Submission Guidelines

  • You must own or control the copyright to all content you submit to Shutterstock. This means that you cannot submit work obtained from other sources (e.g., online image search results or websites), or incorporate such work into your content submissions, unless you have permission to do so.
  • Public domain content cannot be submitted under any circumstances. If you do not have complete rights to the submission, you may not submit it.
  • Content submissions must not contain any copyrighted material, including artwork, other photos, sculptures, architecture, exhibits or audio which are copyrighted. Additionally, content submissions may not contain trademarks, service marks or other indication of origin, including logos, owned by third parties.
  • If submitted content contains copyrighted material and/or trademarks, you must submit releases from the copyright and/or trademark owners. Alternatively, where such content meets our editorial standards, you may submit the content for Editorial Use Only.  
  • For a list of Known Restrictions, please see this list. Please note that this list is not all-inclusive. 
  • Do not embed your own watermark, website name, or copyright notice in your content. We protect your content with our own watermark, which is applied when your content is accepted to our site.
  • We reserve the right to remove any previously accepted content submission from the Shutterstock library, and reserve the right to reinstate any previously accepted content submission which was later removed by a Shutterstock administrator, at any time for any reason.

  • You must be 18 years of age to create a Shutterstock account.
  • You may not sign up for an account with an ID belonging to another individual, share an account with another individual, and/or share content with another Shutterstock contributor without prior consent from Shutterstock. 
  • The “Payto” name in your account must be your full legal name as it appears on your ID; this is the name to which royalty payments will be made.
  • In order to make your Shutterstock account a business account, you must provide us with documentation as required by your country or state that indicates you are a principal owner of the business.  Shutterstock may allow you to hold a business account in its sole discretion.
  • You may not open a second Shutterstock account without permission from Shutterstock.

  • Any content featuring an identifiable person must be accompanied by a model release. If there is no model release for the content, it may be submitted for Editorial Use Only, if the content meets our editorial standards.
  • Any content featuring unique or identifiable property, or which was taken on private property, must be accompanied by a property release. If there is no property release for the content, it may be submitted for Editorial Use Only, if the content meets our editorial standards
  • Model and property release forms are available on our site. Our list of acceptable English and foreign language release forms from other sources can be found here.
  • Releases should not be uploaded as content, but in the content editor before submitting for review.
  • For submissions containing nude content of artistic value, the model must look at least 25 years of age and the submission must be accompanied by a photo ID of the model. The decision to accept or reject content containing nudity will be made according to the sole discretion of Shutterstock. Never submit any explicit material. Submissions must not contain violence, X-rated content, or content that is illegal according to U.S. law.
  • Submissions depicting a minor must be accompanied by a model release that was signed by that minor's parent or legal guardian. If a submission does do not have a model release, the content may be submitted for Editorial Use Only, if the content meets our editorial standards.  

  • Images must be at least 4MP (4 Megapixels/4 Million Pixels). To calculate the number of pixels in a photo - multiply the width by the height. For example,  a photo that is 1700 x 1300 is 2.21 million pixels. Please note that Megapixels (MP) are not the same as Megabytes (MB). 
  • Images should not be upsized. We perform an upsize to sell the “supersized” version where the file size is under 15MP.
  • Images should be correctly exposed and in-focus.
  • Images can be submitted in digital form only. If you would like to submit film/negatives, you must scan them into a digital format before you submit them. Do not send physical negatives or positives to Shutterstock.    
  • Illustrations must be tagged as illustrations.
  • Vectors may not exceed 15MB in size.
Do choose the correct category for your image (the list of categories is below). If your image cannot fit into two appropriate categories, please only choose one. Don't send images with date stamps or copyright notices. 
Do inspect all images at 100% before uploading them to make sure they are free of noise, dust, and scratches.        Don't send snapshots. We do not accept photos with heavy shadows from the on-camera flash. Make sure your images have a clear topic and focus.    
Do vary the subject matter of your initial 10 images.Don't send the same image with slight variations on the angle.   
Do send full-sized images. Don't upsize or downsize images. Don't caption flower images with “Flower” or “Spring Scene”. We only accept images of flowers that are captioned with the scientific or common name of the flower. 
Do keyword your images carefully. This is how people find your work. Make sure all keywords relate directly to the image. Do not use trademarks for keywords in commercial content (however, it is ok in editorial content).  
Do keyword your images in English only. We have a language algorithm that automatically translates the image's description and keywords into every language in which we offer the site itself.Do not copy entire captions and/or keywords of other submissions.

The acceptable resolutions for footage clips are:
SD640x480, 720x480, 720x486, 720x576
HD1280x720, 1920x1080
2K 2048x1080, 2400x1350, 2432x1366
4K3840x2160, 4096x2160, 4096x2304, 4096×1714, 3996×2160, 3656×2664
  • We accept both NTSC and PAL formats. Clips should be no longer than 60 seconds. Acceptable frame rates include 23.97, 24, 25, 29.97, 30, and 60 frames per second.
  • Footage must not contain any audio not produced by the footage producer without a release from the audio creator. Contributors should not add music or sound effects to clips. Footage containing environmental or ambient sounds is acceptable.
  • Footage should be correctly exposed and in-focus. Any camera movement or zooming should be smooth and consistent. Clips should not contain noise or pixelation.
  • We prefer QuickTime (.mov) files. Preferred codecs include H.264, Apple ProRes, and Photo-JPEG.

