By hhltdave5, Shutterstock Submitter

David P. Smith is a longtime Shutterstock submitter and co-author of the Beginner’s Guide to Micro Stock Photography and the soon-to-be-released Beginner’s Guide to Food Photography. David recently offered up some useful advice on submitting to Shutterstock, as well as some other helpful insights for perfecting images. You can view his gallery here.

For those new to the world of online stock photography, one of the most common issues people face is not knowing what stock photography specifically entails. In a nutshell, stock photos are those that help sell or promote a product, concept or idea. As a fledgling photographer, it is best to avoid sending in shots of any old thing that crosses your path.

While it does help to take lots and lots of photos to hone your photographic skills, you should always be selective in what you will send in to Shutterstock for approval. I recommend the following tips:

• Browse through just about any magazine. Pay close attention to the photos in the advertisements. These tend to be good stock shots.

• Learn the principles of photography, such as exposure and composition. Read up on “The Rule of Thirds,” because understanding this will help you not only in stock photography, but photography in general.

• Never rush to take a shot. As we often say, “Make the shot, don’t just take the shot.”

• Study the galleries of the top shooters on Shutterstock as well as the Top 50 Images. Doing this will give you a great idea of what makes a good stock shot.

Shutterstock has very high standards for acceptance, so new submitters often do not get accepted on the first try. I suggest that before you submit your first ten images for approval, post the shots you are considering in the Critique Forum. Seasoned submitters will be very happy to give you suggestions on the images.

For those of us who participate in the Critique Forum, we pretty much tell it like it is — so you should be aware that our critiques and suggestions are not personal; we just want you to get accepted, so we can be pretty darn critical. You need to have a thick skin when it comes to dealing with rejected images. It is important to remember that we all get rejections, no matter how long we have been Shutterstock submitters.

[Editor’s note: Click here to learn how to post images in the Critique forum.]

It is also a good idea to read through the many threads in the Critique forum. You can learn a great deal about seeing our critiques for other submitters.

One of our most oft-asked questions in the forums deals with Photoshopped images, and where the backgrounds come from.

Many of the images on Shutterstock are the real thing without any editing or post-processing, while others have had some adjustments in Photoshop or other image-editing software. These are usually pretty basic edits, such as levels, dodging and burning, along with some saturation or match color. There are many Photoshop experts submitting to Shutterstock that can do some amazing things. Their advice can come in handy if you’re thinking about trying your hand at Photoshop (or other image-editing software).

However, many of us also adhere to the photography adage, “Get it right in the camera.” The less you have to do in post-processing, the better.

That said, one thing that many of us do when it comes to replacing skies, for example, is to take hundreds of images of all types of skies and cloud formations. We can then pick from this collection when we want to add one to a different image.

This does not mean that you must use Photoshop to have an image accepted. I think I have perhaps only about three images with inserted backgrounds.

My last bit of advice is this: take a look around and get to know where things are at Shutterstock. Check out the FAQ page, the Submission Guideline pages, etc. You can find all these areas by looking on your main sign-in page. At the bottom of the page you will find a very helpful area under the Tools and Resources section named Legal Forms and Information.

If you have any other questions, visit us in the Shutterstock forums. We are here to help and we look forward to seeing your work.

Good luck!