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I am not new to stock photography. I've been a contributor to about three other sites for a many years. Sites that have quite high standards. My images sell okay. I decided to try Shutterstock. As with any new stock site I have been initially uploading images that are already available through the other sites. It is a way of testing the water to see what reaction I get for images that have been readily accepted elsewhere. The assumption is that they will pass review without issue.  Quite the opposite is happening with my submissions to Shutterstock. Only a small percentage are getting through. Most rejections are not image quality issues but quite odd reasons that seem illogical. If a series of related sequential shots are uploaded they will pick one or two thus destroying the sequence, if an altered image is presented it will 'sometimes' be deemed an illustration then when uploaded as an illustration it will be required to have a reference shot, when obviously non-copyright public area images are sent they require a property release and so on. When a shot which has a distant part of the image beyond focus for obvious creative reasons is deemed out of focus. The list goes on.  I would not raise this matter except that all these images have passed muster with several other sites. I have a background in photography. I use high end gear and lenses.  

My question is to other Shutterstock contributors.  I don't get the impression that Shutterstock overall have insanely high standards so have you had a similar experience? Is Shutterstock just more difficult to deal with? Do you find the reviewers irrational compared to other stock sites? Is it worth continuing with Shutterstock or should I just walk away and stick to my other sites? I'd be interested to hear the thoughts of other contributors.

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Seems nobody is interested in giving an opinion.

Anyway, I think I may have stumbled on the Shutterstock review technique. Have uploaded a number of batches of images recently which were shot at the same time under the same conditions. Half are always rejected. 'Focus' seems to be the main standby for rejection. How can half a range of images all shot under the same conditions with the same camera at the same time, with a high speed and good depth of field be half okay? Of course it's possible, just highly unlikely. 

Maybe it's a way of not accepting too many images from any one contributor. Or perhaps a way of making sure contributors don't get too sure of themselves.

I guess the regular Shutterstock contributors eventually figure out how the game works.

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The only consistency with reviews is the inconsistency. It can be a headache at times. They used to be much more strict. Then the rules got really lax and they were accepting anything and everything (or so it seemed to many) and now they are in the process of getting more strict in their standards, but in a haphazard way IMO. I get similar rejection a lot if i submit two images with beverages, even though the only similarity is that they both are beverages. So it's hit and miss for the most part. If you disagree with the review, you can always resubmit. SS doesn't have issues with that like many other sites apparently do.  And the forums have been slow in general so not as many people are probably reading this section so the responses will be fewer (also my opinion, not necessarily what's going on).

 

Good luck

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Thanks Sheila. Seems my paranoia is unfounded. The randomness is completely random.  I'll carry on and try to work in and around the system.  (Impressive portfolio btw.)

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It's hard to say anything without seeing the images that have been rejected.

About sequental shots: Shutterstock is very strict when it come sto "similar" images, sometimes a bit too strict and will only allow one shot of the same scene. Their rules have been made more strict some months ago and now they are even deleting portfolios that have too many similar images in them in their opinion.

About altered images with reference: What they want to see as reference is the original photo you used for your alteration and they want that that photo is taken by you. All you need to do is upload the unaltered version in the "note to reviewer" section.
 

About porperty releaes: I don't know what a "non-copyright public area" is for you. The problem is, that public areas, unless they are landscape shots, most often have some copyrighted things in them, may it be a graffitti on the wall, a advertise banner, a shop sign, etc....Public areas does not equal non-copyrighted content.

Focus: Shutterstock is picky about selective focus. If you have a main subject, they want all of it to be in focus. If you submit a scene, may it be a landscape or a street scene, they want all of it to be in focus.

I don't think Shutterstock is that difficult to deal with regarding rejections, expect for a few random rejections that are hard to understand from time to time. You just have to figure out what exactly they want an, most important,  accept that this is not the same other agencies want. I see the sentence "But this image was accepted at agency XY without problem" as argumentantion while it should also have been accepted at Shutterstock. That is not how it works. Shutterstock has its own rules, like each agency has. I had a much harder time figuring out ISopckS/Getty's Editorial acceptance rules than the ones on Shutterstock.

