Many of the worlds most experienced and successful stock photographers - ones with high six-figure annual revenues are considering putting some of their best quality images on microstock sites as a test. But they often find it difficult to get the microstock companies to accept them.
These are photographers who have been selling images through Getty, Corbis and many or the other major agencies and portals for more than a decade. Over the years, they have earned millions from licensing their stock images.
One photographer with thousands of images on gettyimages.com related his experience. He submitted the required three image sample to iStock. He had recently done a major business shoot for Blend and Getty and submitted some of the same sets and props. His goal was to demonstrate three different sides of corporate life - a high demand subject matter. These were not snapshots, but employed complicated lighting with high production values.
All were rejected as "too many similars." Undeterred, the photographer sought to understand how he could change what he was doing to meet iStock's expectations.
It's impossible for photographers to actually talk to an iStock editor for clarification. iStock's public relations explained to Selling Stock that they don't have photo editors, just inspectors. "Inspectors are hand-picked exceptional artists from the iStock community. They aren't editing the overall collection as a classic editor might."
It took several emails, but the photographer finally got a response: "We want our photographers to show a real talent for shooting. In order to do that, we need to see they are capable of shooting different situations. Please re-submit three completely different photographs. These have been turned down so you can no longer submit these."
Being persistent, the veteran photographer submitted a landscape, a new office shot and a a photo of active senior joggers.
The office shot, a strobe lit portrait using a Canon Mark II, was of a business executive with hands resting on a desk (standard Fortune executive type portrait). It was turned down because of focus problems. A review of the raw file at 100% showed the subject's nose, head and tie were all cleanly in focus - no pixelization. The model's knuckles on the table were slightly out of focus. Based on the photographer's experience, this image would have been accepted by Getty, but iStock killed it.
The email explanation that came back was "Our photographs are always in focus. If you can't shoot photographs that are in focus we suggest a couple of magazine articles." They sent links to articles that talked about using tripods and cable releases. A quick review of the iStock site shows that selective focus is often used by their photographers.
This photographer has worked with a number of agencies during his career and never found it so difficult to get his images accepted for marketing.Â Colleagues are also baffled by the amount of work it takes to get images into the system.
As a founding member of Blend, he is appreciative of changing photo needs. "I don't know where the future is headed, but I believe microstock will be a big part of it somewhere down the road."