So…. What do you do if you’ve applied for iStockphoto and received an email back saying:
“At this time we regret to inform you that we did not feel the overall composition of your photography or subject matter is at the minimum level of standard for iStockphoto. Please take some time to review training materials, resources and articles provided through istockphoto. The photographs provided in your application should be diverse in subject matter, technical ability and should be your best work. Think conceptual, creative and most important think stock photography. Try to avoid the average eye level push the button perspective of a common subject. Try and impress us, we want to see how you stand out from the crowd.”
First, you congratulate yourself for having enough nerve to actually apply in the first place (I’m SUPER proud of you)!
Next, you comfort yourself in the knowledge that MANY people, even professional photographers, get rejected the first time around (phew, nice to know isn’t it?).
Then, you email me your photos and let me look at them and give you a little helpful critique, which is what one of my sweet readers did. And she is so kind and brave that she gave me permission to critique her photos here to help her and you at the same time (what a sweet gal, hu?!).
update: Sorry, life has become so busy that I’m not able to offer the service of critiquing photos any more. However, there are a good number of photos reviewed on this site in the “stock photography” tab above that ought to provide helpful information.
Let’s take a look at her application photos…
GREAT photos, aren’t they?!
When I first opened her email I wondered why they were rejected, but after I looked more closely, thought about the rejection letter and talked with my husband I found a few things to pass along…
Before I get started, let me say that I LOVE her photos! If I were to see them on her FB page or flickr account I’d think they were awesome! And the one of her husband and grandson is ADORABLE!
BUT, this is for stock and our first rule is to detach emotionally from our photos… that said, let’s look at her photos for what they are: samples of her work to get accepted to istockphoto.com (no emotion attached) and see why they might have been rejected.
The first thing I noticed when looking at the cross and sky photo at 100% were little sensor spots (dust spots) that needed to be cloned out.
The other thing my husband and I both made note of was the fact that the clouds in the sky busy-ed up the photo and the window at the bottom of the image was cut off. More importantly, we asked the question, “What does this image say?” And couldn’t find a clear stock answer. Here’s what we would suggest…
Shoot a photo like this on a clear, blue sky day (no clouds) and focus solely on the cross. You’d get an image that has a stronger stock message… (see comment section below for more about this)
(Btw, that photo was altered in a very quick manner for illustration purposes, not for admission to istock.)
Next, let’s look at the painting photo.
Here are a few things that stood out to us at first glance…
My eyes bounced back and forth between the door glass and paint tray. Occassionally they would wander up to the canvas, but I REALLY wanted to see all of the canvas. (note: you want the viewers eyes to land, and always be drawn back to the most important part of the photo).
Upon inspection at 100% we found that their is no real, clear focal point… it’s slightly dull (hard to see here).
And there’s purple fringing in some areas (seen on the top edge of the paint brush).
The paints at the bottom of the easel show what true artwork is like, but they clutter up the photo. See what a difference it makes to crop in and take away the distractions (and to brighten up the image)…
Again, the question was asked, “What is this photo saying? What’s the stock message?”
What I’d really like to see her do is to take this same easel, lower the canvas to the bottom tray and place it in front of a beautiful landscape (maybe one with lovely flowers)… portraying a message of peace and relaxation, hobbies after retirement, etc…
Here’s a quick shot I took to illustrate the idea. It would have been nice to have my little one with a paintbrush and the beginnings of the landscape painted on the canvas.
Remember that you don’t have to take photos just where you are, you can go places and take things with you to get just the right shot. :)
On to my sweet, fellow photographer’s last photo (hasn’t she been a good sport?)…
This is my favorite, but I’m removing emotion, right? ;) While the composition is GREAT for a personal photo, there’s a problem for stock… the message of this photo is largely about the old truck and the fun that’s being had in it. But for stock, you want the message of your photo to be largely about the enjoyment of a moment together. Simply cropping in to the people and exluding a large portion of the surroundings does that quite well.
See the difference? :)
Now, let’s look at technical aspects of this CUTE photo…
Upon inspection at 100% I see that the focal point is dull, not crisp and clear. It may seem like I’m being picky here, but your focal point needs to be SO, SO, SO crisp and clear for acceptance.
Another thing I’d mention here is that a spot like the one our adorable little model has near his eye needs to be cloned out. It’s fine for personal photos, but advertisers don’t want spots like that on their ads, unless they’re a focal point of the photo, like being treated by Dr. Mom with a kiss or a bandaid. :)
If you’ll look closely at the back seat you’ll notice some pixelation which would be a cause for rejection. (Do you see it? Those pinkish, purplish dots on the black seat, near the top.)
And, the logos/artwork needs to be eliminated… remember to dress your models in art free clothes. :)
Here’s another photo taken by the same sweet photographer that would make a much better submission to istock…
Can you see why this is a better photo for an application to iStock? This image has GREAT emotion, nice looking models, a little logo that could be easily removed, and a strong stock message… enjoyment of life, brothers, friends, guy time, retirement, bonding, vacation, etc… it’s a very versatile photo! I haven’t seen it at 100% to comment on the technical aspects, but the overall “stock-y-ness” of this photos is wonderful!
Well, that does it for today’s post. :) I hope it’s helped you all some in your progress toward becoming an istockphoto.com contributor.
Thank you, my sweet reader, for letting me share your photos, critiques and tips online! I know it’s helped lots of fellow istock hopefuls and I hope it’s helped you, too! Love you bunches! ♥