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On 4/25/2020 at 2:08 AM, Neil Stanners said:

I am not new to stock photography. I've been a contributor to about three other sites for a many years. Sites that have quite high standards. My images sell okay. I decided to try Shutterstock. As with any new stock site I have been initially uploading images that are already available through the other sites. It is a way of testing the water to see what reaction I get for images that have been readily accepted elsewhere. The assumption is that they will pass review without issue.  Quite the opposite is happening with my submissions to Shutterstock. Only a small percentage are getting through. Most rejections are not image quality issues but quite odd reasons that seem illogical. If a series of related sequential shots are uploaded they will pick one or two thus destroying the sequence, if an altered image is presented it will 'sometimes' be deemed an illustration then when uploaded as an illustration it will be required to have a reference shot, when obviously non-copyright public area images are sent they require a property release and so on. When a shot which has a distant part of the image beyond focus for obvious creative reasons is deemed out of focus. The list goes on.  I would not raise this matter except that all these images have passed muster with several other sites. I have a background in photography. I use high end gear and lenses.  

My question is to other Shutterstock contributors.  I don't get the impression that Shutterstock overall have insanely high standards so have you had a similar experience? Is Shutterstock just more difficult to deal with? Do you find the reviewers irrational compared to other stock sites? Is it worth continuing with Shutterstock or should I just walk away and stick to my other sites? I'd be interested to hear the thoughts of other contributors.

I think SS is worthwhile working with. For many people who are on several sites, it is the site that yields more sales/money. Indeed you need some time to get the feel about how to get photos accepted consistently, as you say you need to understand how the game works. Once you get it, it becomes relatively easy to get most photos accepted. You basically need to understand how a SS reviewer thinks and then critically evaluate your photos before uploading. Similar photos, or photos that the reviewer may think are similar, are better uploaded separately, in different batches.

Had a quick look (very quick) at your photos, mind if I give you a suggestion:

https://www.shutterstock.com/image-photo/legal-document-backgrounds-displays-1711629472

legal-document-backgrounds-displays-600w

For this photo the description you used is not relevant (it's not a legal document). Also the keywords are largely irrelevant and focused on legal stuff. The keyword "user manual" and "full instructions" are instead not present. A better more relevant description could be for instance:

"Big book with user manual, full instructions text on the cover, black characters on white cover, with bookmark. Huge generic white user manual book isolated on a blue background."

Then you should do your best to find at least 30-40 relevant keywords and avoid any irrelevant one. To be successful at the game the photos are important but the metadata is even more important, as metadata is the only way a potential customer can find your photos. An amazing photo with irrelevant keywords will sell very poorly and will also be quickly penalized in search results ranking.

I would say, keep uploading and learning, SS can be very rewarding.

 

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On 4/25/2020 at 2:08 AM, Neil Stanners said:

I am not new to stock photography. I've been a contributor to about three other sites for a many years. Sites that have quite high standards. My images sell okay. I decided to try Shutterstock. As with any new stock site I have been initially uploading images that are already available through the other sites. It is a way of testing the water to see what reaction I get for images that have been readily accepted elsewhere. The assumption is that they will pass review without issue.  Quite the opposite is happening with my submissions to Shutterstock. Only a small percentage are getting through. Most rejections are not image quality issues but quite odd reasons that seem illogical. If a series of related sequential shots are uploaded they will pick one or two thus destroying the sequence, if an altered image is presented it will 'sometimes' be deemed an illustration then when uploaded as an illustration it will be required to have a reference shot, when obviously non-copyright public area images are sent they require a property release and so on. When a shot which has a distant part of the image beyond focus for obvious creative reasons is deemed out of focus. The list goes on.  I would not raise this matter except that all these images have passed muster with several other sites. I have a background in photography. I use high end gear and lenses.  

My question is to other Shutterstock contributors.  I don't get the impression that Shutterstock overall have insanely high standards so have you had a similar experience? Is Shutterstock just more difficult to deal with? Do you find the reviewers irrational compared to other stock sites? Is it worth continuing with Shutterstock or should I just walk away and stick to my other sites? I'd be interested to hear the thoughts of other contributors.

Well, whether SS "are worth it" depends on one's own efforts and expectations. If I understood you correctly, you already have a lot of photos ready and waiting to be uploaded. So the effort is kept within manageable limits.

As far as the rejections are concerned, I agree here:

12 hours ago, Sheila Fitzgerald said:

The only consistency with reviews is the inconsistency.

However, this agreement primarily concerns videos. For photos I have few refusals. 

Speaking of rejections. I was surprised about your tiny PF and about the fact that there were no more rejections. You have uploaded very few photos, but there are many similars among them. I would not have been surprised if SS rejected half of them. Since you have been photographing for MS for many years now, you should be able to create a varied PF with very different images. Do not forget, that similars hurt yourself.

Translated with www.DeepL.com/Translator (free version)

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Thanks for all the feedback. I guess all stock agencies have their odd behaviour and strange rules.

