Image rejection “ouch”. Why should it hurt!
In life there are passions that sometimes grow into jobs, but seldom remain passions after that. Jobs come with responsibility, risk and liability that is lacking from passions, but generate income as the reward. While a stock image library might have started as a passion, the successful ones that have found a good market soon became business enterprises and a job for the owners and directors. However stock quality alone is not sufficient to create and hold a good market place, quantity of variety is needed. Where best to get this quantity of variety from… existing photographers with archives of images!
A wise professional photographer will produce works for clients giving them a licence to use these works as agreed. If this licence is non-exclusive, or any exclusivity has run out, They are free to generate further income from these works at any time. As they have already been paid via their user licence fees, packaged with producing the works in the first place, they are not reliant on these works earning further income through the likes of stock image libraries.
Rejection should not hurt anyone. In fact if photographic images are produced out of passion, earning a living from it is secondary, so again rejection should not hurt anyone. In fact it should be seen as a guide to better understand what the market desires and where one stands in providing it, for there is no better satisfaction to a passion than having it appreciated and enjoyed by others!
So why are people often upset by rejected work? It is an attitude that is held! It is upsetting for those in it for the income when it is knocked back, or it is an award-winning piece and knocked back. In the first instance people should drop this idea that they can make a living solely from supplying stock image libraries. While some have, most don’t. In theory it is possible for anyone if they can come up with numbers, quality, market demand and little competition from other contenders (of which there are thousands, because the stock image industry is global). Perhaps maintaining a collection of ten thousand quality often sort after images might enable one to give up their day job, but to have ten thousand images accepted by a single library will not happen overnight. For most it is better to treat stock libraries as either a place to exhibit accepted work and look elsewhere to earn a living, or as a place to exhibit work that has already been paid for at the time of production for further exposure and income. There is nothing wrong with the dream, but many react to rejection in a negative way because of the dream.
In the second instance it should already be know that art is very subjective. What one person or adjudicator likes, might not appeal to another. The same goes for stock image library desires. Use rejection and acceptance as a market guideline to focus submission direction upon. Rejection is not always about quality, it can be about demand or lack of it, over-supply, or suspect third-party copyright concerns.
The problem with today’s stock image libraries, is that there are so many amateur photographers with access to good digital equipment and the skill to use it (but with no professional business and marketing experience), flocking to these stock image libraries in the hope of developing new dream careers, that the stock image industry is now like a supermarket. A good professional might produce 8 top images, while at the same time twenty amateurs might produce 40 top images between them. While the professional is four times more productive than the average of these amateurs, there are twenty times more of them with a combined output that is five times more productive than a single professional. Don’t take these figures for real, they are just to highlight the challenges of professional photography these days. It may not bother stock image libraries until they realise they have so many images that buyers can’t find the time to look through them! On the other hand buyers might find a rich selection just looking at a small portion of the total collection.
For many suppliers, image rejection is seen as an unexpected and annoying hurdle generating frustration, when it is actually good feedback. In living the dream it is realised that large volumes are needed and rejection only hampers the effort. However learning from the feedback that rejection provides will improve proficiency, but may also show the reality in the dream.
Written by Gavin Lardner © 2012. Updated 2014. www.galleriestoday.com