Thursday, May 6, 2010

Subject Matters

Yesterday, I submitted three images from a recent outing to a water park.

The response from Shutterstock (always the quickest reviewer by far) is in: Two of the three were accepted, but one was not- blowing a pretty good 100% acceptance streak. Looking at the images today, I agree with the reviewer. I'll tell you what he said in a minute, but first. What would be your verdict on this set? Which would you reject and why?

I had one other rejection, from another set. For the same reason. It was one of these two:

Any guesses?

Here's what the reviewer had to say:

Composition--Limited commercial value due to framing, cropping, and/or composition.

What I think they meant was this: In the rejected shots, you cannot really see a facial expression. This makes it very difficult to form an emotional connection to the image, which evokes no "gut response". Thus, the image isn't really suitable for any kind of storytelling, and probably does indeed have "limited commercial value".

In all of the accepted images, you can clearly see an expression, and can very easily guess the emotional state of the model. You might even connect to one or two of them. Do they evoke any memory or emotion? They do in me, but I am biased.

Of course, there will be exceptions to this general rule. I'm sure there are plenty of great sellers that include a human subject and convey no emotion through facial expression. But, I think that for the stuff I shoot, it'd be a good idea to think about the emotion and storytelling of an image before submitting. If I'm going to all the trouble of creating an image with a human subject, I suppose I may as well include their face. Unless, of course, I have a specific reason not to...

This is probably something that comes up in Photography 101. Unfortunately, that was a class I never managed to squeeze into my ten years of college...

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