Self-advocacy and rejected images

Self-advocacy refers to an individual’s ability to effectively communicate, convey, negotiate or assert his or her own interests, desires, needs, and rights. It involves making informed decisions and taking responsibility for those decisions. (VanReusen et al., 1994)

Over the past two years with DT, I've taken almost all of my rejections laying down, not complaining. However, recently I decided to stand up for my belief in the usefulness of my own images.

I shoot mostly editorial type images. It's just my background and preferred way of shooting. I like to show lifestyles, etc. and my images have mostly been used to inform and to educate. That has been my experience, anyway, for the past 40+ years. So when I started getting too many rejections due to "usefulness of this image is low" reasoning, I decided to speak up.

It began with having portraits of my Filipino neighbors being rejected, really nice images too. They showed relationships, emotions, etc - things we all share as people. The trigger for my standing up for my images has to do with DTs categories. I shoot taking my cues from these categories and from doing a search on a category. For example, there are 14,538 images in the db that respond to a search for 'portraits'. Here is just one example (on the left):

So when I see categories People: families, People: portraits, People: expressions, that's what I shoot feeling that I am fulfilling a desired subject matter.

Now I'm not blaming nor finding fault in anyone, especially editors for the rejections. However, I do feel there is a bias toward RF images. It is an innocent one for sure, I believe, and this is just my personal opinion, but I think it is there regardless.

Two of my images here (to the right) are ones I got rejections overturned because I believed in them so strongly. They got 11 and 14 views in the first 24-hours on-line.

To end, I do not recommend being a pain-in-the-ass to the editors or administration about your rejections but if you got a gut feeling about potential interest and usefulness of your images, step up and SELF-ADVOCATE. No one else is going to do that for you, just yourself.

Photo credits: , Eladora, Lostarts.

Your article must be written in English



Thank you, Igor. Yes, I agree, there must be balance and not an attempt to get every rejected image decision reversed.


Thanks for your blog, Art. And - right you are. Surely, the DT inspectors are professionals. But at the same time they are human beings and, consequently, are able to do mistakes, though sometimes. So, when I have a STTRONG feelings that my rejected image is quite OK, I write to admins arguing. In some cases the image is accepted after that. Two of such images became of 3rd level ones. But - and, again, you are right! - it would be a wrong way to complain EACH TIME when photo is refused. One should be absolutely sure that image has a sale potential. There is also another side of the problem. Namely, images that have been accepted but have no sales for a long time. I think it is a good way for all of us (contributors) to disable such images periodically, cleaning both our PFs and the DT database. There should be a correct balance between self-advocacy and SELF-prosecutorCY :-) We all are interested in such a balance.


Gmargittai - Perhaps I don't quite clearly understand your point. An editorial image may be used to 'educate or inform' but not to 'sell'. I was not including any information in my blog about positive emotions nor anything about an art club. I just like photographing editorial images because of the on-going nature of flowing events. So, I think that one has to sometimes point out their usefulness in the overall scheme of publishing. I respect that DT (and most other agencies) are in the business of earning profits and that commercial images do that best. But, there are those of us who delight in journalistic/documentarian kinds of work. Our best work also assists the bottom line.


Jeniicorv8 - yes and if I were to re-write my blog, I'd reword it to include your so eloquently stated thoughts. You said it better than I.


The subject matter is self advocacy. So let me be the devil's advocate just a little bit.
When an editor says the commercial potential of the photo is low, one should understand this exactly as they say it. The COMMERCIAL potential of the photo is low. These photos (even the editorial ones in a way) are bought, (people pay money for them) to use them for their own purpose. The purpose of the photos is to sell merchandise, an idea or a product of some kind. The photos have to generate positive emotions. DT is not an art club. They refuse everything which is not bright and has good saturated colors, things which are important for commercial work.


I agree with you. I have received several rejection of editorial portraits too..


I agree, Lostarts. Like you, I've taken my rejections as tools for improvement but there are a number of images I strongly feel about and thus advocated for for reconsideration and were accepted, two of them are below. I have a lot of respect for our Editors and as humans their decisions are not always perfect but the wonderful thing is they know that! So yes, don't be a pain but if you strongly believe in the usefulness of your image, send them a courteous request for a relook. Respect begets respect. Tworst they can say is no, and if you're lucky they might even tell you specifically why their answer remains no.

PS: I enjoy tremendously browsing through your Philippine series--gives me free "trips" to my home country! Thank you, pal!

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Ok, I'm such a do-do, i don't know how to insert images. Sorry.


it happens to me also, I mean rejections due to usefulness of a photo. It is good to know that self-advocating may help:)


Rosedarc, I refer to all Filipinos I encounter as neighbor. Most of the ones I photograph are in situations where it's too difficult to explain about releases. However, there will be some follow up in the future that may get me releases for some shots I do.


Baldas ... Thanks.


Nice images. Since they're your neighbours, have you thought of asking them for a model release? They might be happy to oblige - they seem happy enough to pose for you.


I agree with the reasoning you have done. In addition I think that this is partly true also for RF images. A few weeks ago I decided to reapply for an image that I like and that was refused. The same has been accepted with ID No 22501836 and in a few days has already been sold twice.
So I think that we should of course follow the suggestions for the rejected images, but, at the same time, if we believe in an image and do not understand the real reasons for rejection, we must always be ready to submit it again.


I agree, Brad. Like you, I get most of my sales from Editorial. But there is a huge world-wide market for them.


My editorial images have earned me about 75% of the amount that each RF image earns me over time, so they definitely bring in some income...but given the nature of stock photography I think it pretty clear that commercial images are likelier to sell better.

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