Thursday, July 17, 2008


Well, there is no worse feeling that being rejected, for anything. But I am slightly annoyed at a rejection I received from a web site called iStockphoto, which is a collection of stock, royalty-free photos, videos, and images. Mind you, that doesn’t mean that the photos are free, you do have to pay a fee for using them, which varies based on the size of the photo.

I looked at some of the photographs there and knowing that I have quite a few that are as good as what they have, I thought I’d give it a try in signing up to be a member who sells their work. So I dutifully went through the sign up process, thinking it would be relatively simple. I couldn’t have been more wrong.

The first step, after they get personal information from you, including things like a copy of your driver’s license or passport, you are taken through a lengthy tutorial and then a test afterwards. I must have missed a few answers because they said I did not pass. But, they proceed to give you all the answers to all the questions, making it very easy to make sure you pass the next time. During this process, they also show you a massive list of what NOT to send them: pictures of flowers, clouds, pets, etc. etc., because they already have something like a gazillion of them. I looked up the word sunflower and saw more sunflower pictures that I could have imagined. I was starting to have doubts about this.

After you pass, you’re asked to submit three photos, and that it may take up to two weeks to respond to your application.

It’s never a good sign when you get a response – a rejection - back in a few hours, which I did. It makes me truly wonder if anyone really looked at these pictures, or, if there is just some automated program that scans each data file and evaluates the picture based on some raw image data? Anyway, after reading their rejection, and having them tell me to try again in three days and remember that I really should be sending them my “best work”, and “try to impress us,” I became mildly annoyed. Wouldn’t it be easier for them to blow me off by asking me for my photos first, rather than asking for all my personal information first? Are they afraid they will get flooded with "average" applications if people don’t have to submit a copy of a passport or driver’s license? It seems to me that there has to be a way for them to review a person’s work quickly, if they asked for ONE photo rather than three BEFORE the whole process starts. But, it isn’t until after they snag all the personal details from you do they put you through this lengthy process to screen you in – or shall I say, screen you out?

What I find amusing is that for one of my other blogs – you won’t see it listed here on my blog list – I’ve received a lot of attention for my photography and received many offers to buy them. It seems to me that it’s easier for me to cut out iStockphoto, who could be just a “middleman” at this point, and sell my photos direct. But, this rejection does give one time to think about whether iStockphoto is the best thing for any serious photographer these days. Think about it. If one, for example, can ask for something like a picture of a beach and get thousands of photos and images returned, is this site already so bloated with photos that many will get lost? Is it easier for a photographer to set up their own site and sell their photos direct? And, with many photos already made available for free, many times just by asking, why use a service where one has to pay?

But, I will try again with iStockphoto. It’s not because I like the abuse, but it can help me to understand more what’s expected in the harsh reality of commercial photography. It may not be something for which I am ready.

PS - my little "rejected" image took me less than a minute to make, and cost me nothing! Yeah, I know, it looks like it.

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samfan said...

I totally agree, that is why I set up one of my blogs, the photography one. Isktockphoto was just such a pain to sign up and then you don't even get paid until you have sold a ton of pictures!!! I would either stick to the blog or try smugmug, it copyrights your photos for you and it is a little expensive, but a lot of people I know use it.

The Frequent Critic said...

Thanks samfan, I'll check out smugmug!