Before submitting large batches of photos, we highly recommend reading through the following examples of some of the most common mistakes and reasons for removal.
By following these simple tips, not only should this help you steer clear of any submission complications, but also increase your chances of commercial success.
Photodune does not currently have an editorial collection, so do not submit this type of image. Photos that contain people that could potentially recognize themselves in the context of the image (even if the face is not visible) require a signed model release form for each model.
Unless a model release is supplied for each person in this picture, this would get removed for being editorial-use only.
A photo of the same subject may or not have commercial utility depending on how it’s captured. When shooting, always keep your target audience in mind, both who may want to use your images and how. And of course, make sure your photos have a proper composition, lighting, and exposure.
While the animal itself may make for a good subject to photograph, as a random animal snapshot with a poor composition here, this photo has very little commercial utility overall.
With better composition and lighting, this has much more commercial utility. For example, this could be easily used to advertise dog food, a veterinarian clinic, a pet store, etc.
Here’s a typical snapshot of grass, with very little thought, put into it, almost as if someone randomly took a picture pointed towards the ground. Not only is it uninteresting and poorly executed, but there are very few chances of it ever being used.
Here’s the same kind of subject but shot from a different angle, with short depth of field, allowance for copy space, stronger composition, and better lighting. This demonstrates the good commercial utility and would be acceptable.
Noise / Grain / Pixel Discoloration
Cameras have evolved and improved considerably over the years, but certain circumstances can still introduce undesirable noise in the image. As a general rule, the ISO setting should be set towards the lowest setting (some DSLRs will perform better than others at higher ISO settings). That, combined with proper lighting and exposure, will always be your safest bet to avoid issues with noise. Keep in mind that if your image was underexposed to start with, once you correct the exposure, you are more likely to see noise and artefacts appear.
As a rule of thumb, always check your image at 100% resolution for any noise and technical issues before submitting.
This would be unacceptable due to excessive noise. It’s not only very visible, but there’s a lot of color noise that detracts from the image.
Tools like Lightroom are amazing at reducing noise while keeping detail and colors intact. But use too much of it and colors start to bleed and the image becomes too soft, almost looking more like a painting than a photograph here. We'd rather see a nice image with slight grain, than an image ruined by too much noise reduction.
This would be acceptable. In some situations, we may choose to be a bit more lenient (e.g. for really stunning images) or more strict (e.g. for very common subject matter or images that were taken in a studio where noise shouldn’t be an issue).
Chromatic aberration (aka purple fringing)
This is usually the result of a combination of high contrast lighting with a wide aperture like f2.8 or greater (even with professional lenses), and is most common with wide angle lenses. There are different techniques to fix this, such as using layers in color mode in Photoshop, or playing with the Chromatic Aberration sliders in your photo editing application if available.
Here’s a 100% view from an image containing chromatic aberration (notice the unusual purple and green edges). This photo would not be acceptable for this reason (not to mention there’s also some blown-out highlights).
Upsampling is when you increase the size of an image from its original size. All images should be submitted at their native resolution or smaller (5MP minimum). Upsampling will usually result in softer images, jagged lines, pixelation, loss of detail, and other poor quality issues.
This photo might look okay at this size, however below you’ll see it has actually been upsampled and is not acceptable at full resolution.
Here’s a 100% view of part of the above image, which we can see was upsampled. Some jagged edges are visible on the diagonal lines and overall the image greatly suffers from loss of detail and quality. Upsampled images or images containing elements that were upsampled are not acceptable.
Editing & Composites
Though we do accept composites and manipulations, the depth of field and lighting of the different elements should fit seamlessly together. For example, if a subject with a short depth of field is placed in front of a background that has sharp focus, or the light source of the different elements varies a lot, it will just look like a cut-and-paste collage instead of a single cohesive image. We will be extremely selective with photo composites and manipulations. Whenever possible, try to shoot the subject in its real environment.
Here the isolation is a bit rough/imprecise, and overall it’s very obvious the model was pasted in front of an artificially blurred background.
Here’s a similar image but in this case the model was actually shot inside a building under construction, using short-depth of the field and natural lighting. The result is much more authentic.
Do not submit photos with composited/overlaid text (text that wasn’t present in the source image as part of the original subject, and was simply added during post-production). Content such as this should be submitted as an editable graphics template or mock-up on GraphicRiver.
Photos where text or letters are actually part of the photographed subject and original image (and not artificially added) may be acceptable.
Sometimes a photo may be too blurry due to camera shake or the focus having simply locked on the wrong part of the image. In these cases, the images are not acceptable.
In this case, the face of the model is out of focus. The camera locked the focus on the arm instead of the face. This type of focus would not be acceptable. It’s important that before you submit your photos that you check them at 100% view. If the photo is breathtaking but the focus is just slightly soft and that’s the only issue, you might be able to save it by downsizing (keeping in mind our minimum required resolution), but otherwise the photo should not be submitted.
Here the focus is sharp and acceptable.
You can often enhance and bring out the best in your photos with proper adjustments and editing, but it’s important not to overdo it.