I get that sequences can greatly add to the stock libraries volume and so they reject quite a few but as a person who worked in advertising and marketing and so purchased a lot of stock shots I can tell you there were a heap of times where a shot was almost what I wanted if only  ......   Quite often the next shot in the sequence would have been the one I wanted but it wasn't there.

The strange SS rule about altered images being shunted off into the 'illustration' dept has got me beaten. I use an-camera technique to produce an interesting and (I think) really useable line illustration effect. Because the whole process takes place in the camera there is no 'reference' shot. I've queried this problem with SS and the answer is "no reference shot then bad luck". 

Shots of any outdoor area seems to be a complete lottery with all stock agencies. And what is considered focus is another vague area. Often the short depth of field is done for creative reasons and the point is entirely missed.

So I'll be a bit smarter with what I upload, how I present it and what metadata I use.

 

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6 hours ago, Neil Stanners said:

...The strange SS rule about altered images being shunted off into the 'illustration' dept has got me beaten. I use an-camera technique to produce an interesting and (I think) really useable line illustration effect. Because the whole process takes place in the camera there is no 'reference' shot. I've queried this problem with SS and the answer is "no reference shot then bad luck"....

 

For the times when you use this technique, try taking an extra shot without the in-camera filter and use that as the reference image. Might work!

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Hi Jane

I guess that is an option although it seems a lot of unnecessary work when no other stock site has these requirements. Also it doesn't help me with the hundred or more images I already have with this effect.

Neil

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23 hours ago, Neil Stanners said:

Hi Jane

I guess that is an option although it seems a lot of unnecessary work when no other stock site has these requirements. Also it doesn't help me with the hundred or more images I already have with this effect.

Neil

Can you use the drop down menu that allows you to choose "created without reference image"? I don't think that choice shows up for photos, but I know it does for illustrations during the submission process.

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On 5/1/2020 at 8:16 AM, Neil Stanners said:

Hi Jane

I guess that is an option although it seems a lot of unnecessary work when no other stock site has these requirements. Also it doesn't help me with the hundred or more images I already have with this effect.

Neil

I have a background texture image of a sewer lid that I edited in PS - it's sold many times and the other day someone bought it for $85.00. Out of my 700 and change images, I have about twenty solid sellers - my sitting Monk, Guanajuato street, sewer lid, cat in kitchen, SF GGB and so forth. All of my work sells but only a small percentage sells consistently. I would say take a close look at your coin images and signs...there are so many of those, very hard to compete when you're buried a thousand pages in. If I were you I would go back to those rocky cliffs and get some nice textures.
As for wasting time - it's your time to waste. 

stock-photo-an-icelandic-rock-cliff-background-and-texture-highly-detailed-1546372526.jpg

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Hi Jane

Yep, I tried the 'no reference pic' option. Still got rejected. I believe SS use some sort of AI system so possibly I'm just not getting past the autocheck/reject part of their algorithm.

Neil

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29 minutes ago, OceanicWanderer said:

I have a background texture image of a sewer lid that I edited in PS - it's sold many times and the other day someone bought it for $85.00. Out of my 700 and change images, I have about twenty solid sellers - my sitting Monk, Guanajuato street, sewer lid, cat in kitchen, SF GGB and so forth. All of my work sells but only a small percentage sells consistently. I would say take a close look at your coin images and signs...there are so many of those, very hard to compete when you're buried a thousand pages in. If I were you I would go back to those rocky cliffs and get some nice textures.
As for wasting time - it's your time to waste. 

stock-photo-an-icelandic-rock-cliff-background-and-texture-highly-detailed-1546372526.jpg

 

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Fair point. Though those images you mention have actually sold quite well elsewhere.

Textures are worth pursuing. Strangely some of the effect pics that became 'illustration without a reference' were texture backgrounds. And those street signs were obviously images with effects but they went straight through.

Guess I'll just stick to conventional photography for SS. 

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20 minutes ago, Neil Stanners said:

Fair point. Though those images you mention have actually sold quite well elsewhere.

Textures are worth pursuing. Strangely some of the effect pics that became 'illustration without a reference' were texture backgrounds. And those street signs were obviously images with effects but they went straight through.

Guess I'll just stick to conventional photography for SS. 

If it were me I'd look at editing those South Pacific totem images to be more useful for customers. One of the reasons why customers don't buy an otherwise good image are crooked horizons, because when you straighten the photo you might lose the subject which could be cropped off. This one I put a quick edit on - if I saw this as a post card I'd probably buy it.

edit.jpg

orig.jpg

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On 4/24/2020 at 8:08 PM, Neil Stanners said:

If a series of related sequential shots are uploaded they will pick one or two thus destroying the sequence,

These are probably similar rejections.  SS has been clamping down on that since late last year.

