Similarity - thin line between smart and excessive, or how less can mean more

As we all know, the ever-growing database reached a point where each serious contributor must analyse his/her portfolio and see what sells and what doesn't. We wanted to get Big and we got Big together, offering a vast variety of quality imagery. Let's finetune now and be more selective as to get the best download per image ratio, as well as the best time per download.

There are a lot of benefits from being selective, I'll just name a few:

-It is better to have a level 5 image than 10 level 1 images, because you earn more per download. Several similar images will always compete for downloads.

-Your portfolio looks more appealing due to a more visible variety of images.

-You save buyers time so they don't get bored browsing through many pages of the same subject, and having...let's say 4 images per subject instead of 12. This will also help the buyer make his/her mind faster, which results in quicker sales.

A shooting session very often results in a lot of images that we like and there is the sentimental issue of not knowing which one, or just how many to upload. I myself have that problem sometimes. What we should focus on instead, is how it'll work for us at the end of the day, as far as downloads are concerned. That kind of selectivity reflects a mature, pragmatic self evaluation system and greatly improves the value of an image.

For example I chose images from two different shooting sessions, two different subjects, two different photographers. All six images are excellent shots. While the beer bottles will most likely compete for the same downloads and the total number of downloads will divide by 3, the garden couple images offer enough variety to stand on their own and respond to a wider range of demand.

Photo credits: Antonio Muñoz Palomares, Monkey Business Images.

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Good points if the only objective is to service the sales potential of photographers. If however you want to service the needs of buyers then similarity is a good thing.

I am a contributor but I'm also a designer who often needs stock photography. I can't tell you how many times I've found a great image BUT damn, if only she were looking the other way, or if only the angle was slightly lowered or if only he had his hand up above his head rather than shoulder height. In other words variation on a theme can be very helpful to a buyer.


grat points!


Wow, very well said. Nice article.


Quoting Kasienka:

I am afraid that I will have to shirk a bit my portfolio...;-( Could you let me know how can I donate accepted photos to the free section?

Surely that would not be a clever thing to do! If you have two very similar images and you put one in the free section, which one do you think designers would go for? You would be devalueing your portfolio.



good point:)


Should be a maximum of 4 variations per same site same models and same colors,
I use to do graphics and do not repeat more than 3 times using colors, shapes and idea.


That's a cool short tutorial about similarity. Of course, it's easy to pass similars past reviewers if you just space them apart in different batches. But the main point is that you are becoming your own competitor and you are eating your image level away for the best one of the series.

But you can vary safely on orientation (landscape, portrait) and with models, even if they look very similar, as long as the concept or emotion that is pictured is clearly different.


Agree on the similarity issue. But then again, choice is very subjective. What I think looks good to me may not seem good to someone else and vise versa.


It is a very useful post. I am afraid that I will have to shirk a bit my portfolio...;-( Could you let me know how can I donate accepted photos to the free section?


Another way to reduce this similarity or the images which doesn't have downloads since many years is simple to donate to free section. This way more people will visit for free stuff and in the process they visit our portfolio.


I think it is important to perhaps have an age out on uploaded images. If an image hasn't sold for say X years and there are a lot of images in that category, then age it out and remove it. Lets take waterfalls as an example. My images of waterfalls may not make the top 5% and so an editor will decline them "We already have enough in this category". But the images may make the top 10% or 30% in the category and some of the old images that have not sold for many years could be deleted to let some fresh ones come in. Individuals should be selective and I plan to be (not sure what X will be for me yet, but it will be there) but perhaps this could be a feature of dreamstime. Automatic flag and then an editor review makes the final decision so that photos that may develop historical significance, don't get cut. There could be an appeal mechanism to add extra fairness if need be.


Thanks, Andrei. This is helpful and timely. I recently did a search on scientific equipment before uploading a short series of images on that topic. It was amazing to get page after page of test tubes and similar chemistry related images. I can understand the frustration buyers must experience when trying to find variety in what should be a limited topic area. I also agree with the comment that self-discipline by contributors is a great goal but more wishful thinking than anything. Along with keyword spamming, image similarity is a real and difficult issue to deal with for an expanding image and contributor base. Thanks for opening it for discussion!


@Djmorgan, please, e-mail support if you have comments, questions or such related to your refused images. We don't discuss image refusals on the message boards or in the blogs. Thank you!



Even though we do not have site email here, you can leave a comment on one of the person's images and they will receive it and can even reply back to you through this method.


It is a good article and I thank you for responding to my forum message and closing it... I would send you a site email but it appears that is not possible...

My comment in the forum and your blog have NO relevance whatsoever! the rejections had NO relevance to similarity


Thanks for the information. I have a lot of rejection and did not understand why


If you're counting on the contributors to be selective in what they upload in order to maintain the relevance and integrity of this site...don't hold your breath. I am primarily an illustrator and am embarrassed by the quantity of terrible illustrations on this site. That being said, of course there are also amazing illustrations. I have been on here for three and a half years, and have 632 images online. I am very selective about what I upload and therefore have a relatively small portfolio for being here that long...I also have a download ratio of over 19 per image.
I wish you (the administrators) would work on a plan to streamline the database by releasing images that have had no download in 4 years. I know some people will squawk, but let's face it if it hasn't sold in that amount of should go.


I honestly can't tell apart the first image of the beer bottles from the second one. There's a slight difference in the third one though. Given the big gap in the image #, it seems like they were submitted on separate occasions, hence the reviewers probably didn't see them as being from the same batch.


I almost agree with Stuartkey's comments on big submitters and similar images. But don't agree with different rules for different submitters. Yeah at times the reviewers do mistakes, but after all they are human being like us.

Coming back to the blog, its a valid point. at times we want to reach mile stone so most us upload every kind of image, 10 similar images also, just keep up with upload ratio and bigger portfolio. Now I have been very selective, anyways good valid points.


The irony is that it's some of the largest and alleged more professional contributers who are the biggest culprits of this. There are many portfolios which contain 20-30 or more very similar shots, with no justifiable differences. And yet, they still seem to be accepted. There also seems to be one rule for the big submitters and a different one for the rest of us...


Good points! Thanks for delving into a topic that is intuitive but at the same time difficult to do when you have a successful shoot.

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