Isolated in Stock Language

posted on 27th of july, 2011

I'm not a big fan of photographing isolated objects, but from my experience as a buyer for three years, I feel pretty qualified for writing on this subject. So here it is:

"Isolated" in Microstock Language means plain, shadowless, easy to remove background. So, when you're using this word in your title, description or keywords, you must ensure that you have submitted a well-lit and good contrast subject on a plain, solid color background.

"Isolated" means that the buyer can delete or expand the background in less than 2 minutes.

And let me remind you about the excessive blank space issue: White space that should not be white

"Isolated" does NOT mean small shadows, or small reflections under the subject, nor subjects on real life backgrounds (clouds, water, grass and so on)

These are not easy to remove in just a few clicks by inexperienced designers. And, as the microstock market grows everyday, we don't sell anymore just to experienced designers. Try to make your work available to more buyers, by properly isolating those "isolated" subjects.

You can find lots of tips and tricks for isolating subjects if you browse trough the blogs section, or even on message boards. Just to point a few:
1. Isolated objects with clipping path
2. An easy way to remove stray pixels

Shure, a nice, small reflection under the subject can make your photos more appealing sometimes, but the main quality of a successful stock image should be its usefulness. Try to focus on that, because nobody will buy a nice picture if it can't be used.

In very short time, we will proceed to a suplimentary review for the "isolated" pictures already accepted in our database. So, an useful task for everybody would be: search your own portfolio for "isolated" and update the titles, descriptions and keywords if necessary. If the images are not properly isolated, remove the word from all the fields (title, description and keywords).

This will bring more relevancy to the entire database, and hopefully, in time, more new customers and more sales for everybody.

Comments (51)

Posted by Algol on October 05, 2011
Only just seen this as I was pointed here in response to a question in the forum. I'm amazed there doesn't seem to have been an official announcement for this! I have hundreds of isolated illustrations and up 'til today all accepted as such. None of them have drop shadows etc. and all can be easily removed from their white background. But today two have been rejected for this reason. Does this mean half my portfolio is about to be deleted? This seems ridiculous.
Posted by Melonstone on September 17, 2011
I get where DT is coming from regarding truly "isolated" images, but it would be an advantage if we were allowed to replace existing images that may have shadows etc with an identical "isolated" image otherwise we will lose sales. Should we remove the word "isolated" now from existing images or wait until DT prompts us (which may well allow more sales to accrue in the meantime)?
Posted by Twoellis on September 07, 2011
Okay, I just have to put my 2 cents in here. I've been a designer with several industry leaders as well as major advertising firms since 1986. If I, or anyone else I've ever worked with needs an isolated image, the objective is to find an object uncluttered with other items; a single rose, not an entire garden; a diamond ring, not one accompanied by a lovely hand...you get the idea. By discriminating against single items that may contain a shadow or reflection from searches that contain the term "isolated" is truly limiting from my perspective. And since the majority of my portfolio contains such images, I know with certainty that the keyword "isolated" was the number one factor in many of my sales on at least one other site that shows such information.
Posted by Wimstime on August 26, 2011
Updated port, at your service, what's next? ;)
Posted by Lucadp on August 12, 2011
hi to all, another 3d artist here :)
Very interesting question, and i agree with Jocky, because the reflections and shadows in 3d renders are better then postpro effects. In my software i can switch off shadows/reflections in one second, so, for me, this is not a problem, but i think that in certain cases the same image can have Buyers that need those effects and others that dont. So the dilemma is: is easier to remove existing shadows/reflections or to fake them in post pro? In an ideal world the Buyer could choose what is better for him and i think that the Jocky's idea to use png could be a solution.
Posted by Jocky on August 12, 2011
Ok, let's say I agree (do I have another choice? :) but for the 3d artists of DT, can you take a little time to think about maybe a new category at least, because the images of 3d artists have realistic soft shadows and reflections and not poor Photoshop effects.
Another thing that been discussed would be the additional format with PNG files. So I've been testing this issue with several images and here are the results if we use the alpha channels of the imeges: 1. If we cut out the image's background with the alpha channel and save as the original image (colored) but on transparent background then the size is approximately doubled! and it is not that nice for the database. 2. If we replace the original layer with the alpha channel, in other words: alpha channel will be used as the additional format in 8bit or Grayscale, the file size for a 21 Mp image would only be about 325 KB.
Thinking about Clipping path, all I can say that it could not be compared in any way with the power of the...(More)
Posted by Eternalfeelings on August 11, 2011
Interesting theme. Thank You...
Posted by Livingstonatlarge on August 10, 2011
Okay, so I've checked my images on white backgrounds and have removed anything that says "isolated" in any that have tiny shadows. What is going to happen about the category listing that I cannot change? Are you guys going to move them, or are they going to get dumped out of the system and have to be resubmitted?
Posted by Flowerpistol on August 03, 2011
As a designer, I find those drop shadows so annoying. I find lots of great "isolated" images that require Photoshopping/erasing of the shadows. I'm excited that searching for isolated images may become easier.
A recent project I did was a multi-panel coupon for savings on barbecue items. I had a salad, bbq sauce bowl with brush, glass of beer and beef skewers all placed on a purple or tan background. I only purchased images with no shadow.
Posted by Dudau on July 30, 2011
Piccia, you've asked a good question and we're looking into it. If possible, we'll implement this feature in the near future. You're not a pain, of course, but at this moment it doesn't seem so easy to implement, and each software change is carefully studied before going live. I can assure you that we're searching for solutions, but things are not changing in a few hours or days.
Posted by Lobe on July 30, 2011
Yes, an interesting theme. I only have started to study stock photo, I will consider this moment:-)
Posted by Fleyeing on July 30, 2011
Finally! I came across so many faux-isolated images on DT the past years that I thought it wasn't a priority any more. Great to see that the "cutout" and "silo" will be enforced.
Posted by Onime on July 29, 2011
great blog. thanks for sharing
Posted by Piccianeri on July 29, 2011
And on that note, quite a few hours later – Viorel, can you provide an answer regarding the clipping paths? or any other admin?

