Stock Photo Living

How to get accepted to Shutterstock

November 22, 2010 by Stephanie in rejection, shutterstock, tips with 0 Comments

Getting accepted to Shutterstock

Alright, Shutterstock is one of toughest microstock sites to get accepted to.
You need to get 7 out of 10 pictures approved.

Here are some do’s and dont’s.


  • It might be boring, but read all the guidelines and go visit the forum.
  • Zoom in 100% on all the images before submitting. Make sure there is no noise and dust. If you would find the picture great even without knowing it was 100% in, you are good to go.
  • Make sure your 10 images are of different subjects. Try some landscape, some abstract, some older people, younger children, etc.
  • Send your images in color, unless it really enhances the picture to have it sepia or black and white.
  • Send full resolution pictures. Remember, you should never upsize your pictures.
  • Look at your picture and think what it could help sell. Cause that’s mostly what it is all about. Or what article it could help promote. If nothing comes to mind, the picture is probably not stock-worthy.
  • Make sure you use good keywords, common words. Look at your picture and try to imagine what you would search for if you were looking for such a picture. For instance, people are much more likely to search for “face” than “close-up” when they want a portrait of a face.
  • Choose your category. If you only find one appropriate category, only put it in one. Don’t stretch it.
  • Only use English keywords.
  • Upload your pictures in the forum, then fellow photographers can critique your pictures before you send them in. It’s free, and most of them have a good eye for it after being in the loop for a while.
  • Let a couple of your 10 pictures be isolations. Items on a white background. Think of something original… There are a gazillion pictures of apples on isolated background out there, for instance.
  • Get out of your way, use models (like your parents, siblings or kids) and shoot real stock pictures instead of just browsing through your images. “Your father reading a good book by the fireplace  in his favourite chair.”


  • The most importan’t: Don’t give up! If you get rejected – try again after 30 days.
  • Don’t expect a picture to be accepted just because it has been accepted somewhere else. My best selling picture on BigStockPhoto was rejected at Shutterstock. Remember, there’s real people reviewing these images. Ones you will have a picture get rejected because you forgot to upload the Model Release, when you fix the mistake and upload it, the next person might think the lighting is bad, or that the picture is not sharp.
  • Don’t send images with date stamps, or make sure to remove them in Photoshop.
  • Don’t frame the picture, leave that to the buyer.
  • Don’t send 10 pictures of your pet. Don’t even send 1 picture of your pet.
  • Avoid sunsets and flowers as well. There’s already a gazillion out there.
  • Don’t send similar images with just variations on the angle.

The most important:

Have fun! :)


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