Monday, September 7, 2009


I still catch myself thinking unproductively in the face of a fresh rejection. The word on my "binoculars shoot" is coming in from Fotolia. Of the first batch of 6 shots, four were selected, and two were declined.

Of the two refusals, one was, "Your photograph did not reach our desired level of aesthetic quality," and the other was, "The object will not be easily isolated from the background. The object must be captured on a bright seamless background."

There is nothing I can learn from the first message. The reviewer didn't like it. Maybe they didn't like the lighting, the pose, the wardrobe, the focus, the color, the idea- who knows. Whatever they didn't like about it, they couldn't be bothered or didn't have time to give me anything specific. Since I don't have a clue what the issue is, I'll probably send that same reviewer more shots with the exact same problem.

The second one got me. My first response was, "Oh? But the other four on the exact same background were fine? I must have got a bad reviewer. *grumble* *pout*" What's more, the rejected two images were accepted at Shutterstock anyway, and generated three sales there today alone. So, I almost just let it go at that.

But then I thought about it some more. Maybe I got a great reviewer. Maybe he had other uses of my images in mind, like compositing me into something more interesting than a grey background. And maybe he thought about how much easier that would be if I'd lit the background to pure white for him. And last, he could have just given me the lazy rejection response of "Your photograph did not reach our desired level of aesthetic quality," and been done with it. But he didn't, he took the time to let me know what he didn't like, and for a moment, I was acting like a spoiled child.

So, I say, "thank you!" to the reviewer, for taking the time to help me take a better picture next time. Tonight, I'll get myself back in the garage, don my "business guy" shirt and tie, and put some light on that background for you. While I'm at it, I'll shoot a few in portrait orientation as well.

Lessons learned:

1) Rejections can be an opportunity. They can help me expand my thinking, add a twist to a concept, or give me something technical to work on.

2) I should try to think more about how my images will be used, and not just worry about getting a technically good image. For example, there's not necessarily anything wrong with a grey background, but for many uses a blown-out white one will be a lot easier to work with. I'll try for a mix of both in the future.

3) Not every rejection is an opportunity. If the reviewer gives me nothing specific, then there's nothing I can fix. Perhaps the microstock agencies have some things they could improve upon as well...

Changing the subject, I'd been collecting a list of other blogs I follow for a post "one of these days", but today I noticed that one of them had mentioned me! When I first found ShootingStock (Thanks to Bob at picNiche), I immediately went to the oldest post and read the whole thing through in order. Like me, David is just getting started in microstock photography. I loved getting his perspectives on a lot of the same challenges I face. There's something uplifting about knowing there's other people out there on the same journey as I am. Thanks for sharing, David!

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