Reasons for refusals

Accept and Decline concept on the black keyboard, 3D rendering

Many of our community members have found it difficult to accurately comprehend the reasons for refusal when they received the rejection notification and wondered what to do in order to comply with the Dreamstime criteria.

Given our wish to prevent further disappointment and frustration for our photographers and illustrators due to refusals, here is a brief, but hopefully useful set of specific and often encountered reasons backed by images.

These are mostly technical reasons. Along with them, don't forget to keep in mind: - always submit a model release if your image includes people

- assign as editorial images that are newsworthy or have stock value but include unremovable logos (i.e. Times Square in New York)

- avoid submitting images without stock value. Read various sections of the site and browse its database to see what subjects sell, composition hints, lighting, etc. Remember you are supposed to make photos not just take them!

- don't submit images of very common subjects such as flowers or still life, until you made a proper research of the database AND are able to submit better quality than the popular images on the same subject

- be very selective, avoid submitting too many similar images; this will help you sell at a higher price, avoiding download dillution; you can submit more similars later, whenever a subject becomes popular.

Distorted pixels - Lens problems

I shall first point out a frequent problem that is mostly related to the fast development of the digital market. It is the pixel distortion, generated by a wide set of causes, many of them being of technical nature, such as cheap sensor, cheap lens, poor lighting condisions that demand more that the sensor could give, excessive post-processing, also.

Distorted pixels - Lens fringing

Distorted pixels - Slide scan

In order to avoid any misinterpretation of an image as "interpolated", scanning the image at the best optical resolution is the best solution.


One other major reason is the noise, mostly related to high iso, underexposure, long exposures (especially at high iso, restricted) and over-processing.

Low light

Another problem is underexposure and overexposure, respectively. Fairly easy to correct by finding a medium value of exposure, an average value, in case the camera does not have automatic exposure control (in most cases they do).


Poor lighting

While still on the lighting issue, the most common problem when shooting objects and still lifes is the poor light setting.

White Balance

An important and also common error is the incorrect white balance setting - slide photographers, for example know how tragic an indoor shooting using a daylight film or vice-versa may end up.

Out of Focus

When doing macro, a powerful light set is necessary in order to be able to shoot at a high speed, as well as a tripod, since one must prevent any camera or subject movement. Any motion blur could lead to an "OUT OF FOCUS" refusal.

Lack of composition

A major factor in producing a good image, regardless of media, is the composition. It involves or points out, if not entirely create the message. Composition is also closely related to concept.

Over filtered

One of the most important steps in image creation is, of course, the postprocessing. Poor background removal and overfiltering are the most frequent problems that eventually disqualify an image. Proficient knowledge of Photoshop, for example, is not in everyone's reach, and most users tend to make an image look striking on a thumbnail size, but when an editor opens the file at 100% and sees all sorts of distortions, excesses, etc., the image is refused for noise, pixel distortion or overfiltering, although it had, as a raw file, great sales potential.

Poor background removal

I hope this brief explanation will help many emerging photographers get better results and sell more; so, work more, learn more and pay more attention to details.

Photo credits: Alexlmx.

Your article must be written in English

October 23, 2019


I have no idea what to do..

October 21, 2019


Thanks for taking the time to write this boss, much appreciated and taught me some new tips/tricks to sharpen my artistry :)

October 18, 2019


Thanks. Frustrating process having many accepted but not selling. Any more tips to help?

June 02, 2019


Thank you for taking time to help "newbies" to stock photography.  I have a wonderful mentor, but I appreciate everyone who takes time to reinforce what she is teaching me.

May 03, 2019


Thank you =)

May 03, 2019


in the Russian division, this article I read the day before yesterday =)

March 06, 2019


Thank. you! Very helpful, indeed.

December 01, 2018



September 10, 2018


This was a very useful article and much appreciated.

August 11, 2018


Thank you for the help of understanding the decision process.

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