Tolstoi once said that everyone thinks of changing the world, but no one thinks of changing himself. I try to remind myself this quote daily, especially when confronted with criticism. Everybody wants to go to heaven, no one wants to die.
The most common question received from (new) photographers regards refusals. If you're no longer new and noticed this (forbidden) question on the boards think what support sees on email. Just as the rules apply on the forums, they apply on the blogs too, so I will not discuss here about refusals. When one receives a refusal, he/she might want to really take it as a guidance and try to shoot better their next batch. Don't complain to support, if it got refused it will not sell. Maybe it will do it once, twice, but we want it to sell hundreds of times.
If you're approval ratio is low, let's say under 50%, try the following:
1. Think more about the subject that you will shoot, what makes it special? Don't go out and point the camera to the first thing that you reach. Plan your shooting and maybe travel to the most attractive place in your area.
2. Decided what you intend to shoot? See how other photographers have done it. On Dreamstime, with traditional famous collections or just google it. See the best shots and ask yourself what you will bring new to the buyers? Think well, there are millions of Eiffel tower pictures. If you are taking the same classical shot, let it be perfect as technical, equipment etc. If you don't have that, be original. Print the best examples you found.
3. Try to get the appropriate lens and/or at least the best hour to shoot it. If your camera is a compact one, read more about its specific settings related to the subject that you will shoot. Get back to the manual, browse the forums, ask for other opinions.
4. The shooting day is here: go for the best angle, refer to the prints you got at #2. See what you can bring new. If it's a touristic spot, I hope you are there at dawn, before the crowds show up. Be there before the sun shows up!
Take lots of shots, bracket, change angles... but select only one, the best one. Throw the rest away in a remote folder, then use Photoshop to try to get most of that very picture.
5. Keep the original for backup. Clean out distracting elements using clone. Remove dust, enhance skies, boost levels and saturate color. Be careful on distorted pixels, clean up any noise. Work on separate layers and/or separate channels. It will take way more than the shooting session itself, I know, but you're improving your entire work flow and all your future submissions by doing this.
6. Shrink the image at thumbnail size and think, why would you buy it? Is it really special, something that a designer cannot shoot on his own? If the answer is no, then delete it and start all over. Go back to #1.
If small details are lost and cannot be seen at thumbnail size, remove them. If they are important for the concept, you're on the wrong path. The buyer will see ONLY the thumbnail.
7. If you said yes, take a look once again and see what else can be improved. Put it aside for a couple of hours or a few days. Good photos are like good wine, they should look better after a while. So, check it once again and if it still attracts you, upload it. If it's not don't be afraid to process it once again or to go back to #1.
Leave it in the unfinished area for a few days. Wait until you have more photos listed there...Does it still look better in that crowd? If yes, then you're on the right path. Are you really sure?
Editors review thousands of images per day. They see extremely good images that brings them all together in the office, clapping their hands and nodding heads :) Then they see images that are ...well, not so good. Those are immediately refused.
Many images are average shots (like the ones in my portfolio). Is your image better than the average? Will you get an WOW from the editor? He/she is your first client. Make him/her say it and you got yourself a stock photograph that sells!
PS: if you've done all these already, then the next step would be to read Ellen's latest article.