Technically Speaking-Reasons Photos are Rejected

February 6th, 2012 by

Last week I posted about some of the major reasons that photos are rejected due to subject, composition or cropping issues. This week, hold on to your photoshop hat as we go over the common technical mistakes that cause photos to be refused by inspectors and reviewers.

I’ve heard it again and again from successful traditional stock photographers, “I don’t understand microstock. I’m sending in great stuff and it gets rejected for technical reasons. I’m using the same workflow and processes I apply to images that are accepted by my traditional rights managed agency.” If it is the first time that the long time stock photographer has submitted to microstock, they are usually angry…and sometimes at me!

Some problems obvious at a reviewers first glance:

  • The date stamp was active and time/date shows on frame
  • The photo is out of focus
  • The depth of field is too shallow for the subject
  • An image has been submitted upside down or sideways


Some problems are more subtle. This is why you must ALWAYS check your work at 100% before submitting to catch the following problems:

Image appeared sharp but at 100% is soft

  • Dirt on the sensor or lens created spots on the image that haven’t been removed
  • Fringing (chromatic aberation) in highlights
  • Blown out light due to over exposure
  • Obvious clipping paths

Posterization in shadows often due to underexposure

Poor composites

Artifact/compression flaws due to too much interpolation

For illustrators: Poor gradation in tones (lots of stripes through images)


My father had a very personal way of focusing his camera…he stood in front of his favorite subject…my lovely mother…and then moved forward or backward until she was in focus. This is not recommended and even my Dad had to give it up after a trip to the Arizona desert found his backside in direct contact with a cactus as he stepped backwards¬† in order to bring my mother into focus. (Remember to learn from your rejections and don’t take them personally-they are better than a poke in the eye or somewhere else-like my Dad received!)