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Reviewing, A day in the life

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#1 rinderart


    Veteran Photographer and Instructor Laurin Rinder

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Posted 21 June 2006 - 11:13 PM

This was sent to me by a very good friend and reviewer of long standing and a great photographer. I want you all to read this, And read it again. Forget about me being frustrated with amataurs, Focus on what these good people do day in and day out. I for one would shoot myself. Please do better, If not for yourselves, for them. and you think you have a tough job?? forget about it. Respect them. here it is from me through her and what her life is about. Learn!!!

Here's a small slice of one day in the life of a reviewer ...

I reviewed all day long, about 10 hours I think, and today was one of those days where all I saw were images that were not in focus at all, anywhere in the photo, .... artifacts, noise and blurriness all at the same time, ... underexposed images, ... blown highlights, ... color fringing, ... and over-saturated colors that painfully hurt my eyeballs to look at them....

One person uploaded 34 of the same image of a box, with the box made a different color in each one.

Another person uploaded 23 images of a dead tree stump, underexposed, noisy, colorless, boring old tree stump. What was his fixation with that stump?? Had he never seen one before? Did he think he was bringing something new and exciting to the world?

Oh, and then there were the typical porn shots that pop up out of nowhere. You wouldn't believe some of the stuff that people send in!!!! Playboy quality they're NOT. Ugly, ugly naked people in the weirdest poses, underexposed, noisy, just awful! Well, the pics were underexposed, the people were definitely OVERexposed. The faces that people make while trying to look sexy are hilarious though, so they’re good for a laugh or two before refusing them. And today I had to be the one to refuse some *exquisite* images of someone sitting on a toilet taking pictures of herself sitting on the toilet, undies down around her ankles and everything. Imagine that.

What else? Hmmm ... I reviewed the usual slew of images of the photographer's feet, road signs, traffic lights, telephone poles, power stations, wind farms, the “one tree in a field” shots (you have no idea how many photos of lone trees in fields there are in the world), close-ups of tree bark and brick walls, noisy sunsets, noisy sky and cloud images that wouldn't even be pretty if they were noise-free, and office buildings ... I hate office buildings now! I've seen waaaay too many skyscrapers. This one guy must specialize in photos of office buildings ... (that's all that he ever sends in) ... Today ... 45 images of tall buildings. I passed on reviewing his images, left them for someone else. I could not look at that many pictures of the top floors of office buildings against a noisy sky, shot from street level. Can you spell ... b.. o.. r.. i.. n.. g ??? In most of the images the buildings look like they’re going to fall over backwards and they all have purple fringing where the sky and the building meet.

Money shots. Man, if I had all the money I’ve seen in images of money … I could retire today. Everyone shoots their money! I am so sick of looking at the same pictures of money over and over again. Every single person shoots the same darn thing … stack up the coins, lay out the bills, spread out the coins, stack up the bills. Shoot it landscape, then shoot it portrait, then shoot it macro. Nothing ever changes. And keywords … what in the heck does a macro shot of a dollar bill have to do with breasts and teamwork and business, naked, nude and sexy? Today I came upon 58 images of money from just one person. He had 70 plus keywords for each image, used the same ones for each image, of which only 10 actually applied to the images. Annoying as hell. I started to fix his keywords but then just sent them all back to him to fix himself. I had other images that were waiting for approval, I wasn’t about to let him slow down the approval process for everyone else because he was spamdexing, he can resubmit the best 4 or 5 with corrected keywords.

Oh, and I saw more than my share today of cars driving on the road at night … those blurred tail light images ... those streaks of red or orange in the blackness. We get hundreds of those. Hundreds and hundreds a day. I always pass on reviewing those too because I just want to reject the whole lot and I’d rather leave those to someone who can be more objective about them than me because I’m just sick to death of looking at them. Most of the time they’re noisy and the composition is poor at best. Besides, how many of those does an agency need anyway?

Speaking of blurs, I reviewed more shots today from the person who only takes “from the hip” shots of strangers walking on the street, in the mall, in the grocery store and clothing stores. They’re crooked, not focused, blurry and noisy. He types in his description … “tilted and blurred to show speed and movement”. Who does this guy think he’s fooling … it’s crooked because he shot from his hip to avoid having to get a model release and blurred because he didn’t grab a focus on the subject! And if the person(s) face in the photo is still a bit recognizable, not a problem for this guy! He grabs the smear tool and smears the offending face into a blurry glob that looks like a huge grease spot on the image! How special is that?

