Apple Says It Will Pay ‘Shot on iPhone’ Photo Contest Winners After Backlash

Apple in recent years has used photos shot by its own in-house agency of professional photographers using photostaken on iPhones for Apple’s‘Shot On My iPhone’ marketing promotions.

However, this year Apple went public with a “Shot on iPhone Challenge” inviting public users of iPhone’s camera feature to submit photos which would be eventually used in Apple’s future marketing. 

In the contest document explaining the challenge, here is the paragraph regarding ‘Prizes’:  “6. Prize(s). Ten (10) winning Photos will be featured on Apple Newsroom, Apple’s Instagram channel,, in Apple retail stores, and billboards around the world, as determined by Sponsor in its sole discretion. Prize is non-transferable. No substitutions or cash redemptions. Prize has no cash value.

Ten winning photos but no dollar remuneration offered. No licensing fee offered either.

It’s no wonder that three days after Apple’s announcement, a torrent of outrage response was posted on social media from potential photographers and artists to the fact that there would be no compensation of any kind in any way.

Given the fact that Apple is not lacking in wealth, the backlash is understandable. That Apple would use a winner’s photo and assume the winners would only be satisfied with exposure is unrealistic. 

Not only that, there is no mention in the ‘Shot on iPhone Challenge’ document that any licensing fee would be paid to artists at all. The posted backlash on social media is a response by artists to an industry wide practice of expecting artists to hand over free work only in exchange for exposure.

Even if the contest were for non-professional photographers who don’t make a living in the photo business world, winning a prize of just receiving exposure isn’t enough!

Apple did update that paragraph on ‘Prizes’ to: “Apple believes strongly that artists should be compensated for their work. Photographers who shoot the final 10 winning photos will receive a licensing fee for use of such photos on billboards and other Apple marketing channels.

There still remains no clear understanding of how much winners will receive from the licensing fees awarded to them.  It was suggested on one Twitter tweet that a $10,000 prize would be a good starting point.

Past ads for Apple’s ‘Shot on iPhone’ have always made it seem as though those photos were shot by non-professionals.  But they weren’t.  They were shot by professional photographers from Apple’s in-house ad agency. That’s why they look so fantastic!