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[New User] Can I get some help with understanding why certain pictures were rejected?

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Hello everyone,

I signed up to Shutterstock today and uploaded what are basically my best images from the past ten years of casual photography. While some were accepted the vast majority were rejected. Now for most of the images I can totally see what they're talking about, whether they're ever so slightly out of focus or a touch too much grain, but with some of the photos I just can't see what they're talking about. Especially when I compare them to the images that were accepted. The first three I've attached are images that were accepted (black-headed gull, barn owl, leaf), the last three are ones that were rejected (peregrine, brown bird, bumblebee). I just want to understand the methodology here really.

Thanks in advance,



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Edited by William Trewartha-Jones
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There's no rhyme or reason to the review here. Half the time, when something gets rejected, it passes the second time around. In general, look at your images at 100% zoom and check that the important part is in focus. With animals, that is always the eye.

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🙂😏 Twice!!!! That is not very useful.

(Before I upload I zoom in in my photos. When the important part isn't sharp than, they are often rejected. Sometimes you have luck. Sometimes when I have doubts about the rejections I try it for a second time. Sometimes with success.
Completely blurred (the leaf) is more often accepted than slightly blurred

Besides..... Your drone fly on some small white flowers is an Eristalis tenax  🙂

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Just a suspicion but the AI sometimes looks at percentage of sharp vs soft. So the last three have lots of edge softness, even if the subject is in focus. As a result, you'll get a rejection. The owl that passed is rather shallow and isn't in focus really, but the face, beak and eyes are sharp and clear = it passes. Gull is fine all over.

All of the above replies are reasonable guesses as well.

When in doubt, downsize and upload again. 👍

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As many have already stated (to include SS's new CEO) reviews are now done by artificial intelligence and as you have learned, there is no consistency at all.  More than once I have submitted focus stacked images that were rejected for focus.  They were in focus (everything in focus) but the "artificial reviewer" was unable to determine that, as it was not what it had been "taught" to expect.

The same kind of thing happens when unexpected grain appears (i.e. sand, snake scales) in an image.  The "reviewer" assumes it is grain and you get a noise rejection.  The focus standard is quite high and it has to be met but don't expect any consistency in the review process.  There is none!  

Review your rejections at 100% and make the image the best it can be and resubmit at least once.  If it isn't accepted forget about it and go on to the next image.  Keep in mind, we all do a lot of work submitting images that never sell.  Assume your rejections wouldn't have sold anyway (if that will make you feel better). 

Microstock can be a good learning experience but it isn't the money maker it use to be.  For most of us photography is now just an expensive hobby.          

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39 minutes ago, Evgeniia Ozerkina said:

Out of focus except for the leaf. You need to add description the leaf keywords "selective focus", "macro".
Well, the rest of the photos can be reduced in size and try again.

The first three I've attached are images that were accepted (black-headed gull, barn owl, leaf), the last three are ones that were rejected (peregrine, brown bird, bumblebee). I just want to understand the methodology here really.

The first three photos were already accepted Evgeniia. 
 Although the birds are not entirely in focus either. He was lucky with that. The leaves are completely blurred and Shutterstock often accepts that indeed.

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On 1/15/2021 at 7:36 AM, Adam Gladstone said:

If it’s any consolation, I’ve had photos rejected here on SS for being out of focus that were accepted on other sites. I hadn’t much thought of resubmitting as some have suggested (other than one or two where I resubmitted with the phrase “narrow depth of field” when appropriate and got them accepted).

And for the variation on that theme, I've had images accepted here that were rejected at another big site. When I looked closer and more carefully, they probably should have been rejected here too, but AI doesn't see what the humans can.

Win some, lose some. This is the image, tell me what you see? (there is a fairly evident flaw even without looking at 100%)



Another rejection said, buyers aren't likely to be interested in this anyway. 💩 Darn I thought a nice bit of copy space with a rustic old wooden building? Maybe I should concentrate on no window and just the wood. Yeah, not a great idea, now that I look back at it.


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