Shutterstock Rejections

Submitting images to Shutterstock is not easy. Out of 77 images submitted, Shutterstock rejected 54 of my photos? AKA, more Shutterstock rejections.

By now I’m thoroughly convinced that Shutterstock hires out review of submitted photos to absolute idiots.

Here are the latest reasons.

Composition: Distracting elements are entering the frame obscuring the main subject or the horizon line is unintentionally crooked/skewed. – maybe.

Focus: The main subject of this image is not in focus. – Total BS on 90% of the images that are rejected for this reason (I specifically chose images that were in focus).

shutterstock rejections
I can’t imagine how close they had to zoom in to see blur.

Title: Title must be descriptive of the subject matter and must be in English. Titles cannot contain special characters, spelling/grammar errors, or repeat words/phrases in excess.

– Actual titles submitted (not sure the reviewers actually even speak English.

  • Radial pattern on white
  • lost Athens ruins
  • Columbia gorge view
  • over Multnomah falls
  • stair well descen

Keywords: Keywords must be descriptive of the subject matter and must be in English. Keywords cannot contain special characters, spelling/grammar errors, or repeat words/phrases in excess.

Intellectual Property: Image potentially infringes on another person’s intellectual property rights (e.g., image contains artwork, writing, sheet music, or objects protected by copyright).

Missing Property Release: A property release is required for this submission but was not provided. – This one was also given as a rejection reason for a photo of a flower.

shutterstock rejections
Because it’s in a greenhouse I guess.

Similar Content: This image is too similar to another image that has already been submitted or published.

Exposure: Image is extremely underexposed or overexposed.

shutterstock rejections
It’s supposed to be.

Visible Trademark: Image contains visible brand names or logos. – This is ridiculous, the image in the photo isn’t a trademark, it’s a warning/instruction sign.

shutterstock rejections

Noise / Artifacts / Film Grain: Image contains excessive noise, film grain, compression artifacts, and/or posterization. – This could only be the reflections off the mirrored walls of a long lighted tunnel.

shutterstock rejections

Overall the rejection reasons are pretty crappy. I understand the ones about copyrighted and trademarked materials but to slap that reason on anything that might have a sign in the background is ridiculous.

Most of these reasons seem to be unfair (and since I’ve made $0 with Shutterstock), so, I’ve decided to put some photos up on Etsy.

You can find more about the initial blunders (reasons for rejection) on the earlier post about attempting to make money from photos in this post on Residual Income from Photos.


I’ve made a shop for some of my photos. Since I’m not sure how much photos go for, I’m going on the cheap side at about $3 each. This is much more than I’d get paid for them if they’re making anything at Shutterstock. Shutterstock only pays you $0.25 per download.

However, Etsy’s not free. It’s $0.20 for four months per item listed. Not bad; my nine uploaded digital prints will cost me $1.80 if I don’t sell any. However, if I sell even one, it pays for all of them for the whole four months.

I didn’t put up my best photos because I was just trying to get something up in the store (which you can find here).

Overall Etsy was easier to get set up and there’s nobody to tell me that I can’t publish my photos for bogus reasons.

Categories: Freelancing, Selling

Tags: , , , , , ,

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