Stock Photo Rejection: Three Tips for Dealing with it

New stock successes come in weekly on the Breakfast Stock Club Facebook page and in my in-box. If you’re still not a member, you can sign up now here.

Here’s a good one, with a great keywording tip:

“I have photos on four stock websites under the name joyfnp.  The sites are Dreamstime, BigStock, CanStock, and Shutterpoint.

“My favorite site so far is CanStock.  I have 22 photos on that site.  I always submit there first because of their keyword suggestion tool.  It's much easier than having to come up with keywords all by myself.  You just type in a phrase that describes your picture, say three words, and the suggestion tool will generate about 30 keywords which you can cut and paste into the keyword text box on other stock sites as well.”
-- Joy C.

Congratulations, Joy!

But among the successes, I also hear a few laments.

“What am I doing wrong?” one Breakfast Stock Clubber writes.

“I’m trying not to get discouraged,” another tells me.

“My big challenge is believing in myself and my pictures,” yet another admits.

When you start to get discouraged, just remember:

Lise Gagne, who now makes six figures at stock, was once working a dead-end job, had a pawn shop camera, and was earning just 20 cents a month from her photos when she started.

And Danny Warren, another photographer you’ll hear from in these BSC newsletters spends his spare time hiking and climbing in the Pacific Northwest and abroad. He totes his camera along, photographs his wife and friends out in the woods, and sells the photos online as stock photography.

To date, Danny’s images have been used in Outside Magazine,,, Footprint and Fodor’s guidebooks, national advertising campaigns, book covers, and many other publications.

He once paid for his entire trip to Canada (airfare for himself and his wife included) from the royalties he earned on several photos which only took him 15 minutes to shoot.

And Shelly Perry, the photographer who first inspired me to sell my images as stock was a social worker who never thought she could make a living doing this, and now she's successful and loves her job.

Shelly also likes to point out that almost everyone gets rejected on their first try.  She did.  So did I -- three times!  Just look at it as a rite of passage.  You get rejected.  You laugh about it with your friends.  And you try again.

So… here are three things you can do if you get rejected on your first try:

1.  Submit something else.  Read the reasons for rejection, fix the issues or choose different photos, and submit again.

2.  Try somewhere else.  There are dozens of stock photo agencies out there.  Do a Google search for “stock photo agency”, or sign up for the Breakfast Stock Club Premium membership below to see where other members are having success in the newsletter and on the Facebook page.

3.  Start fresh.  Maybe you’re spending more time trying to submit your old photos than you would just taking new ones.  Go to stock agencies and look at the photos that sell -- observe the lighting, color, composition -- then pick up your camera and shoot something new.

And don’t forget that we’re in this for the enjoyment of it.  Experiment, learn, improve, and have some FUN!

Recently I had fun just shooting photos of fortune cookies isolated on white.  Sure, they’re just fortune cookies, but I took over 100 photos, experimenting and trying new things.

My first few shots from the session were pretty pathetic:

Not only are these way over- and under-exposed -- and you can actually see the shutter closing on that third one (oops) -- but they’re, well, pretty boring.

So I kept playing and experimenting, and eventually came up with some I was able to submit.  Here are a few:

These photos aren’t perfect, but I’m learning, playing, and having fun.  And I’m confident that if you and I keep at it, we’ll start making money... just as Lise, Danny, Shelly and so many others did.

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[Editor’s Note: Learn more about how you can turn your pictures into cash in our free online newsletter The Right Way to Travel.  Sign up here today and we’ll send you a new report, Selling Photos for Cash: A Quick-Start Guide, completely FREE.]