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Author Topic: Please critique my six rejected iStock contributor application photos  (Read 34808 times)

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« on: February 02, 2010, 19:56 »
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Hi,

I am completely new to stock photography, although I have been shooting photos for quite some time now.  About a month ago I decided to get in the stock photography game and applied to be a contributor on iStock.  Recently I got a reply that my application was rejected and all three photos were found unsuitable due to 'composition or subject matter.'   Okay, so today I submit another three photos, and within about an hour I get a reply that these three photos have been rejected as well, also for 'composition or subject matter' reasons. 

At this point I am getting a bit frustrated because I tend to think that my composition skills are quite good.  Perhaps I am submitting the wrong type of photos.

I have resized all of the images below.  The post-processing on the photos I submitted might vary slightly from these versions, but keep in mind that they were all rejected to due composition or subject matter:







The next three rejected photos were these:







Could you please please give me some suggestions or advice as to what changes I need to make?  Thanks in advice for your comments and remarks.

Mike


« Reply #1 on: February 02, 2010, 20:15 »
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I'll take a stab at some of these.

The insect: Looks like on board flash was used. Bad/harsh shadow behind the bug. Hot spots from the flash on the insect itself.

The narrow ally: Blown out sky, no detail. Legible writing on the lamp and archway. Possible copyright problems.

Night lit street scene: Recognizable automobiles. A real no, no in RF stock.

« Last Edit: February 03, 2010, 00:05 by nosaya »

donding

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« Reply #2 on: February 02, 2010, 20:21 »
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Even if you fixed the problems they say, they will more than likey be refused because of the required property release on these buildings and art work. The stock sites are really getting pretty strict with these type of photos.

« Reply #3 on: February 02, 2010, 20:30 »
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I would say lack of variety and stock orientation. Property or model releases are not needed/used por evaluation. Even artifacting etc is not important at this stage.

« Reply #4 on: February 02, 2010, 20:36 »
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Those are nice travel photos, you have a good eye.  I'm not sure what their appeal as stock photos might be.  If a photo really documents a landmark or local cultural feature, you get into all this stuff about releases, which is becoming quite a mess.  If it's just a beautiful shot of a nameless piece of history, I guess you have to wonder how it might be used or who might buy it.

If that insect is something a bit rare, it may not matter so much that he wouldn't wait for you to set up studio lights and reflectors to work out the shadows; but as in initial submission, it's not a very strong image.

You obviously can take pictures, and you'll get 'in' evenutally as you zero in on some more stock-ish subjects. 


« Reply #5 on: February 02, 2010, 20:38 »
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I'll take a stab at some of these.

The insect: Looks like on board flash was used. Bad/harsh behind the bug. Hot spots from the flash on the insect itself.

The narrow ally: Blown out sky, no detail. Legible writing on the lamp and archway. Possible copyright problems.

Night lit street scene: Recognizable automobiles. A real no, no in RF stock.



Thanks for the advice.  I didn't worry too much about lighting in the second set of photos because the original critique was for composition or subject matter.  Therefore I didn't worry about highlights.

Regarding the alley, the version I submitted did not have the hotel name in view.  I PS'd that out, so no copyright problems.  The other writing 'zur traube' is generic German and not a proper name.  

I didn't think about the car in the night scene at all.  That's definitely something I need to remember in the future.  I was worried more on the buildings in view (most of which are U.S. Government buildings and do not require a release).  

Is it preferable to use horizontally-oriented images in stock?  

« Reply #6 on: February 02, 2010, 20:42 »
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Those are nice travel photos, you have a good eye.  I'm not sure what their appeal as stock photos might be.  If a photo really documents a landmark or local cultural feature, you get into all this stuff about releases, which is becoming quite a mess.  If it's just a beautiful shot of a nameless piece of history, I guess you have to wonder how it might be used or who might buy it.

If that insect is something a bit rare, it may not matter so much that he wouldn't wait for you to set up studio lights and reflectors to work out the shadows; but as in initial submission, it's not a very strong image.

