Photo Sharing App Looks to Shake Up the News Industry

People snapping pictures of events can now easily make some extra cash for their smartphone images.

Courtesy of

Courtesy of

Next time there is a double rainbow in Boston, there could be a monetary reward at the end of it.

As more news organizations make the decision to lay-off staff photographers, instead using images shared on social media sites, and millions of people continue to snap pictures using their smartphones everyday, Azeem Khan felt like it was time to merge the two scenarios so that everyone could reap the benefits of the digital age.

Using the newly-launched app “Supshot,” a marketplace for user-generated photos cofounded by Khan, those once-in-a-lifetime images that bystanders happen to grab before the mainstream media hit the scene can be sold to outlets at a designated price. “It’s shaking it up. News companies are not as quick as Twitter is anymore. Breaking things are happening and companies are trying to find a quicker way to get these images, but right now their isn’t a simple process to do it,” says Khan, a Boston resident and former biotech worker who recently decided to take on the development of the app on a fulltime basis. “A bunch of people around [a certain situation] are going to upload photos with all sorts of different hashtags, and news organizations will sort through Twitter and Tweet to people and ask ‘do you mind if we use this.’ But now there will be a simple process [through this app].”

According to recent research conducted by the Pew Institute, more than 50 percent of Americans have smartphones, and in times of breaking news, they quickly take out those devices to capture what is happening around them. On top of that, people regularly take photos using their phones, and upload them to social media sites. Khan says with “Supshot,” people with “valuable” photos can start charging news organizations for what they capture, or send them along for free. “We did some research and everywhere we looked there was an archaic way of doing things. Every website—from concerts to festivals—they say ‘send us your photos,’ and no one is going to do that. And sometimes there is no incentive to do it.”

Users can also sell to people interested in owning a photo for its artistic value.

The app, which is still being tweaked, and will include additional settings in the future, will offer four options when trying to distribute a photo, three of which will lead to monetary transactions. A user can connect with an organization and make a transaction for $15, $30, or more, based on what they think it’s worth, or they can set their own price, while at the same time licensing the image. “If you taking something valuable, you should be able to get paid for it,” says Khan.

Currently, all photos are licensed as non-exclusive and royalty-free as Khan and cofounders of Supshot continue work on the app. As the product expands, Khan hopes to incorporate video sharing and distribution into the mix at a cost as well.

Beyond taking photos for the purpose of selling them, the app, using location-based services, lets people follow along with events and see what is happening in a particular area without the use of hashtags and friend requests. Users can view what’s happening on a specific street, or city, simply by typing in the location.

Khan says the move will likely stir some controversy in the news world if it catches on, especially from the standpoint of professional photographers, but in an age where everyone plays the role of amateur photographer, he felt as though it should be embraced as photo sharing continues to rapidly grow. “It’s just a way to let people see what’s going on around them, a social aspect that’s going to bring people together as they are using it,” he says.