Rejection Reasons #14

Composition in photography can be tricky. It is a vital component of what makes a good photo, yet it is difficult to define. That is why it can be frustrating to receive this rejection reason:

Composition. Limited commercial value due to framing, cropping, and/or composition.

We covered limited commercial value in a separate article, yet this rejection addresses a specific, yet broad, reason why submitters sometimes do not get their photos accepted. It deals with one of the major differences between stock and artistic photography: stock is intended to sell something. A photo can beautiful and thought provoking, but it may not be suitable for stock. This is something all Shutterstock photographers should keep in mind.

That said, let’s examine the latter section of this rejection reason statement: —due to framing, cropping, and/or composition.

It has been stated numerous times in the Shutterstock newsletters, but merits the repetition: Think like the buyer. While it might be tempting for you to want to frame and crop the image as you undergo your post-production process, keep in mind that this could potentially be (and often is) better left to the person who chooses and downloads the image. Extra background is often used as copyspace.

For example, graphic designers (a large portion of Shutterstock’s subscriber base) will most likely want to crop and tweak an image to their liking to use as part of a greater whole, while a photo editor for a publishing house may want to use an image, unadjusted in any way, for a book cover.

So, as a general rule, leave cropping/framing to the buyer. You are short-changing yourself by limiting your images’ overall usability and appeal to our subscriber base.

In regards to composition, try following the common “Rule of Thirds” example. Google this phrase and you will come across a wide variety of examples to research.

One quick tip: You should compose images with the subject or subjects of interest away from the middle of the photo. Try composing these areas off-center and see how this might improve your shots.

If you really feel strongly that your image needs such tweaking before your upload, either a) do so sparingly; or b) re-evaluate whether the image is stock-worthy in the first place, and consider reshooting until you are satisfied with the results.