Here is a 100% view from a photo that was over-sharpened. We can see this has introduced jagged lines and also increased the noise, and is not acceptable.
There’s an endless possibility of filters out there, and exploring them can be a lot of fun. That said, it often limits how the photo can be used and generally should not be submitted. It’s easy for customers to add effects if they want to, but removing them is usually impossible.
Lighting should always flatter the subject, not too harsh and not too soft. When shooting in natural light it’s very important to choose your timing. Dawn and dusk can provide warm, soft lighting that can be great not only for portraits but for landscapes. The worst time to go out with your camera is on a bright sunny day right around Noon (between 10h00 and 14h00). That’s when the sun is at it’s highest and creates the harshest shadows that are rarely flattering to anyone or anything.
Here’s a typical kid snapshot where the lighting is too harsh. This could be addressed by shooting earlier or later in the day, using reflectors and/or artificial lighting to help fill in the shadows.
Here natural light was also used (the light coming through the window and reflecting on the book) but in a more balanced and flattering manner, and generally makes good use of the overall environment to naturally enhance the image.
It’s usually possible to adjust a photo’s exposure in post-processing, but it’s always better to try to get it right in camera. If you need to make adjustments later on, make sure to have a look at the image at 100% to make sure noise or other artifacts weren’t introduced in the process.
When making adjustments it’s very important to start by calibrating your computer monitor. If you can’t achieve proper calibration on your monitor, you might need to consider replacing it with a better one. Unless your monitor is calibrated, chances are you are not seeing what our reviewers are seeing. Once that’s done, you should be able to more clearly and easily see if your images are underexposed, overexposed, or properly exposed.
This photo is underexposed. Even the brightest highlights are grey and the image is overall too dark.
This photo is overexposed. Most of the highlights are blown-out and a lot of detail is being lost, and the skin has a yellowish cast.
This photo is properly exposed and the detail is preserved, and the skin tone more natural.
Trademark use and real world products
No photos should contain logos, trademarks, or certain objects with IP protected designs as the main subject, such as iPhones (unless they are edited to look more generic), iPads, recent cars, recent motorcycles, etc.
In this photo, there’s a Yamaha logo visible on the gas tank. Even if the focus is on the handlebars and the logo is a bit soft, all logos and IP need to be completely and properly removed from the images before they are submitted.
Photos with blurred or poorly removed logos should not be submitted.
Here the logo has been removed properly with no visible evidence or undesirable artifacts remaining, this is acceptable.
Sensor Spots / Dust / Dirt
Sensor spots are often visible on bright areas like skies. They are usually the result of dust on the camera sensor, lens, or both. Dirt can also be present on your subject (a greasy fingerprint or hair on the side of a dish of food isn’t very attractive). The effort you put into properly preparing your subject and executing your photo will be more than saved when it comes time to finalize and submit your images. As always, make sure to view your images at 100% to make sure everything is clean.
When viewed at 100%, the sensor spots are clearly visible and should be properly removed.
Travel Snapshot vs. Travel Photography
Most of us love taking pictures while traveling - it’s a great way to remember where we’ve been and what we’ve done, and to share with friends and family. But some of these pictures are better to remain just that - souvenirs.
Here’s a snapshot of a small motel in Central America. Poor lighting (direct flash), cluttered composition, and overall just not great quality execution or subject matter cause this to be unacceptable. Still, a fun picture to share with friends to show them what the 1 star motel looked like on your last vacation, but very little commercial utility as a stock photograph.
Here’s a proper example of travel photography. With these kinds of photos the tags and description are also very important to get right, so customers know where it was taken and are able to find the right image for their specific needs. Because this type of photography is more common, we will be extremely selective and only the very best should be submitted.
Too Similar / Repeated / Spamming
We encourage you to take many pictures when shooting to make sure you get the perfect shots where the lighting, subject, expressions all come together at the right moment. However please do not simply upload the complete photoshoot and expect us to choose the best ones for you. Customers like to see related images that work well together and variants of a concept, but not dozens of photos taken only seconds apart or with no meaningful difference. Please go through your photoshoots and only upload only the most distinctive and very best shots.
There are lots of unique and important moments that can happen in sports, but don’t simply submit your photos from the entire game. Submitting batches of overly similar images will be flagged as spamming and may impact your account status.
Can you spot the difference? These shots were likely taken seconds apart, and uploading more than one of these would not be acceptable and considered spamming submissions.
These two shots are very similar, but each has captured a unique moment. This would be acceptable, however too many more shots of this couple in a similar pose, setting, and composition would not be accepted. Make sure to use your best judgement and avoid potential submission spamming.
When shooting photos or isolated objects, please avoid framing or cropping out only a tiny portion of the object. Like in this example, the butterfly could easily be integrated into different designs, but because the tip of the wings is missing, it greatly reduces its usability. It’s unlikely that customers will be able to recreate the missing wing tips, and they will simply choose another image (like the one on the right where the entire subject is intact). Images should not contain an excessive amount of negative space either, the subject should generally fill the frame.
Thank you again for your interest in Photodune and we look forward to seeing your work!