Clashot is an iPhone app that sets out to turn the photos on your iPhone into cash in your pocket. Does it really work? Read on.
Newspapers, magazines, websites, and book publishers have an insatiable hunger for fresh photos. Using cameraphones to increase the pool of available pictures is a clever notion, and Clashot is one of the numerous players in this hot new business. Simply put, you upload your pictures to their service and they provide exposure for your work, making it available to media buyers all over the world. Anyone can buy your photos and make use of them, and you and Clashot split the profits.
Clashot comes from the people at Depositphotos, a stock photo resource used by loads of media agencies, as well as individuals like me and you. It’s not entirely clear what the relationship is like between the two entities. Do Clashot photos show up at depositphotos.com, or vice versa? I have no idea, and couldn’t determine any way of finding out.
Photos you upload are grouped into “Reports,” or folders with titles and tags. You can theme these Reports around specific events, locations, people, etc. It makes logical sense to group things this way, and the presentation is nicely designed.
I was disappointed to find that the built-in camera is very limited. It has nothing to offer aside from pinch-to-zoom. There’s no way to lock the focus and exposure — which seems like a no-brainer of a feature for taking pro-level photos — there are no editing tools, no filters, no cropping, no anything. Clearly, if you’re going to have any decent photos to contribute to Clashot‘s database, they’re going to come from a source outside the app (like the excellent Snapseed).
You can easily upload any picture from your phone’s photo reel, and then tag, title, and make them available for sale. The first time I tapped on one of my uploaded pictures to add a title and tags, the app crashed. Not a promising start.
Unfortunately, my experience never quite recovered from there. When I tried uploading a second photo later, it took almost a full hour to complete. That’s one hour for a single, standard-sized image, when my uploads to the likes of Instagram and Facebook are virtually instantaneous. To give Clashot a fair shake, I went back and tried to access their photos again at night. (My first attempt was early afternoon.) I got the same results — or lack thereof — at both times of the day.
The library of photos is impressive, but the search function leaves a lot to be desired. For example, I tried searching for a current hot topic in the news — the Boston Marathon bombings — and got back zero results. I find that astonishing. Surely there are pictures from the Marathon, the aftermath, the capture of the suspect, etc. But reaching them is seemingly impossible.
Likewise, it appears that there are tons of photos taken by others that are available to view and purchase, but getting to them proved problematic. Sometimes it worked: I searched for “Canadian Mounted Police” and got dozens of results back, all accurate. But when I searched for “iPad,” I got gazillions of results — yet they were all blank. The listings were there but the app refused to display the photos themselves.
All in all, the problems I experienced with this app seem to boil down to connection issues. Sure, it’s not the most attractive app ever, but it’s competently designed and (most of the time) works as it’s intended to. Maybe I caught Clashot at a bad time; perhaps they were experiencing a server crash or network hiccup or something. I know it wasn’t a problem on my end, as I’m always connected while doing my work, and there were no slowdown problems in any of my other apps or devices.
Connection issues aside, Clashot is a fairly good online store for buying and selling photos. The thing is, there’s not much in there to sweeten the deal for potential users. The success of these cash-for-pics apps comes down to the number of shoppers they bring to viewing your photos, and the overall amount of successful sales they regularly produce. And you have to draw comparisons to the competition: Foap, Pictorama, VukeeM, others. Many of those other apps provide editing software and tools, as well as being more aesthetically interesting.
The truth is, even though these kinds of services can bring home some money for us amateurs, the chances of making any real income to speak of are remote. Modern smartphones make it so easy to take good looking photos, that it takes a lot more than clever angles and cool filters to catch a buyer’s eye. What we need is an app that helps photographers not just make their images available for sale, but that provides smart new tools for helping them establish a brand identity and stand out from the crowd.
Maybe some future updates will resolve the connection issues I experienced. Right now, I can’t find much in Clashot that makes the cash-for-pics process worthwhile.