How to deal with refusals in stock photography
You have submitted your images and you got your first results back. Some images were refused and you feel like stock is not for you and the reviewers have something against your photographs.
Stay calm, take a deep breath and read the refusal reasons.
Think about the fact that the Editors have seen thousands of images, some even hundreds of thousand. I have seen about 2.6 million images since I started work as an image reviewer, out of which I accepted 60% to 65%. Reviewers know what is a good stock contender and what is not, they know which images are good enough to go online, they have nothing against you, or your photos, they are just trying to keep the quality up.
In the unlikely and very rare event that they were indeed wrong, a simple email with a request to take a second look will suffice for the image to get approved but, keep in mind that you should only write such an email if you notice the refusal reason is off-topic.
Common refusal reasons that you will encounter on Dreamstime are:
- poor lighting – many times you will need to adjust lighting to fit stock requirements. Take a look again at what sells best, really well lit images where features are clear, and colors are bright. You can overexpose your images by 1/3 stop to make them stand out even more.
- lack composition – beware of this reason. Compositions need to tell a story, you can’t just put the eye to the viewfinder and shoot along. Get used to think your compositions before pressing the trigger button. Give depth to your images, don’t make them flat.
- not RF stock: – this is usually for snapshots but we established that we’re not going to upload any of those so you should be safe.
- distorted pixels or noise are technical reasons that you need to avoid. Down-sample your images if you suffer from these issues, better to have a smaller crisp and clear image than a large one full of noise or distortion. Be careful at applying filters in post processing, over-filtering the image results in distortions as well.
- over-filtered is also a reason you may encounter; post process your images subtly and only apply strong filters where the need arises, landscapes, sunsets, dramatic images.
- too many similar submission – no need to submit all 50 shots of that beautiful red rose. Settle for two or three, or even just one, but make them special.
- model release refusals – can range from MR incomplete to mode release in another language, model release lacks ID and other such issue. Read my blog post on copyright and model releases and follow the advice in it.
- subject too specific – is a reason that applies to editorial images and it means just that, the subject of your image is too specific. It usually applies to images of single brands, logos, obscure landmarks.
- too many image from the same event, is also an editorial reason. Select the best images from a happening, don’t submit your whole card load to your portfolio.
These are the main refusal reasons that you might encounter, there are a few other minor reasons that you could receive but they are pretty self explanatory.
Learn from your mistakes, many of the issues in your images can be fixed. Read the reasons and look at your images again. You can resubmit them once they are fixed.
If there is something you don’t understand contact support with your image ID and they will forward you message to the reviewer who saw your photo. A reply with a more detailed explanation will be provided by the editor.
So, refusals are not the end of your stock career, they are only the beginning, the better you will get at it the less refusals will reach your inbox and the more images you’ll have online.
Don’t forget to read my other posts on stock photography and the submission process.
Coming soon: more about lighting and composition in stock photography, how to bend the traditional rules in your advantage.