Tips to avoid stock photo rejections


For beginners to stock photography, one of the most intimidating parts of submitting their photos is fear of rejection.

When we’re emotionally attached to our photos, having them get “rejected” sounds terrible.

The truth is, rejections are actually one of the best ways to learn.

Plus, once you understand the main things to watch out for, you’ll quickly reach the point where rejections become fewer and fewer.

Here are some of the most common reasons for stock photo rejections:

  • Image Quality. First and foremost you want to make sure your images are technically solid before you submit for stock. Focus problems, exposure issues, or excessive grain and pixelation are sure to lead to rejections.

Inspecting your photos at 100% magnification by zooming in on your computer will help you catch these types of problems before you submit them. You want to make sure that your main subject is in sharp focus and that your overall image isn’t too bright or too dark.

  • Missing Model Release. The rule is pretty simple- if you have recognizable people in your shot, you need a model release. Even if they are a small part of the overall picture or aren’t looking directly at the camera. Since stock images are typically meant to be sold for commercial use, if you forget to include a signed model release with your submission, the shot will get rejected straight away.
  • Copyrighted Elements. When you’re new to shooting for stock it can be easy to miss trademarked symbols or copyrighted logos sneaking into your scene. These things are everywhere, especially on clothing, signs, sporting equipment, and electronics. Try to hide or exclude them while you’re shooting, or plan on removing them in post processing before you submit for stock.

Keep these things in mind and you’ll catch potential issues early, saving yourself valuable time.

That said, remember that everyone gets image rejections now and then. It’s a normal part of the process and one of the best ways to hone your skills.

— Daniel