You obviously can take pictures, and you'll get 'in' evenutally as you zero in on some more stock-ish subjects. 



Thanks.  I think I definitely have a different 'eye' than most photographers whose work I have seen.  I have Asperger's Syndrome and they say that people with autism process visual information differently than other people.  I'd say that's true. 

I definitely need to work on some more 'stock-ish' subjects.  I have a bunch of close-up and macro photos that might work well for that purpose.

Thanks for the advice.

« Reply #7 on: February 02, 2010, 20:50 »
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I have one tip.  You can spend time looking at the 'best selling' images on the big stock sites, but it gets depressing; tons of hokey model shots, business metaphors and generic vectors.  Those are the big money makers, but we can't all do them, for various reasons.

An alternative tactic is to start regularly skimming forums - not just this one, but contributor forums on the stock sites.  Watch for posts from contributors who seem to know the game and who say they're making some sales; then check out their portfolios, look for ideas for subjects you could do well yourself - that aren't the cliche best-sellers but will make some sales.   As time goes by you may find a niche or two. 



« Reply #8 on: February 02, 2010, 20:53 »
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Even if you fixed the problems they say, they will more than likey be refused because of the required property release on these buildings and art work. The stock sites are really getting pretty strict with these type of photos.

A few questions regarding releases:  The Assyrian sculpture is about 4,000 years old so it is in the public domain. Is there any reason why I would still need a release for that?

Regarding the Carcassonne fortress:  I just checked and there are another 200+ photos from Carcassonne, and I'm sure that few, if any, of the photographers obtained releases.  Do I need a release for buildings that are clearly in the public domain?  

Thanks for your help




donding

  • Think before you speak
« Reply #9 on: February 02, 2010, 21:01 »
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These agencies are getting real picky about all this stuff. Big Stock Photo is not as strict as some of the other Big 6 but here is the list they recently submitted to their contributors...it covers alot of things and keep in mind iStock is alot stricter

http://www.bigstockphoto.com/paca/

donding

  • Think before you speak
« Reply #10 on: February 02, 2010, 21:07 »
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Here is what iStock has posted on their site concerning property releases:


"iStockphoto - Stock Photographer Training Manual
9.1 - Property Release:
The requirement for a property release isn't as clear-cut as for a model release, because there is no specific right of privacy that attaches to property, as it does to people. Having said that, there are at least two reasons for obtaining property releases: (i) on the theory that a person's identity might be connected to the property in question (such as where a person's property is used in a manner that might defame the person as owner); and (ii) on the basis that to use someone's property for commercial gain without their consent may amount to an offense called "conversion". Also, if you go on someone's private property to take a picture of them or their property, it could amount to trespass.
iStock recommends that a Property Release be obtained when the image contains identifiable property wherever possible (this isn't just for houses, it could apply to pets, cars and other personal property. The more recognizable and unique the property (and the more the owner's identity might be connected to or determined from the property) the greater the need for a property release.
The Property Release needs to signed by the legal and beneficial owner(s) of the property or their authorized agent. Many of the same formalities apply as for Model Releases.[/size][/size][/size]

« Reply #11 on: February 02, 2010, 21:31 »
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Here is what iStock has posted on their site concerning property releases:


"iStockphoto - Stock Photographer Training Manual
9.1 - Property Release:
The requirement for a property release isn't as clear-cut as for a model release, because there is no specific right of privacy that attaches to property, as it does to people. Having said that, there are at least two reasons for obtaining property releases: (i) on the theory that a person's identity might be connected to the property in question (such as where a person's property is used in a manner that might defame the person as owner); and (ii) on the basis that to use someone's property for commercial gain without their consent may amount to an offense called "conversion". Also, if you go on someone's private property to take a picture of them or their property, it could amount to trespass.
iStock recommends that a Property Release be obtained when the image contains identifiable property wherever possible (this isn't just for houses, it could apply to pets, cars and other personal property. The more recognizable and unique the property (and the more the owner's identity might be connected to or determined from the property) the greater the need for a property release.
The Property Release needs to signed by the legal and beneficial owner(s) of the property or their authorized agent. Many of the same formalities apply as for Model Releases.[/size][/size][/size]

