To upload or not to upload, that is the question

I am an amateur photographer, exclusive on Dreamstime, this is my second year. I have about 250 photos uploaded on the site. I had my share of rejections and acceptances. By now I kind of know upfront which images will be accepted easily and which have a lower probability of getting accepted. Currently my approval ratio is 43%.

It is easy to play it safe and upload only the images that I know will go through. But those are the images I personally like the least. Unfortunately most of my “creative type” images are promptly refused with rare exceptions. I understand that this is a business and DT has its own commercial agenda.

The question is: Should I stop uploading images that I know have a smaller chance of getting accepted, running the risk of being “Not quite what we are looking for”?

The downside of having a lower acceptance ratio is the lower number of images that one can upload per day. I never ran into this problem. With the 43% acceptance ratio one can upload 10 images per day. I wish I’d have so many images to upload. I don’t want to waste precious editor time with bad photos. I also hate to receive rejections. On the other hand if I try to upload more I may have a better chance of increasing the number of images online and also the sales. I have an image that was rejected first, but accepted the second time after a bit of selective sharpening in Photoshop, it has been downloaded 4 times already. I rarely resubmit a rejected image or go argue with the admins. It is not worth it. But I cannot stop myself of trying to upload an image that I like, just because I know it has a lower chance of being accepted. What if I am wrong? What if this will become the killer photo with hundreds of downloads? This could happen (theoretically) because the image is just different.

I refuse to look at the acceptance ratio as a grade I get from DT on my photographic skills. Many people here are proud of having a 90% acceptance ratio. I am not saying it is easy to achieve, but is it a good goal? Is it a good goal to try to achieve a high acceptance ratio by excessive self-censoring and by forcing yourself to stay on the beaten track?

Thanks for reading


Photo credits: Gavril Margittai.

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October 21, 2011


My acceptance rate is similar. I think I tend to push the envelope, especially in the "wrong time of day" category. But then again I wouldn't have so many photos in my portfolio if I did try. Its more surprising what sells sometimes then what gets accepted.

Great photo of the sheep by the way - beautiful lighting.

September 17, 2009


That is absolutely wrong situation!!!!! I have approval ratio 65% and still - 10 images per day ! I can understand it. If they can to make pending of images every day, but... 105 or 94 h. waiting!!!!! Sorry... I real don't want growing my portfolio so slow.
Ahum... can you produce 10 images per day? I can't. My maximum is 100 per month, that means 3-4 per day. That might be different for people working with assistants and in studio. The waiting queue is long, yes, but when you upload regularly, it doesn't matter. Relax, you have great images! ;-)

September 17, 2009


That is absolutely wrong situation!!!!! I have approval ratio 65% and still - 10 images per day ! I can understand it. If they can to make pending of images every day, but... 105 or 94 h. waiting!!!!! Sorry... I real don't want growing my portfolio so slow. I only starting, I have not thousand and thousand, but i would like work with Dreams... But that situation made it so difficult. I am so sad.

August 29, 2009


Hi everyone, to be honest with you my approval ratio is 25%... I can upload 3 images a day. This is so dissapointing. I really want to rise it.

August 27, 2009


Microstock is not the end all in photography. I had an image rejected yesterday, and today, I sold a 36"x24" copy of it for a $100. However, my gut told me the image would get rejected as stock, but I uploaded it anyway. On the upside, you can develop a feel for what works as microstock and can mix in some creative flair that is unique to each of us. If you are familiar with the game of baseball, you know the greatest home run hitters have the largest number of strike outs against them.

August 27, 2009


Look too at the editors picks and you will see quite a few of them are not standard isolated on white stock but are simply beautiful shots - period. In fact that might be what you should try and aim for - instead of worrying (too much anyway) about your rejections, see if you can upload images that get chosen as the editor's choice ... best of luck to you.

August 26, 2009


Gabi, thats a really good question and im sure alot of people think of it when they start doing stock. Im fairly new to the game and it was obviousl quite early on to me that if i wanted to make money, i need to shoot a group of happy business people having a meeting. But the question is are you in it to make money, in or is photography a hobby and youre submitting your photographs because they are good enough. For me its a hobby, and i like doing landscapes and architecture and im not going to do isolated tomatoes, as thats not what i enjoy. No offence to anyone doing isolated tomatoes, i was just making a point. I would stay, stick to photographing what you really enjoy, and submit those images that you think would sell.

August 26, 2009


Dear Gavril I struggle for the past week with the same sort of problem. I have decided to make a study of micro stock. After reading a lot of articles and blogs I have decided, although I love landscapes and water scapes, it would be the best to load only stuff that sell because the whole operation if too time consuming to load images that does not sell. I hope this little note would be helpful.

Kind regards
Mossel (South Africa)

August 26, 2009


Thank you Eireanna for your kind and encouraging words. I do this as a hobby but I would not mind some more substantial downloads. I am trying to learn the necessary skills. BTW I like your portfolio.

August 25, 2009


Hi Gavril,
before I answer your question please take a few seconds and click on my portfolio.
Have you seen anything more boring in your life?
Nope, I didn't think so.
In spite of that, my acceptance rate, here on DT, and all other sites I upload to, is very high.
Do you think reviewers like my images better than they like yours?
Of course they don't! They're photographers, artists, there's no way they like my fabulously isolated Tomato over white.
But they're obeying the rules of stock photography and sometimes beautiful images like yours have to suffer.
It really saddens me when talented photographers start refraining themselves from uploading in fear of rejections.
Don't do it. You're not uploading massive numbers anyway, you're not suffocating the reviewers and you're an exclusive photographer. I'm sure inspectors are happy to help. Don't let the acceptance rate scare you off. It's only a number.
Instead try to find a common ground between stock photography and creative, artistic photography. Try to make it easier for a designer to use your image. There is a reason they're downloading that biker toy. Clear message, easy to use.
Good luck and congratulations on your port! Beautiful work!

August 25, 2009


I have the same situation: upload more and receive more rejections or be more selective. Eternal problem: To be or not to be?

August 24, 2009


The best advice I can think of for you is not to be discouraged. I am an admin and yet I still receive rejections. Not even the best photographer in the world would have a 100% approval ratio, simply because this is microstock and sometimes the subject of the image is the one that betrays you and brings the rejection.
We like creativity but sometimes it gets too artistic and too not stock oriented.
The only way to evolve as a stock photographer (and not only) is to continue to shoot images and too upload your best.
Remember that editors are photographers too, they have the artistic eye and the sentimental soul, we are not robots that click refuse and accept.
Happy shooting and good luck.

August 24, 2009


I don't think anyone should view rejections as a grade on their skills or the value of the photos - it is only a grade on how well the editors feel they will sell at DT. I think a goal of increasing your acceptance ratio is a good one (it helps your search placement), but I chose to achieve it by producing more of that which gets approved (and hopefully sells), but without giving up on those shots that are more creative... In other words - do more of the safe stuff, rather than just giving up on the 'creative type' of image.

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