On 4/29/2020 at 8:05 PM, Neil Stanners said:

I use an-camera technique to produce an interesting and (I think) really useable line illustration effect. Because the whole process takes place in the camera there is no 'reference' shot.

Don't use in-camera effects.  Add any effects you want in post.  

On 4/24/2020 at 8:08 PM, Neil Stanners said:

Is it worth continuing with Shutterstock or should I just walk away and stick to my other sites? I'd be interested to hear the thoughts of other contributors.

Shutterstock has been my top performer for years.  Yes it's worth it, but you have to provide Shutterstock with clean, well-lit, well-composed and exposed images that are tack sharp.  And what other agencies accept has no bearing here, just as what SS accepts has no bearing on other agencies.  They all have their own standards.  

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Lot of great feedback. Thanks to all. 

I've now reached the stage where I just find the complete non-sensical randomness of the Shutterstock robot image checker quite amusing. Shots I think are great are rejected while others I have doubts about are accepted. There is a pattern to the randomness though. Anything that has a sharply in-focus foreground will be rejected as 'out of focus'. 'Noise and grain' (which I thought went out with film cameras) is a sort of random fallback even in a series of like shots. Intellectual property seems completely random as does property release criteria. Similarity is used in shots that are only vaguely alike. (While the SS library is riddled with whole pages of pretty much identical images.) The ultimate stupid rejection for me so far was a nice pic of a beautiful completely empty beach. Rejected because I hadn't supplied a 'model release'.

The SS robot checker might be efficient and speed things up but I suspect SS miss out on a lot of great potential content because of it. Anyway, I'll keeping playing the game.

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6 minutes ago, Neil Stanners said:

'Noise and grain' (which I thought went out with film cameras)

In focus foreground, OOF background ? What do you mean those are all rejected? Grain is film, noise is digital. Digital noise is caused by gain or brightening the image. Film grain looks much different, it has a 3d physical appearance if that makes sense while noise is distorted pixels caused by increasing your cameras sensor gain which they often refer to as the ISO. Some digital cameras can handle the increased gain without producing as much digital noise as say from five years ago. Always shoot at the lowest gain you can in order to produce the cleanest possible image. I looked at your port, if it were me I would put some more punch in those photos, straighten your horizons and save your customer some time. The garments looked like they were shot through glass you can see the haze - believe it or not customers pixel peep at stuff like this. 

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No,you will not waste your time,just keep upload and you will see your images on "new images at 1st page" for sale.When i start here three years ogo,my images was layout on the fifteenth page!I was worried about which customer would search fifteen pages!Algorithms change frequently i think new images are always lucky on any stock sites.So keep uploading.Just limit here now five hundred photos a week because corona-covit!

Welcome and good luck

Gulsen

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1 hour ago, OceanicWanderer said:

In focus foreground, OOF background ? What do you mean those are all rejected?

An example would be a long laneway. Most of the image is in focus and sharp but the distant end of the laneway is not. To me that is acceptable and in fact artistically preferable. Also pretty hard to do any other way without a massive D of F. I suspect the SS robot reviewer just does a scan of the image, finds a section that it reads as 'not sharp' and rejects the image as out of focus.

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On 5/9/2020 at 5:42 AM, Neil Stanners said:

I suspect the SS robot reviewer just does a scan of the image, finds a section that it reads as 'not sharp' and rejects the image as out of focus.

There are millions of accepted fotos at SS, which have a clear DOF with blurred background. Even new fotos from today. 

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2 minutes ago, Studio 2 said:

Nevertheless it is an issue. DoF seems to be a problem with my insect photos. It didn't used to be. I do wonder if it's AI. The insect (or flower) can be as sharp as a sharp thing but rejection will be for noise or focus. 

Yeah, I know.
It sometimes concerns noise, sometimes similars and sometimes other things. 
It is ultimately unpredictable and therefore untypical for the use of AI. 
I suspect there is a management requirement, something like:
"We want to go back to a higher quality." 
The training of the reviewers is obviously insufficient to implement the specification in a targeted and meaningful way. 
Instead, nonsensical rejections are made, simply to increase the total number of rejections. 
Which then looks as if there is an increase in quality.
This is of course nonsense, causes an incredible inconsistency and leads to a lot of frustration among the contributors. 

What I find interesting myself is that the stupid refusal with me (almost) only concerns videos.
With photos I almost never have these problems.
I suppose the reason is that my batches always consist of a wild mixture of different pictures from different cameras and it is not enough to look at only a part of it. 

Translated with www.DeepL.com/Translator (free version)

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