Common Stock Photography Rejection Reasons and How to Avoid Them

Common Stock Photography Rejection Reasons and How to Avoid Them

Getting into stock photography and being able to shoot photos that buyers choose easily are two different things. Getting to the level where you can easily create/shoot such effective photos is not an easy thing. Apart from that, things have become even more complicated these days because the rules are now stricter than in earlier times.

We are going to throw some light on stock photography rejection reasons to aware you of the mistakes that you might make in the future. Mistakes are a part of your learning process but this article will let you avoid some of them beforehand.

Let us have a look at the common reasons now. 

Most common reasons for stock photography rejection reasons


A large number of photographs are rejected due to inconsistency in these three factors. We are going to demystify those inconsistencies here. Let us talk about exposure first. There could be three situations here i.e. overexposure, underexposure, and inappropriate exposure.

When there is more than enough brightness, the photo loses its details. Loss of details happens the same way in case of underexposure as well. In some cases, when the light around the subject is not adequate as per the requirements. 

These defects will never be present in your photos if you keep an eye on some vital points. First, ensure there is proper light. Take a few shots before clicking the final photo. This way you could make the necessary adjustments. If possible, try not to shoot during mid-day sunlight.

In case you want the photo in perfectly natural light, make use of the golden hour. Having a colour-checker chart and grey card with you will also help. Learn to make the best out of an in-camera histogram. 


Your photo might contain noise in several forms. Some photos might have it in the form of uneven tone while in other cases, pixels are visible that happens due to upscaling.

Macroblocks are also considered noise in photographs. Macroblocks are irregular-shaped artefacts as a result of compression. 

There are several ways to avoid almost all the types of noises that we have mentioned before. Based on the situation, make sure you are shooting at the lowest possible ISO settings. Higher ISO leads to more noise in the majority of cases. Prefer uploading your content in the same format as you captured.

Upscaling and other things like that might end up adding more noise to the photo. Think of compressing the content only if its size crosses the 4GB limit. Don’t get carried away with post-production methods of reducing noise. Too much effort there will result in decreased sharpness of the photo. 

Stock photo rejected for noise


The focus should be always on the point where it should be. The point for focus depends on the subject you choose. Suppose you are shooting a photo of a cute puppy from up close.

The focus should be on the eye(s) of the puppy. You will find a suitable spot for any subject by taking a look at similar photos of experts. Obtaining the right vision in your mind prior to shooting the photo is important. 

Having a suitable lens with a fixed focal length is really important. These lenses are able to capture sharp focus as compared to the lenses with dynamic focus. Find the sweet spot of focus for the lens that you are using as it differs for different lenses. Taking a few test shots will give you a better idea about this spot.

Setting aperture to the right levels is really important in this overall process. Smaller apertures are the best when you want to focus on everything inside the frame as in the case of landscapes.

On the other hand, a wide aperture is suitable for close-ups for creating shallow depth. 

Remember the model releases and property releases

Stock photos are meant to be sold to the clients. If everything is not right with the model release, there is no way you could sell this image. The inability to sell these images makes them a thing worth rejecting and they will be rejected for sure.

Given the freedom and preferences of the people in the photograph, you must obtain their consent before using the photograph. If there are kids in the photograph, getting permission from their kids is very important. Beginners should plan the photoshoot such that the people in the photograph are willing to sign a model release.

You may also include them in the frame without a model release if their faces are not visible. In this case, you have to plan the photo such that the faces of the individuals are not required. 

A property release is just as important as a model release. It comes into play when you are shooting photos of private property including recognisable buildings or architecture. The rules regarding it vary based on the country where you are shooting photos. In some countries, you need this release even if you are shooting images of some tourist place.

Be careful when you are capturing a photo of some art piece even if it is present in some public place. Property release matters a lot in that case if you want to avoid the rejection of your work. Obtaining a model release beforehand will help you a lot in keeping the content away from any troubles. 

Do I need to include model or location releases on

No, you don’t. In the past, model and property releases were required if your content had recognisable people, places or logos.

However, under our new Marketplace Agreement the Customer accepts all risk and responsibility for their use of all downloaded content from the library.Read the Marketplace Agreement

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Avoid clicking photos of non-licensable things and objectionable objects/acts

There are certain places and things that are non-licensable for such purposes. So, there is no way of obtaining a model release from their side. Such things include rare buildings, logos, trademarks, etc. This list is not all. The more you know about such items, the better it will be for you in avoiding such troubles. 

What can be objectionable highly depends on culture. As culture varies from place to place, you have to keep in mind what you should avoid based on your target buyers.

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Final words

Whenever some stock photo website rejects your content, they will tell you the reason. Correct your mistakes based on the norms of that website.

The list we have mentioned above is not all. Knowing the most common stock photography rejection reasons is going to help you anyway and that is what this article is meant for.

About the Author

Emma Taylor is an Australian blogger and photographer, who lives in Melbourne with her two cats, where she frequents live theatre and wine bars.