And those damn USB plug images with the narrow slit of clear focus area! ... Holy Mary, I see at least a hundred of those every time I review ... I can always tell the photographer is a guy when I see 10 -15 images of a USB plug, taken from every conceivable angle; first his black plug, then his white plug, then both of them together for a nice change of scenery. And don't get me started on the multi-colored ones! God, I hate USB plugs.

CDs, compact discs. Excluding a handful of men photographers ... every other guy in the world sends in multiple pictures of his cds, his cell phone, his TV remote, his ugly, hairy feet (in various poses), his computer keyboard, his ink pen, his booze bottles, his motherboard (is he actually taking his computer apart for this exquisite shot?), along with the infamous USB plug shots. And then he gets out his camera equipment and shoots every lens, every lens hood, his tripod (in various heights) and his old camera. And that gives him one heck of an idea! He has some old film! So he unrolls that and shoots it; he doesn't need that stuff anymore now that he's gone digital. Then he shoots the little black container that the film came in. Over white. Then he goes out to the garage and shoots his tools and tool boxes and then turns to his car. The headlights.! Hell, why not? So we get shots of the headlights, then the side view mirrors and then if he has some chrome on the car he shoots that (with his reflection in it, unbeknownst to him). And then he shoots the tires and the wheels, getting in real tight on those lug nuts (did he remove the hub cap too?). He then gets out his keys to unlock his car to shoot his latest brainstorm idea, the speedometer series .... but another idea hits first … He shoots the car keys! That's good for about 12 shots. Keys alone, keys in his outstretched hand, keys on the hood, keys on the seat, keys held up against a noisy sky, keys in the toolbox, keys in his other hand, keys on one finger, etc. Then he opens the car door and shoots the speedometer and the gas gauge with the car not running, so the speedometer reads zero … but he names the shot “SPEEDING FAST”! ... And if he has a gear shift knob that he thinks is cool, he shoots that too. Now he's run out of things to shoot ... because everything else in the house belongs to his wife. Right? Except that grill out in the backyard! Hell yeah, so he goes out there and shoots the barbeque grill! Puts charcoal in it and shoots the charcoal. Lights the charcoal and sits there drinking a beer while waiting for the charcoal briquettes to glow red for the next shot in that series. He shoots his beer bottle. Full, then empty. He shoots his cigarette, the ashtray, the pack of cigarettes, his lighter. The coals are finally red, he shoots them. Then he puts pork chops on the grill ... and this is the fun part ... he's so busy taking shots of the meat cooking that I can see they’re burned black on the bottom of the grate in the next 6 shots of the meat on the grill series. And he's snapping happily away, I guess. Not knocking men, but that's what most of the beginners shoot, honest to God.

Except for the guy who shoots footwear. He takes photographs on not-quite-white backgrounds with poor lighting, of every pair of shoes in his house. Doesn’t matter who they belong to, he shoots them. Old ones, new ones, men's, women's, kids. He even shoots slippers. He poses them, too. Right shoe up, left shoe down. Left shoe up, right shoe down. Right shoe toe over left shoe toe and opposite. Heels together. Toes together. One pair, then two pair, then three pair together. He lines them up, puts them in a circle, puts them in a square, stacks them up, gets very creative with those shoes. 42 noisy images of his family shoes. Y A W N ….

Speaking of guys ... today I reviewed (again) the guy who takes pictures of his tools ... every single screwdriver in his tool box, and he has the large set. He takes a picture of one, then adds one and I get a picture of two, then he adds another for a picture of three ... etc, etc, until he has his entire set of screwdrivers all lined up for the final shot in the series. I hate that man's tools! He must sit up nights just thinking about what formation he can place his screwdrivers in for the next series. He's already done a straight line series, a square series and a circle series with them. And then he went and bought new screwdrivers with a different color handle! He's starting all over again! That man needs to get a life.

And food shots. Strawberries are really popular now, for about the past 2 months I’ve seen every strawberry purchased and eventually eaten by a stock photographer, photographed from every possible angle. I’ve even seen the shots they took while eating the strawberry! Did they hold the camera at arm’s length to get that out of focus shot? Strawberries must be in season. If I have to review one more strawberry shot ... you might as well just shoot me. I can’t even eat them anymore, I pass them right by in the supermarket.

During the weeks leading to Easter it was much worse though … we were inundated with eggs for about 90 days straight. Just eggs … eggs on white, eggs on black, brown eggs on white, brown eggs on black, brown eggs on top of white eggs, white eggs on top of brown eggs, and a few colored egg shots thrown in the mix for good measure.

