set by Fonecta, a Finnish directory services company. The task was to take pictures of shops and businesses. Mäkelä took thousands and earned enough for a trip to Miami and the Caribbean.

Simpler tasks may include capturing moments from your daily life. Who knows? A few photos of your messy dorm room with dirty clothes and books lying around may earn you a couple of hundred dollars.

Besides taking pictures yourself, you can set a photo assignment for others.  Ngui’s toothbrushing selfie was for taken for as assignment called “Show Us Your Morning Face” created by Scoopshot. Anyone can create a task. If your favourite band was performing in New York and you could not afford to go, you can create a task to ask people to take pictures of the show for you.

You can also contribute to advocacy work of global non-government organisations.

In 2013, Scoopshot collaborated with the charity Oxfam and the British rock band Coldplay to produce a music video composed of photos and video clips taken by Scoopshooters to highlight the plight of families forced from their homes because of big land deals.

When it comes to breaking news and significant social events, Scoopshot may be the place to turn to. For instance, if you are in the middle of a protest in the streets of Mongkok, your photos may be exactly what media companies want. Perhaps a picture of a protestor throwing IKEA wolf toy Lufsig at the Chief Executive could become an iconic image. News organisations in Hong Kong, like Apple Daily and Metro Daily, crowdsource photos from this mobile app.

Photoscooper Ngui says: “It’s a clever way to provide us with an incentive to take photos… I can’t wait to snap some breaking news.”

Scoopshot is more than about taking selfies and accomplishing tasks. It illustrates the changes in how the media sources images. Photojournalism has become a collaborative work of media producers and media consumers.

Scoopshot is available for iPhones, most Android devices and Windows Phone smartphones. As the saying goes, “a picture is worth a thousand words”, so join the Scoopshot journey now!

Check out Scoopshot’s website to learn more at

Edited by Jeffrey Wong and Esther Leung