Thanks,

I read over these rules when I went through the initial code of regulations, and to me this particular provision seemed about as clear as mud.  The reason is that istock policy restricts a lot of subject matter that U.S. law does not.  Now, I don't blame them for being paranoid about releases, especially when every country has it's own copyright laws (the E.U. has some particularly zany copyright laws).  I am an attorney familiar with United States intellectual property laws, so I didn't think that istock would go so far beyond what the law requires as far as releases. 

One thing I could not find on their website was: which legal jurisdiction is iStock in?  I know they are based in Canada, so do they apply the I.P. laws of Canada, or does the law of the situs govern (the location where the photo was taken)?   For example the first of my six photos is a 14th-century Franciscan Monastery in Croatia.  I can't for the life of me think of any reason why any intellectual property right would last 600 years...  Or am I mistaken?

« Reply #12 on: February 02, 2010, 21:38 »
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Thanks.  I think I definitely have a different 'eye' than most photographers whose work I have seen.  I have Asperger's Syndrome and they say that people with autism process visual information differently than other people.  I'd say that's true. 

I'd say these look like a lot of the travel "stock" shots I've seen.  Nicely done, but nothing breaking the mold.

« Reply #13 on: February 02, 2010, 21:45 »
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Even if you fixed the problems they say, they will more than likey be refused because of the required property release on these buildings and art work. The stock sites are really getting pretty strict with these type of photos.

A few questions regarding releases:  The Assyrian sculpture is about 4,000 years old so it is in the public domain. Is there any reason why I would still need a release for that?

Regarding the Carcassonne fortress:  I just checked and there are another 200+ photos from Carcassonne, and I'm sure that few, if any, of the photographers obtained releases.  Do I need a release for buildings that are clearly in the public domain?  

Thanks for your help
The Assyrian sculpture is I think in the British Museum - who do not allow commercial photography (I recently saw reference in the istock forums to a whole bunch  of British museum images being deactivated after the museum contacted istock.) While copyright/intellectual property over these ancient statues is dodgy, the museums etc can control what you do while you are on their premises - and if they don't allow commercial photography then you really need to abide by that, and most stock sites (if they recognise the images) will abide by the museum's wishes. Legally you might be able to argue that as they didn't have a large neon sign by the front door saying that commercial photography is not allowed, they can't imply it into the entry conditions as you can only find out by asking - but  it's going to be expensive to prove one way or another in court, as it's not cut and dried.  So istock generally won't allow statuary, obvious museum  shots etc unless the photographer provides a property release or some information that demonstrates it's in the public domain. (statuary in a public place over 100 years old is usually OK. Stuff obviously in a museum without a property release probably won't be, no matter how old it is).

Legally in most jurisdictions (US, UK, Australia, I don't know about continental Europe, parts of which do have rights to privacy which may apply), photographs of buildings taken from the public road are fair game.  However the owners of many well known buildings (eg the Sydney Opera house, London Eye) have over-active lawyers - and it's just not worth taking them on in an international court case that could cost thousands to prove the point that they are idiots, when at best you might earn a few hundred dollars for the image. Istock has an intellectual property wiki which details some of the objects/places that are problematic. Legally most of them haven't a leg to stand on (I'm told. I'm not a lawyer but I have a tame intellectual property specialist on hand).

As far as the photos are concerned they are looking (as I understand it - it's a while since I applied) for a variety of photos. I used an isolated on white still life, a landscape and a human figure (as far as I can recall). Make sure you show that you understand basic stock requirements -the application stuff doesn't require releases, but you don't want to do anything that clearly won't be acceptable; make sure it's low ISO and noise free, lighting that's istock acceptable - no on camera flash (even ring flashes for macro tend to have too harsh shadows unless you are careful), avoid images with either blocked out harsh shadows or clipped bright highlights.

