Technically speaking - More reasons images are rejected

Posted Wednesday, 3 November 2010 by Ellen Boughn in Ellen Boughn, Photography
Last week I posted about why images are rejected due to subject, composition or cropping issues. This week, hold on to your Photoshop hat as we go over the common technical mistakes that cause photos to be refused by inspectors and reviewers.

I've heard it again and again from successful stock photographers, "I don't understand these inspectors: I'm sending in great stuff and it gets rejected for technical reasons." They are usually angry...and sometimes at me!

You might ask yourself, "What's the big deal? Who cares?" I'll tell you who cares. Those who you want to download your photos. Of the nearly 200 photos in my book, Microstock Money Shots, only one ended up being rejected by the publisher. It was a photo that had somehow squeaked by the reviewers. It had been rezed up from a small file to a large file. Lucky for the photographer, it was chosen to be a chapter opener. Unlucky for me, it was rejected at the last minute when it was discovered to not actually be a high res photo capable of carrying a full page. Someone had to pay once it was discovered late in the game…and it was me, again.

If you don't provide acceptable images at the actual size, you will possibly end up turning away a customer from your work and that of the site that you are on. No one wins.

Listen up. Ask yourself, "Do I submit images with any of the following problems?" If so, stop!

Some problems obvious to a reviewer at first glance:
  • The date stamp was active and the time/date show on frame
  • The photo is out of focus
  • The depth of field is too shallow for the subject
  • Lighting and contrast (too much, too little)
  • An image has been submitted upside down or sideways
Some technical errors are subtle. These are why you must ALWAYS check your work at 100% before submitting:
  • Image appears sharp but at 100% is soft
  • Dirt on the sensor or lens created spots on the image that haven't been removed
  • Fringing (chromatic aberration) in highlights
  • Critical aspects of the composition are blown out due to over exposure
  • Obvious clipping paths
  • Posterization in shadows often due to underexposure
  • Poor composites
  • Artifact/compression flaws due to too much interpolation
  • For illustrators: Poor gradation in tones (lots of stripes through images)


© elfthryth/Crestock

My father had a very personal way of focusing his camera...he stood in front of his favorite lovely mother...and then moved forward or backward until she was in focus. This is not recommended and even my Dad had to give it up after a trip to the Arizona desert found his backside in direct contact with a cactus as he stepped backwards in order to bring my mother into focus.

Remember to learn from your rejections and don't take them personally – they are better than a poke in the eye (or a sharp pain somewhere else – like my Dad received!)

Ellen Boughn

Ellen has over thirty years of experience in the stock business gained at such organizations as Dreamstime, UpperCut Images, Workbookstock, Corbis, Getty (Stone), The Image Bank (Artville) and the creative agency, After-Image, she started in Los Angeles at the beginning of her career. Having been directly involved in the creation of four major stock photography collections, Ellen offers her decades of experience to assist photographers seeking success in stock photography.

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Ellen Boughn's best-selling book, Microstock Money Shots, is filled with insights, tips and advice on how to create commercial images and improve your work flow to profit from photography whether you're a hobbyist or a professional photographer.
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By Vic on Wednesday, 1 December 2010 6:51 AM
Would you clasify the image underneath your article as "The depth of field is too shallow for the subject"?

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