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One thing that every stock photographer has in common is rejections.

No matter how good of a photographer you are, sometimes submissions will get kicked back. It just goes with the territory when it comes to stock photography.

Although the word ‘rejection’ sounds scary, it’s really no big deal. All it means is that, for whatever reason, the photo inspector didn’t think that particular image was right for their collection.

Let’s look at five common reasons photos get rejected:

  1. Missed focus. This is a big one- your subject needs to be sharp. Use a tripod in low light conditions or be sure to use a fast enough shutter speed so that you aren’t getting camera shake.
  2. Digital noise. Shooting at a high ISO setting causes grainy photos. While some noise (grain) is ok, too much can get a photo declined. Noise is easy to reduce using editing software such as Adobe Lightroom. Read more about that here.
  3. Lacking commercial value. Remember, stock photos are usually used to convey ideas and sell things. Your image might be beautiful art, but keep in mind that it also needs to be useful to buyers.
  4. Poor lighting. Make sure the lighting enhances your subject. You generally want to avoid harsh shadows or overexposed highlights. Also, be sure that your white balance is correct to avoid strange color casts from your light source.
  5. Visible logos. Anything that is branded or trademarked can’t show up in stock photos. Check all clothing and props for any logos that could be sneaking in, no matter how tiny.

Rejections are nothing to fear. They are actually one of the best learning opportunities!

If an image gets sent back, make sure to read the provided reason for clues as to why the rejection happened.

This kind of direct feedback in invaluable and it will absolutely make you a better photographer! A few rejections will ultimately make you more successful in the long run.

stock photo rejections to success

Also, as you become more experienced with stock photography, you’ll find that rejections become far less common. You’ll hone your eye, and you’ll learn to avoid potential problems as you’re shooting.

Here’s two last bits of advice:

  • Don’t take rejections personally. Although it can be frustrating at first, you can always fix or reshoot an image and try submitting it again.
  • Make sure to zoom in to 100% on your computer when looking over your photos. Viewing an image at full size is the only way to spot some of the technical problems mentioned above.

Now get your camera out and start creating some stock photos to submit!

[Editor’s Note: Learn more about getting started selling your photos online in stock agencies – no matter how much or little photography experience you have – in the Breakfast Stock Club e-newsletter. It’s once a week, and it’s free to join, here.]

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