And that reminds me of keywording; don’t even get me started on keywords! Every single egg shot had the words chicken, bunny, bird and Jesus ! in the keywords and there was no chicken, bunny or bird in the shot at all, just a plain old oval egg or two, and I never did see Jesus. Then they added a few more choice words so buyers could easily find that awesome egg shot … such as nest, holiday, restaurant, kitchen, house, earth, backdrop, artistic … and the old standby words that are always added to every single image, regardless of content … background, backdrop, air, natural, concept, conceptual, metaphoric, metaphorical, metaphor, sex, sexy, sexual, hot, naked, nude, woman, babe, breasts, butt, ass, tits, nipples, office, team and business. Interestingly, the latest keyword sensation is to add the words air, background and backdrop to every single image as well. I thought air was a given in an image … do buyers specifically search for photos with the keyword AIR? If so, what are they looking for? An image of an egg? And is everything they shoot, from their great uncle Jeb cutting his toenails (a gross shot) to the macro shot of their dog’s tongue (another gross shot), considered a background?

Most of the offending persons mentioned above don’t have a clue about composition or the rule of thirds, don’t know how to do much with their cameras other than press the shutter release, and they definitely do not have an “eye” for art or photography. But it’s not only men who take bad shots.

There's this one woman who sends in pictures of whomever she's sitting across the dining table from, while they're taking a bite of something. Her subject always looks surprised and extremely annoyed in the photos, while he's stuffing his face with food. The images are terrible and don't get approved, but what a waste of time to have to even review them! You can tell she has a point and shoot ... and she just points that thing and clicks away too ... they're not in focus, noisy, blurry, crooked, bad exposure shots. I doubt that she's ever had an image approved, yet she keeps on sending more in, and today I had to refuse yet more of these awful snapshots!

Women mostly shoot flowers. Today I saw hundreds of blurry, oversaturated flowers with blown highlights and artifacts thrown in for good measure. Women love to pump up the color in some imaging program. And the women who love to do that are either color blind as hell or their monitors are not calibrated. Or both. Something’s wrong because today I saw an image of a pair of beige dress heels, an artificial flower and a white lace thong on the brightest Halloween-orange fabric I’ve seen since last October and she described the background color as yellow!

Women also shoot their feet, makeup, pet birds, cats and dogs … and their kids. Speaking of kids, I've seen my fill of people's dirty kids today too. Some of the photographers never even wash the kids' faces or clean their runny noses before they take pictures they want to sell for stock! Their eyes have gunk in them, there's dried stuff on their little mouths, food in their teeth, sometimes the kid hasn’t brushed his teeth in what looks like a week, there’s both dried and runny snot on their noses and their fingernails are always full of dirt. Sometimes it's really gross to have to look at these images at 100% and see all that.

Almost as bad are some of those food shots that literally make me gag. I never knew food could look so disgusting in a photo. Today I saw the most disgusting oriental chop suey shots that looked like worms in brown slime on a plate. If the lighting had been set properly, it might have not gagged me. But this was so gruesome to look at I had to get up and walk away from my computer and get some fresh air.

And speaking of gagging, someone sent in a photo of a dead, decaying bird on a beach today. Oh, yummy. And the maggot shots? I won’t even go there.

So that was a small slice of the entire 10 plus hours I spent reviewing images today. Wonder what tomorrow will bring?

Anonymous Reviewer

copyright 2006 by Anonymous Reviewer ... this may not be reproduced in any form without permission of the author.

#2 gopenshaw



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Posted 21 June 2006 - 11:43 PM

lol, hilarious!

Plus this article is so full of great ideas! Now, why hadn't I thought of taking pictures of my feet and USB plugs before??? ;-)

#3 focalpoint



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Posted 21 June 2006 - 11:48 PM

Thanks, Rinder. It gives a glimpse into that side of submissions which should give everyone pause. I, for one, will not ever submit a photo of Uncle Jeb trimming his toenails. Or a decaying bird with maggots.

Thanks for posting that...something to take to heart.


#4 aremafoto



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Posted 21 June 2006 - 11:53 PM

Thanks for the reading. It's funny and yet, it's so true.

#5 rlasbury



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Posted 22 June 2006 - 01:01 AM

This person sounds like their on the edge of a breakdown. Hilarious, but it makes me feel guilty for having some of the above mentioned taboos in my gallery. *grin*

Now to go photograph my cars headlights. That'll be new and original.

#6 fncdigital



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Posted 22 June 2006 - 01:47 AM

sounds like the same shit I saw when I was doing it.

Nothing has changed.