So sorry to insist, but I do think it's a major issue. Please forgive if I'm a pain.

thank you
Posted by Piccianeri on July 28, 2011
Love your sunflowers by the way.

Sunnymars, they are indeed gorgeous – but they are not mine! they are Notebook's. Congratulations to her, she's an inspiration.
Posted by Piccianeri on July 28, 2011
Just to explain what I mean: for instance, an image like this    Yellow Flower Background, Summer or Spring Theme   
could contain a clipping path of one of the sunflowers. This would make it infinitely more appealing to the buyer, and boost sales.

The same goes for an image like this    Angel statue in a cemetery   

I worked hard at creating a perfect clipping path in order to insert a different sky behind the statue (the original blue one was too bland) so why not make that available?

Or in the case of an image like this    Limes    where the shadow is, IMO, necessary for a better realism, the clipping path would bring lots of added value because you could still, technically, sell it as isolated while keeping the pleasing...(More)
Posted by Piccianeri on July 28, 2011
Sunnymars, hopefully it is so.

If some much importance is given on a correct definition of 'isolated', then a fool-proof way of guaranteeing isolation also should be high on the agenda – both my clipping path and your PNG.

If I were (and I often am) a designer looking for a truly 'isolated' image (IMO, only a clipping path is truly good enough) and was offered the option of a clipping path on a competitor site (they DO offer it), I would have no hesitation in going for the clipping path.

I use the clipping path anyway as the best way, in my opinion, to effectively remove a background. So why not include it in my upload? It cannot be an insurmountable technical issue.
Posted by Neirfy on July 28, 2011
Yes - in that case I would also suggest a new category and (or) new keyword that would make it possible for customers to search in both way - with and without shadows - I don't know maybe - fully isolated and partly isolated - than ones can search in both categories together or in one he(she) prefere
Posted by Piccianeri on July 28, 2011
Sorry Sunnymars, only saw your reply now - thanks for explaining.

I understand your frustration re: PNG. I agree with you and also insist on my point: with the ability to include a clipping path at all sizes a lot of problems would be resolved and buyers would get a much better product.

so, the question again: are we able to include clipping paths yet? I keep on wondering...
Posted by Piccianeri on July 28, 2011
Viorel, or any other admin, would you mind answering my question re: the clipping paths? thank you
Posted by Inganielsen on July 28, 2011
OK, assuming I am a designer looking for an isolated image of a rearing horse for roche.com website

I need to put it on a white page, but I do not care about a little shadows under the hoofs.

