Quality control is important which is why every image submitted to RGB is evaluated. So many images are being rejected for very basic reasons that should have been onvious to the person uploading them - the image being out of focus for instance. This is a waste of everyone's time, for the uploader as well as the admin. Learning to be self critical of your images will lead to a reduction in rejected images. In many instances this can be a one step procedure to determining whether or not an image is good enough for stock use.
Using your photo editing software open your image to 100%. Problems not necessarily visible in a thumbnail or smaller view will immediately become obvious. Admins view all images at 100%. Many of the rejected images we view should have already been weeded out at the editing stage by a self critical photographer and not uploaded.
An out of focus image is unsuitable for stock use. An image viewed and edited at 25% might seem crisp but it doesn't mean the full size file is in focus. It only takes a mouse click to check.
Noise can be a serious problem. Excessively noisy files will be rejected. Again, this problem is easily detected when viewing images at 100%. There are several things you can do to reduce noise starting with a low ISO setting for your camera. Careful editing will also help reduce noise.
Exposure. Lighting is paramount and can either make or break an image. Overexposed or underexposed images can often be corrected with basic editing software. It is easier to correct this when processing a RAW image but using levels and/or curves will help correct JPGs too. Sometimes the burn tool can help reduce or restore burnt out areas. Shooting with a neutral density filter can help smooth out difficult lighting conditions. Bright skies can be darkened with a polariser or a graduated filter, often to dramatic effect.
Compression artefacts are a pain and are caused by loss of digital information. If you have the option, shoot the image in RAW and edit the image with RAW software before compression. It will result in a less "lossy" compression. Artefacts come in various forms: noise; blurring; colour distortion; blocking.
Oversharpening can leave ugly, jagged edges. If you sharpen an image please take care.
Software filters. Overfiltering an image during editing can lead to quality degradation if you are not careful.
Purple and green fringeing often occur when a bright edge (e.g sky) and dark edge (eg slate roof or tree branch) meet. Fringeing can be corrected with editing software. Excessive colour fringeing left unedited will see an image rejected.
Overcompression drastically reduces quality. If you shoot in JPG format you might run into difficulty editing images shot at maximum compression to save space on your flash card or hard drive. Overcompressed images tend to be of very poor quality. You cannot edit data that is no longer there.
Legal issues. If your image contains logos, corporate brands, business names, web addresses, aircraft or shipping identification numbers, car registration numbers, telephone numbers, artwork (including grafitti), personal information, printed material (e.g. books, newspapers, magazines covered by copyright) then the image will be rejected. If it has a visible name, number or logo then it's no go. Certain pieces of architecture are also copyrighted such as the Eiffel tower when illuminated at night. No images of the famous or infamous can be accepted for copyright reasons. Groups of people putting on public displays, such as street actors, require a model release for every person.
Poor cropping, either when shooting or editing, will see an image rejected. Composition can be everything.
Please, no tilted and/or poorly framed and exposed holiday snaps or family album snaps. Really! Little Sammy Smith with a cheeky grin and a jammy face, shot in a poorly lit and/or untidy lounge, or against a bacldrop of the Giza plateau might amuse future Smith generations. It won't be used as stock.
All in all, there is always room to improve your technical skills both when shooting and editing. Basic photographic skills are essential and fortunately there is a really good online "how to" course by Jodie Coston which can be found here:
From the camera to the admin queue without properly checking an image in between is never a good idea. If the intention is to make me mutter WTF before hitting the rejection button then your mission will be successful. I'd much rather issue a WHOA! or at least a NOT BAD as I click on accept.
Becoming self critical will put you on the path to producing good images. It's worked for many beginners and amateurs, admins included. It can work for you too.
I'm sure the information on this list will be expanded because I have only covered the basics as a general guideline. We want to helk you improve but you need to help yourselves too.
Thank you for this useful & helpful quicklist.
And the classroom link would prove very useful :)
nice short writeup touching most topics.
A very good summary, Lynne.
Although it's true that the artist learns more from rejections than acceptances, that state of affairs is not exactly a bundle of fun for our hardworking assessors.
Personally I'd be very happy to see you really write "NOT BAD" or "WHOA!" against any of my images that you assess. I'm always trying to do better, and such comments help me evaluate whether I'm not just making the grade (or not) but doing better than that. But I realize that's more work for you...
Apart from the obvious, is there anything else we can all do to make your lives easier?
Beer. They like beer...