The Twilight Zone of Stock Photography

For the last eighteen months or so, I’ve been submitting images to stock photo sites. About half of them are accepted; some have even sold, and my sales are increasing steadily. Not that I’m going to be rich anytime soon, you understand. I’ve earned enough in a year and a half to pay for one month’s Internet service….

So I’m making a real effort to understand what goes into a good stock photo. Aside from technical excellence (good composition, color, focus, etc.) it needs that special something known as “commercial value.” Whatever that is. Last week I submitted 33 images, and 32 of them were rejected. I KNOW the batch wasn’t THAT bad. Moreover, the one that was accepted was identical to one that was rejected except for different post-processing techniques. I’m totally baffled. It’s like a parallel world where the rules are different and constantly changing based on a paradigm I haven’t mastered.

My friend Dave can sometimes be prevailed upon to offer critique and suggestions, which are always helpful. (Thanks, Dave. Much appreciated.) But sometimes he is baffled, too. And that’s when I feel the urge to scream and beat my head against the wall. I seems at times that the editors just hit the accept/reject buttons at random. Judging from comments I’ve read from other photographers, I am not alone in that opinion. Thank goodness for RedBubble, where I can publish whatever I feel has merit.

I do, however, have another outlet for my frustration. I have a website, where I can publish my work and my feelings about my work. So I’ve started a page which I guess qualifies as a blog , a kind of essay with photos. Come on over and have a look, and see if you can tell which images were accepted and which were rejected. And if you can figure out why, you might send me a Bubblemail of gently-worded guidance.

Journal Comments

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