Earlier all I needed to do is to search for "rearing horse isolated". After this new change I will have to search for "rearing horse isolated" and than keep checking by hand "rearing horse" category. Hoping to find a sutable image that is in fact isolated on white. Ecept for that little shadow.

An example of such an image:

May I offer a solution, please?

Instead of the term "isolated" create two new ones:
"fully isolated" and "partially isolated". Either as a keyword or a new category.

Yes, I agree!

Maybe an additional category "objects on white(/black/single colored&...(More)
Posted by Piccianeri on July 28, 2011
Sorry Sunnymars, what do you mean by that? that if I save as PNG the path will remain? Is PNG an accepted file format?
Posted by Anyaivanova on July 28, 2011
OK, assuming I am a designer looking for an isolated image of a rearing horse for roche.com website

I need to put it on a white page, but I do not care about a little shadows under the hoofs.

Earlier all I needed to do is to search for "rearing horse isolated". After this new change I will have to search for "rearing horse isolated" and than keep checking by hand "rearing horse" category. Hoping to find a sutable image that is in fact isolated on white. Exept for that little shadow.

An example of such an image:

May I offer a solution, please?

Instead of the term "isolated" create two new ones:
"fully isolated" and "partially isolated". Either as a keyword or a new category.
Posted by Piccianeri on July 28, 2011
Having just had a rejection because of the isolation issue, I have just posted in this thread re: the clipping path issue, which is directly related to isolation.

Viorel, can you please help? Has DT's software been updated, can we upload a clipping path at all sizes now?

Often images that have pure white behind the do not look great, while a little shadow gives a bit of depth and realism. So, with the clipping path option we could offer both – shadow, or even the whole of the background, and isolation. Immensely useful for a designer (and I know, because I am one)

If we could have the clipping path at all sizes the improvement would be massive for everybody – above all, buyers. As most of you probably know, competitors do it an d I know it's a huge sale-booster. Much more than a simple pure white background, because it saves lots of time and offers many more possibilities.
Posted by Tristana on July 28, 2011
The world has gone mad. Such shade is erased for 10 seconds...
Posted by Dudau on July 28, 2011
No, they're not isolated. The easy thing to do when you have this kind of isolation is to remove the keyword if the photos already have sales. If they don't have any sales yet, you can disable them, fix the background and upload them again. I repeat, do not re-upload them before disabling the old files.
Posted by Tristana on July 28, 2011
Ops! Is it the "isolated"?
Posted by Dudau on July 28, 2011
They are not useless, of course, but they're not isolated either. You just have to remove the word "isolated" from the title, description and keywords.
Posted by Silent47 on July 28, 2011
So..anything that is on white background and has a small shadow (natural or artificial) is consider to be not isolated?If so,,,all my photos on white are useless:)Like these images:
   A question mark looking in the Recycle Bin   
   A question mark in a transparent ball   
Posted by Rolmat on July 28, 2011
@Viorel_dudau - ok, if team of DT think if would be better for customers, we`ll do that way. But I realy have some doubts - if designer have no editings skills what he supposed to do with white reflexes on borders of isolated on white objects, humans, etc ? And if he have some skills it is very easy to remove shadows. May be your can place just some tips how it can be done in customers guide?

Hey Neirfy, that's exactly the main point here.

Shadows, reflections, or any other effects over an object/subject over white/solid color are not good examples of an isolated subject. It's just a matter of including the isolated keyword or not. You don't have to to change your images at all. Just make the information you provide relevant and accurate. If your image is really subject to be easily isolated, you can keyword it accordingly.

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Comments (51)

This article has been read 8512 times. 20 readers have found this article useful.
Photo credits: Edhar Yralaits, Editor77, Irochka, Martinmark, Mohamed Osama, Photoeuphoria, Yuri_arcurs.

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Never in my life had I thought I would become a photographer... It all started as a small business, in a small town, for small money. I bought my first (small) camera to shoot graduation portraits in high schools. But then, having a digital camera, I took it anywhere with me, and shot everything I saw. This is how the passion grew on me. Photography soon became my passion, my job, my life. The passion got bigger, the camera got bigger, and the money also (because I never forgot about the business factor). Finding my passion and making money from it led to a beaut... [Read more]

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