Sat - March 8, 2008

How to Get Accepted by ShutterStock? Don't Give Up!

ShutterStock seems to be very profitable for most of microstock photographers, usually #1 or #2 earner. ShutterStock is also famous from how difficult for beginner is to get accepted there. You need 7 out of 10 pictures approved from your initial submission or you are welcome to try again in 30 days. It wasn't easy for me:

2 : 8
11/28/2007. I sent my first submission to ShutterStock as soon as I got accepted by iStock. Without much of the research I just selected pictures approved by iStock. The result: 8 of 10 of my pictures were trashed due to noise, grain, artifacts, and poor lighting. See you next month. Surprise, they didn't like my Polaroid transfers.

5 : 5
12/29/2007. I prepared my second submission more carefully. I don't use any noise reduction software, but I reduced size of all pictures to a minimum required by Shutterstock (4 Mp) and avoided pictures with sky areas. All pictures were from my iStock portfolio. The result: only one rejection due to noise, but other 4 due poor or uneven lighting, or shadows. or white balance may be incorrect. Progress?

5 : 5
2/01/2008. The 3rd submission: I included 5 pictures which were not rejected by ShutterStock previously. Some of them were trashed this time, but for reasons like "not in focus or focus is not located where we feel it works best." Also, a new rejection theme showed up: "limited commercial value." See you in 30 days, thank you very much!

8 : 2
3/05/2008. My 4th submission - a couple of old pictures and mostly new ones. Two simple backgrounds. The results: finally accepted! Two rejections were due to limited commercial value (well, there are selling at iStock...). Anyway, the 8 picture portfolio started to bring some quarters even on the very first day at ShutterStock.

My most popular images for sale at Shutterstock:

One lesson to be learned from my story is: Don't give up! There is a lot advice and discussion on-line how to prepare your initial submission for ShutterStock. These two articles are really helpful: Also, it may be a good idea to read carefully ShutterStock submission guidelines, especially, their do's and don'ts:
  • Do read the explanations of the various categories, guidelines for participating in the forums, and possible reasons for receiving rejections (all listed below).
  • Do inspect all images at 100% before uploading them to make sure they are free of noise, dust, and scratches.
  • Do vary the subject matter of your initial 10 images.
  • Do send full-sized images. Don't upsize or downsize images.
  • Do keyword your images carefully. This is how people find your work. Make sure all keywords relate directly to the image. Using a thesaurus to come up with similar words is a bad idea. Think like a designer. If you were looking for your image, what keywords would you search for? For example: most would search for "happy girl", not "mirthful female".
  • Do choose the correct category. If your image cannot fit into two appropriate categories, please only choose one. (*Illustrators: Illustrations go only in the
  • Do keyword your images in English only. We have a language algorithm that automatically translates the image's description and keywords into every language in which we offer the site itself.

  • Don't send images with date stamps or copyright notices.
  • Don't "frame" your work. We don't take any framed images.
  • Don't send snapshots. We do not accept photos with heavy shadows from the on-camera flash. Make sure your images have a clear topic and focus.
  • Don't send 10 pictures of your family pet.
  • Don't send dark or muddy travel pictures.
  • Don't send the same image with slight variations on the angle.
  • Don't send the same image in color, black and white, sepia, and blue tone. Color is enough. If any variation on color actually enhances the image, then you may submit it separately, but we do not want a batch of photos where each is submitted in four different ways.
  • Don't send similar shots when only one is your favorite. Edit on your own. Keep batch sizes of similar subjects down to the bare minimum.
  • Don't send flower pictures labeled "Flower" or "Spring Scene". We only accept photos of flowers that are labeled with the scientific or common name. Labeling plants and animals with their scientific names may increase your sales (*Please avoid sending images that we already have a lot of such as sunsets, flowers, nature, etc.*).
  • Don't submit photos taken from inside an airplane or moving automobile. Consider your composition carefully.

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