By Dominic Ponsford
Celebrity news agency Splash is aiming to turn mobile phone-touting citizen journalists into "people paparazzi" via its new Cash4pix website.
It claims that such amateur pictures have already netted it thousands of dollars in fees.
The US-based, but British-owned and staffed, agency claims that lucrative amateur pictures of stars such as Colin Farrell, Britney Spears and Angelina Jolie have already earned up to $30,000 a piece for the punters who sent them in.
And now it is urging members of the public, who have so far mainly made their mobile phone images available for free to news websites, to cash in.
Agency co-founder Gary Morgan said: "Anyone with a camera can get on-the-scene exclusives before the media even know what has happened, and make good money.
"With the digital revolution, anyone can get the cover of a major magazine or the front page of a national newspaper.
Splash has led the way in selling the public’s images to magazines and newspapers around the world."
He said scoops (pictured above) sent to Splash from members of the public include: Paris Hilton kissing her lover, for which it paid $7,500; Colin Farrell kissing a girl in a New York bar, which cost $4,500; and Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie spotted in Canada, which was worth $30,000. According to Splash, the average news photo is likely to sell for between $75 and $300.
The agency’s Cash4pix website (www.splashnews.com) uses the same technology as many newspaper websites to enable people to send in pictures direct from their mobile phones.
Morgan said that so far only about one per cent of the pictures it receives via the website are usable, but he added: "They are getting better all the time."
He said: "The chances are that the next picture of a top star with a new lover isn’t going to come from a professional photographer, it’s going to come from someone sitting next to them in a restaurant."