#7 kenny123



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Posted 22 June 2006 - 02:53 AM

Well, I guess that covers the top 50 over all the microstock sites , plus Getty and Corbis- nothing left to photograph-better throw our cameras away, Huh?
- thank God I still got weddings Booked!
He He He regards, Ken

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#8 lilcrazyfuzzy



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Posted 22 June 2006 - 03:13 AM

Damn this guy doesn't seem to like his job..

#9 shaz



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Posted 22 June 2006 - 03:35 AM

Guilty of the strawberries, at least, i wasnt eating them though and they have sold once.:P

I always thought reviewers had a tough time.

Glad I read that I was just about to raid my husbands tool box for some original ideas.

Sharon. :)

#10 ajn



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Posted 22 June 2006 - 03:37 AM

Damn this guy doesn't seem to like his job..

I was thinking exactely the same thing...

How about the photographer that had to shoot yet another sexy smiling business woman?... twice! Oh, wait, that's pro work!


#11 gracey



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Posted 22 June 2006 - 03:39 AM

Thanks Laurin, for posting the wakeup call - and thanks too to "Anonymous Reviewer". That was hilarious, but sad in a way.

I'd have to admit to having a few of those in my gallery too.

But I found myself wondering as I read it...just what am I supposed to submit then? This reviewer is bored by every subject - then realized she is not bored by every subject, but bored by every boring shot of a subject.

Makes my job harder, but perhaps will help to make me better too.

#12 scrambled



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Posted 22 June 2006 - 03:58 AM

Great post! :)

Funny ... but very understandable - I guess most people will shoot what is readily accessable to them. And I guess most people live similar lives and so end up taking pics of similar objects.

Ultimately although I'm sure reviewers hate it, the photographers realistically have to trade off the reward (sales, fun, learning etc) against how difficult it is to get a shot - so they'll tend to make sure they have the 'easy' shots covered before moving onto other things.

Sounds like reviewing would be interesting and fun for a few days ... but not sure I'd want to do it 10 hours a day every day lol!! :)

#13 fastbaldman



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Posted 22 June 2006 - 04:51 AM

enjoyed the good reading

#14 Ulrich Willmunder

Ulrich Willmunder


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Posted 22 June 2006 - 05:03 AM

Now I'm too scared to shoot another picture, let alone submit it...

Thanks, good job.

#15 editorial



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Posted 22 June 2006 - 05:23 AM

Saw something like that coming eventually and it's a right kick in the pants alright for those who can identify with a lot of it. Good article!

But let's face it, that reviewer is clearly burnt-out. As much as there's a lesson for all of us in her prose I'd say it's time for her to move on.

That said, our beautiful planet does have a huge amount of variety in it, but the majority of people, for whatever reason, tend not to venture too far from home!

Y'all need to get out more is what's being said here!

#16 hebden



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Posted 22 June 2006 - 05:25 AM

While I can understand the reviewers despair at her tedious task, it is her job, I presume she is getting paid for it,(apologies if not ).Every job has its downsides and it is human nature to moan and some people do it better than others.
I am a nurse and love my work, some of it isn't particularly 'nice'. I chose the profession and will continue to do so unless I feel I have to start moaning, then you can shoot me !!!!
I just get bored of people who moan about nothing, you have one life make the most of it, get a new job, go on holiday, focus on something else other than work.
Be happy !!!!!

#17 dkapp12



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Posted 22 June 2006 - 05:28 AM

OMG - It made me laugh, and then it made me wince once or twice. Just submitted my first headlight picture the other day.... :)

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#18 china



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Posted 22 June 2006 - 05:41 AM

Thanks for posting that Laurin, it was a good read and a great laugh.
Have to agree with Editorial, sounds like she could do with a long break.

Then again.....10 hours huh..........isn't there a name for self-inflicted torture ?

#19 jenden2005



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Posted 22 June 2006 - 06:32 AM

An excellent source of ideas!! Thank you for posting so many sugestions! (Checking que to make sure I have nothing up for review before posting this!!)

Seriously though, I think that will always be a part of the microstock model. In order to get micro pricing, the business model needed an economical source for a lot of images - which meant a lot of beginners. This also means the work of weeding out the submissions; just part of model.

As for the reviewers distress, no doubt its justified. Should be a way for a computer to do that type of work, but they just aren't there yet. Think if they were though; generate random pix, review it - goood=submit - bad=generate new pix & repeat. We could have every possible combination of pixels online!

#20 iahulbak



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Posted 22 June 2006 - 06:37 AM

I'm so happy to see that the reviewers really love us!

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