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.
Pavalache Stelian
View blog View portfolio
  • StelianPavalache
  • Wabern 3084, Switzerland
Pavalache Stelian Nicolae was born in 1976 in Urziceni, Romania and is currently working as a photographer, programming engineer, web developer & graphic designer in Bern, Switzerland as Founder of, &

Your comment must be written in English.

We value all opinions and we will not censor or delete comments unless they come from fake accounts or contain spam, threats, false facts or vulgarity.


June 17, 2022

Hi there, I usually do street photography, How can one mange to sell a photo ?


January 23, 2022

How could you possibly have a Model Release for all recognizable people in your image when shooting street or travel photography?


January 08, 2022

A few of these "no-nos" are actually usable for artistic expression. 


November 29, 2021

Yes ... yes .... Marcomayer .... you are absolutely right .. !!! Ami the same thing happens to me ... until one agency rejects me, two agencies approve it and vice versa ... I tell you ... Two agencies rejected a photo, the third agency approves it and not for sale ...! !! Crazy .. !!! ... I think there is no unified criterion to judge the photographs .... !!!!


October 14, 2021

I don't understand why  you refuse today one image approved almost 7 year ago, is crazy


September 11, 2021

Very useful  guidelines, thank you


July 21, 2021

Thank you much appreciated and very help full 


June 13, 2021

Thanks for the information, for me as a beginner it has been really useful.


March 25, 2021

Thanks for clarification of all the points. 


March 02, 2021

pls put me through,....


January 24, 2021

Thanks for those helpful tips.


October 05, 2020

Very useful tips to learn and improve photography skills.


October 03, 2020

Useful tips to improve upon my photography skills. Very helpful and explained to precision.


September 23, 2020

Buenas tardes, gracias por aclarar pequeños detalles para el envio de fotografías, cada día continuaré en proceso de aprendizaje 


September 07, 2020

Very useful and well explained.


September 01, 2020

very helpful


August 16, 2020

Very nice.


August 08, 2020

Hello! What I need to sell my photo?


August 04, 2020

Great explanation! Thanks! 


July 22, 2020

Illustrative explanations with examples.