Good luck!


 

« Reply #14 on: February 02, 2010, 21:50 »
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Thanks.  I think I definitely have a different 'eye' than most photographers whose work I have seen.  I have Asperger's Syndrome and they say that people with autism process visual information differently than other people.  I'd say that's true. 


I'd say these look like a lot of the travel "stock" shots I've seen.  Nicely done, but nothing breaking the mold.


Perhaps my difference is that I notice things that most people overlook, or find interesting angles that probably most people won't see.  In my selection of submission photos I aimed to provide photos with optimum clarity and noise levels that date from 1998-2008.  Unfortunately a lot of my more interesting shots have copyright issues so I can't make money off of them.  

For example I would love to use this shot, but I would definitely need a release:



Below are two photos that I might consider submitting.  I'm 99% sure that both works are pre-1923 and therefore in the public domain (I'll have to check on that).  Comments on the two photos below?






Thanks

« Reply #15 on: February 02, 2010, 21:56 »
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Because they look like museum shots rather than statues in a public place, I'd be wary of submitting them. And for application I'd not submit more than one. The bronze has distracting highlights on out of focus areas - that's a real no no for istock - I'd had more lighting rejections for this than anything else there!. The marble is better exposed, but it's not really commercial stock

ap

« Reply #16 on: February 02, 2010, 21:59 »
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Unfortunately a lot of my more interesting shots have copyright issues so I can't make money off of them.  

For example I would love to use this shot, but I would definitely need a release:





if this is just for the istock submission test, i'd use my most interesting photos, including this one above. for the test, pr will not be required. you can submit more pr friendly stuff after you pass.

« Reply #17 on: February 02, 2010, 22:03 »
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The Assyrian sculpture is I think in the British Museum - who do not allow commercial photography (I recently saw reference in the istock forums to a whole bunch  of British museum images being deactivated after the museum contacted istock.) While copyright/intellectual property over these ancient statues is dodgy, the museums etc can control what you do while you are on their premises - and if they don't allow commercial photography then you really need to abide by that, and most stock sites (if they recognise the images) will abide by the museum's wishes. Legally you might be able to argue that as they didn't have a large neon sign by the front door saying that commercial photography is not allowed, they can't imply it into the entry conditions as you can only find out by asking - but  it's going to be expensive to prove one way or another in court, as it's not cut and dried.  So istock generally won't allow statuary, obvious museum  shots etc unless the photographer provides a property release or some information that demonstrates it's in the public domain. (statuary in a public place over 100 years old is usually OK. Stuff obviously in a museum without a property release probably won't be, no matter how old it is).
 

Thanks.  What I find utterly ridiculous about the policies of places like the British Museum is that a good proportion of the items in the museum are the fruit of conquest.  Essentially, sculptures like the Assyrian bas-relief are stolen works and most likely belong in a museum in Baghdad.   Personally I think that such works belong to humanity as a whole.  I believe the 21st century will see the repatriation of a large number of objects to their places of origin.  The Elgin Marbles are a fine example:  there is a very very good chance that they will be leaving the British Museum within the next five years.

I find all of the legal issues surrounding antiquities to be really interesting.  My undergrad education is in Anthropology and History but I'm also an attorney, so I love to tear into issues like this.  However, I hate how litiiguous our society has become and the fact that I.P. law has arguably grown to be much more pervasive than the Framers of the Constitution envisioned when they established copyright laws 'to promote the useful arts and sciences.'

« Reply #18 on: February 02, 2010, 22:08 »
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Unfortunately a lot of my more interesting shots have copyright issues so I can't make money off of them.  

For example I would love to use this shot, but I would definitely need a release:





if this is just for the istock submission test, i'd use my most interesting photos, including this one above. for the test, pr will not be required. you can submit more pr friendly stuff after you pass.


