Learning the Hard Way: A Story of 3 Shutterstock Rejections

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I find photography a very relaxing hobby. It leads me to seek beautiful landscapes, wake up before sunrise, climb hills, and visit locations I wouldn’t bother with otherwise. This hobby ain’t cheap though. To offset the cost of the camera and the lens I signed up as a creator for Shutterstock. So far this made me richer by $0 dollars and some wisdom. Here are 3 rejected photos, and the reasons.

Think you’ll avoid logos and trademarks during your holiday in Croatia? Think again.

This photo of a bicycle on a narrow street on Cres was rejected because it has a visible trademark. Looking at the photo closely, there are at least 3 stickers on the bicycle. Cloning them out could be an option. At least one of the logos is out of reach for my current Photoshop skills. I might revisit this photo later.

Bicycle in a Narrow Street on Cres

Great content - terrible execution

We’re still cruising around Cres. I was catching Pokemon on my phone, looked up, and saw a bunch of young people playing with their dogs in this fountain. I wasn’t sure how long they’re going to stay. I was rushing and I skipped setting up the shot properly. The photo came out underexposed, noisy, and with playful but blurred dogs. In hindsight, I should have walked to the south side of the fountain to have the sun behind my back. There would be more light on the dogs resulting in less noise and less motion blur.

Dogs Chilling in the Fountain

This rejection surprised me

Every vacation comes to an end. We’re back home in our lovely town Domžale. It was raining heavily just a few days before taking this photo of a bridge overgrown with foliage. Plants sucked that water up through their roots into their leaves to make this rich green scenery. I love the aesthetic of this photo. Shutterstock didn’t mind it either. However, they are apparently very strict when it comes to photos of artwork. The graffiti makes this photo unusable for commercial purposes without an artwork property release signed by the author.

Foliage Wrapped Over a Bridge

These 3 rejections altered how I think about commercial photography. Not only do photos need to be visually and technically polished. Rules about model, property, and artwork releases are something we need to be aware of. Shutterstock and other stock content agencies review each uploaded file and lift the burden of managing paperwork from the buyer. Feel free to use my link to browse Shutterstock. If you sign up through the link, I’ll get a small kickback to support my journey in photography.