It’s been a while but Microstock library 123RF.com has taken almost forever just to make an Android app for RF photo submissions and it just made it to the Playstore. For some years, 123RF had an iOS app, called 123RF OTG which gives you the freedom to submit photos shot on the iPhone but it never did bother with Android community until now.
For the record, Microstock libraries are niche type operations and offer extended licensing. What is this licensing all about? Think of it as having pawned your crown jewels before ever having a chance to use them—with the business model similar to that of the oldest profession in the world.
How does it Work?
First, you have to submit a photo that is shot on a a 5 megapixel mobile device camera, have that vetted by their own team of photo editors before being approved for sale on the site. Now sale is misleading as they count towards downloads instead of image sale. What you get is 30 percent if you make it pass their censors and more if you happen to contribute more regularly.
Unlike FOAP that specialises in Editorial images, 123RF has commercial potential as they accept images with models and sell them with verified model releases. If it was at a specific location, you also need a property release, like if you posed a model next to the MI5 Building in London or the CIA headquarters in Langley, USA. Failure to do so could land you in a jail with the keys thrown away for good measure.
The vetting process should take a few days, depending on how free they are to look at your badly mauled Instagram inspired pictures. Once it is up, you also need to send in your complete verified details as photographer and owner of the images you have submitted. This way, no one will claim that you lifted their pictures off Flickr for misrepresentation.
At the moment, 123RF also accepts news pictures and video feeds as well but that’s another story. You cannot be shooting a video and posting it to them via this app they have created. They take any 1080p video feed so you can try to shoot something with your smartphone and see if that sells. Uploading on the other hand has to be done via a web browser.
Benefits of Signing Up
There is one benefit, that is 123RF has specially created contest submissions you can take part in just to spice things up on your mobile. The contest will have different themes and you can submit any photos that fits into that category and win yourself US$300 bucks. That’s a pretty good deal compared to the returns you get from your images to the stock agency.
The other benefit is that the contributor account you have with them also qualifies you to submit artworks, audio and video files. This is pretty interesting as you can record unique soundbites and have them submitted as well.
Before we jump the gun, the smartphone app only allows you to submit photos and not anything else. All other submissions have to be done via their web browser.
Dude, Show me the Money!
To be frank, it is not very lucrative for the smartphone photographer to indulge his or her passion in microstock photography. 123RF works on a per-download basis so you don’t get paid on per use. They use a popularity system and pay 30 percent on that but it can go as high as 60 percent. If you have more downloads from that image, you score more on their scale. They don’t even have a published rate that speaks in layman terms! All the earnings information is available to you only if you didn’t fail maths in school. Beyond that, you can only hope that they are not out to bamboozled you out of your day to day earnings. Cashing out can be done via Skrill or Paypal. Minimum is US$50 bucks so to make that cut, you should have at least 500 image downloads. You do earn more for other submissions like artworks, eps vectors, audio and video. Smartphone Images are unfortunately categorised as cannon fodder. Works shot on a DSLR is more highly rated and if suitable for print, you can earn far more.
123RF transitions to this mode of payment only recently. Just to make it cheaper for publishers and image buyers. They even have a weird Creative Commons giveaway, where you give up all rights to the photos for free to use. These gimmicky approach is to attract would be image buyers to sign up but I think it’s a waste of effort. It will no doubt attract the free loading content thieves who ply the Flickr route.
Whatever you do, don’t quit your day job just to live the life of a pro-stock photographer. The commission you earn isn’t going to help you pay that mortgage but it could pay for the tent you had in mind for camping out in the woods.