Ever been caught by the Monthly Assignment Fever? Being left ecstatic because your image was selected, or depressed because it was rejected?
Assignments are a rather difficult exercise, with an approval rate of generally less than 15% - sometimes as low as 11%. For the newbies who are already struggling to keep a decent AR and are not too comfortable with image processing, this can be really intimidating. And yet, assignments are fun and, more importantly, very educational.
First of all, one has to work on a given subject, think about how to approach the concept, how to bring forward ideas. This is an excellent exercise for the brain and the eye, and of course the basis of stock photography. Well, I'm often full of ideas when it comes to assignments, but I have to say, it's much harder to bring those ideas to life!
The selection of the Assignment files is tough because images are brought straight away to Level 5, making them more expensive for buyers to acquire. Quality is a must. Although the editors are more strict when it comes to the Assignments, they actually give us an even more accurate description of the reasons behind the rejection than usual, and with them come more lessons about stock photography.
I've found that it is quite possible to resubmit a photo that was rejected for the Assignments as a Level 1 photo
. If the comment is "Too simple for this assignment", or, as in the example shown in the gardening photo "Do not crop a part of the body and leave plenty of copy space", then the photo stands a chance to be approved as Level 1. If one feels that the photo cannot be fixed for the Assignment but that it stands a chance as a normal submission, then a completely new submission can be attempted - it cannot be automatically redirected for legal reasons. In any case, if the image is approved as Level 1, this is good news for the AR of course, as it offsets the rejection of the Assignment file. If it goes bad, however, this means two rejections.
Another positive effect of the Assignments is that they stimulate our creativity
and some images that don't make it to the Assignment for lack of time for instance, can still be proposed at a later date. It's a matter of continuing to spin he wheel even when the assignment is finished. Thinking about the Assignments actually makes me think of other images I could submit, even outside of the Assignment itself.
You might think that the Assignments are all too hard and only for the seasoned DT members. In fact, some of the winners have relatively small portfolios!
The obvious advantage of the Assignments is that, if you are selected, you can get a lot of exposure
for your image as well as your portfolio. Quite a lot of the pictures selected sell really well, despite their high price (and of course the winners get a nice little prize!). This is of course because their quality is high and this brings the quality of the whole website up (remember, the Assignment files are all exclusive), whilst generating more revenue for DT and the lucky contributors involved. I would also say that the Assignment images generate quite a lot of spontaneous purchases simply because they get so much exposure.
Finally the buzz around the assignment seems to create a collateral dynamic in sales. For instance this cave image was sold with the keyword "spiritual" during the current assignment. Could that be just a happy coincidence?
All in all, despite the difficulty involved and the low acceptance ratio, I would say that it is definitely worth participating, especially for those of us with a small(ish) portfolio!