Category Descriptions
(* are for images only and not available in footage)    

Abstract*- This is the best category for fractals, blurs, and content where the subject matter is abstract in nature.

Animals/Wildlife - This category is for all animals (domestic and wild), and it is preferred that the title contains the scientific name of the animal.

The Arts* - This category is for content featuring art objects, items used to make art, or people performing the act of making art.

Backgrounds/Textures - These are generally abstract backgrounds, textures that one might use as wallpaper, or as a background for text. The best backgrounds have lots of room for text, are simple, clean, and uncluttered. 

Beauty/Fashion* - This includes content with models up close with makeup on, or content with people modeling clothes with a clean white background or on location for a fashion shoot.

Buildings/Landmarks - Any structure or structural detail goes here.

Business/Finance - This category includes content with businessmen and women, and content featuring office environments, financial districts, and money or money-related items such as calculators, etc.

Celebrities* - These are strictly content with famous people. Do not use this category for celebrations or celebratory events (A birthday is not a celebrity). 

Editorial - This content cannot be used for commercial purposes without securing additional rights. See our post here for more information on our editorial guidelines.

Education - This category is for content with anything education-related such as books, classrooms, chalkboards, etc.

Food and Drink - Anything that can be eaten or imbibed. This does not include content featuring utensils, cups, or people who are eating. 

Health Care - Anything with medical subjects would go here. Items used in medical offices, pills/drugs, some nudes if in a medical context, weight loss concepts, and healthy eating concepts are included in this category

Holidays - A holiday is a calendar event here. Calendar events include: New Year's, Chinese New Year, Valentine's Day, Mardi Gras, Easter, Passover, 4th of July, Halloween, Thanksgiving, and Christmas/Chanukah. Food and beverage associated with these holidays would go here too. Vacations are not considered "Holidays".

Industrial - This includes construction, mining, power, electricity, heavy equipment, workmen, blueprints, hardhats, and other items relating to industry. 

Interiors* - Any content that features the interior of houses, buildings, offices, and temples.

Miscellaneous* - This is for anything that cannot fit into any of the other categories. Use this category carefully. You should also list your content in one or two of the other categories.

Nature - This is for all outdoor content, sunsets, clouds, oceans, and flowers, gardening, and other natural topics.

Objects - This category is intended for isolated objects uncluttered by background scenes. Items in context will likely go into one of the other categories.

Parks/Outdoor* - This is a great partner category for Nature content, and can include gardens, sunsets, and content showing people engaged in outdoor activities (hiking, biking, sailing).

People - If it has a person or body part in it, the content should be in this category. Groups of people also go here. *If you are posting content featuring a child, DO NOT EVER USE KEYWORDS NUDE OR NAKED. Nor can you use "teen", "nude", "sexy" or other sexual words as keywords or in the description of such content. 

Religion - Any items related to any religion. 

Science - Any content involving natural or hard science, which includes content with specific insect or animal shots, medical or computer science themes, and some scientific or medical symbols.  

Signs/Symbols - Anything that is a sign or a symbol including flags, insignia, stop signs, arrows, people pointing or gesturing. 

Sports/Recreation - Any sport on land, in the air, on wheels, hunting, fishing, winter sports, hiking, biking, roller-skating, yoga, weight lifting, etc.

Technology - This category includes computers, laptops cell phones, tablets, data devices, and other technological devices.

Transportation - This includes anything that transports: Planes, trains, automobiles, boats, gliders, even roller-skates. Road ways would go here too.

Vectors - These are specially-created illustrations that can be enlarged to infinite sizes without quality loss. If you do not know what this is, you should not use this category.

Vintage* - Any content with a vintage feel, including kitsch, sepia tone scenes, or anything relating to a non-modern era.         

Reasons for Receiving Warnings 
  • If we see repeated issues related to content submissions or poor behavior, you may receive a warning. Repeat warnings may result in account suspension or termination. Some reasons for receiving warnings are:    
  • Consistent repeated resubmissions without addressing the rejection reasons.  
  • Sharing content with another Shutterstock contributor, and/or sharing a Shutterstock account with another person
  • Sharing a PayPal email address with another Shutterstock contributor, and/or opening a Shutterstock account in the name of someone other than yourself
  • Opening a second Shutterstock account without permission from Shutterstock
  • Submitting content which may be excessively inspired by work to which you do not own the copyright
  • Frequent miscategorization of submitted content
  • Copying the entire description and/or keywords of another item of content on Shutterstock
  • Keyword spamming (using the same keywords for unrelated content)
  • Re-adding keywords that were previously removed by an administrator, or modifying a caption that was previously edited by an administrator
  • Inappropriate keywords, such as those defined in the People Category (e.g., the use of "teen", "nude", "sexy", etc.)
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