Thanks, I thought that even the submission test photos had to meet all the release stuff.  I will definitely upload my more captivating photos the next time.

donding

  • Think before you speak
« Reply #19 on: February 02, 2010, 22:10 »
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These agencies alot of times make up the rules as they go.  Were you able to get to the BigStockPhoto site link I posted. They have a very long list of do's and don'ts where stock is concerned. You do have a good eye....but you have to think advertising as far as stock is concerned because those are the kind of buyers that are out  there

« Reply #20 on: February 02, 2010, 22:11 »
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I tend to agree with you . Although cultural imperialism is a tricky issue. Given what happened to the museum pieces that were in Baghdad and some of the the remaining sculptures on the Parthenon, one might argue that the cultural imperialism has preserved things that otherwise might not have survived.  But that doesn't make it right in the first place.

Generally the only way to stay sane with intellectual property and stock is to  avoid obvious infringements, whether legally based or not, because the increase in blood pressure ranting about it isn't worth it. And neither is the risk of having a large legal bill in the even that you are close enough to being wrong to justify legal action being taken.  

ap

« Reply #21 on: February 02, 2010, 22:18 »
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Thanks, I thought that even the submission test photos had to meet all the release stuff.  I will definitely upload my more captivating photos the next time.

you will also need to round this out with either a food shot, an isolation shot or a people shot, but definitely only one travel shot. some people have shown their really gorgeous travel photos but was not able to pass muster with all three.
« Last Edit: February 02, 2010, 22:20 by ap »

« Reply #22 on: February 02, 2010, 22:18 »
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I tend to agree with you . Although cultural imperialism is a tricky issue. Given what happened to the museum pieces that were in Baghdad and some of the the remaining sculptures on the Parthenon, one might argue that the cultural imperialism has preserved things that otherwise might not have survived.  But that doesn't make it right in the first place.

Generally the only way to stay sane with intellectual property and stock is to  avoid obvious infringements, whether legally based or not, because the increase in blood pressure ranting about it isn't worth it. And neither is the risk of having a large legal bill in the even that you are close enough to being wrong to justify legal action being taken.  

I agree that it is not worth the increase in blood pressure.  I'm not too worried about the large legal bill as I am licensed to practice law in the U.S. and wouldn't mind going to court to litigate the matter myself :)  From now on I will be super-conscious of release issues when I shoot.  

Did you know that public opinion in the U.K. now overwhelmingly favors returning the Elgin Marbles to Greece?  I think it's only a matter of time now.    

« Reply #23 on: February 02, 2010, 22:24 »
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These agencies alot of times make up the rules as they go.  Were you able to get to the BigStockPhoto site link I posted. They have a very long list of do's and don'ts where stock is concerned. You do have a good eye....but you have to think advertising as far as stock is concerned because those are the kind of buyers that are out  there

Thanks, I did read through the list.   I was amazed to see that photos of Uluru (Ayer's Rock) are prohibited for 'religious' reasons. 

I will definitely consider the audience for stock images when I submit my next batch. 

« Reply #24 on: February 02, 2010, 22:38 »
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These agencies alot of times make up the rules as they go.  Were you able to get to the BigStockPhoto site link I posted. They have a very long list of do's and don'ts where stock is concerned. You do have a good eye....but you have to think advertising as far as stock is concerned because those are the kind of buyers that are out  there

Thanks, I did read through the list.   I was amazed to see that photos of Uluru (Ayer's Rock) are prohibited for 'religious' reasons.  

I will definitely consider the audience for stock images when I submit my next batch.  

The traditional owners of Uluru don't want the photos used in ways that would offend their traditional beliefs so they put a blanket  ban on commercial use without permission (they own the land and control access - so you aren't photographing it ever from public land) I think this is covered under the Native Title Act  rather than intellectual property. Personal use photography isn't banned. But they don't like you climbing it much. This is about as controversial an issue here as returning the Elgin marbles etc is in the UK!
« Last Edit: February 02, 2010, 22:39 by Susan S. »


 

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