Rejection and Redemption

Group of Sandhill Cranes Near Monte Vista, Colorado.

Nobody likes to feel rejected.

If you are in to stock photography, you will be rejected and more than once. It is a fact of life and I don’t normally dwell on the images that are rejected by any particular stock agency.

Sometimes, you’ll find redemption. As in the case of today’s photograph of a flock of Sandhill Cranes I took on my recent trip to Monte Vista.

Shortly after returning from my annual trip, I submitted this image along with a couple dozen other shots to all of the stock agencies I use.

Of all those submitted images, only one of them was rejected by any agency.  This one. My third best agency, which I’ll refrain from mentioning by name, but historically speaking, the same agency that I seem to get the strangest rejection reasons from.

Agency #3 rejected this shot for “technical reasons”, but they didn’t really define what the technical reason was. I reviewed the image on the computer to see if I could make the determination for myself. I normally try to review my rejected image to understand what I need to look for in the future.

Okay, so what’s wrong with this shot?  The composition isn’t the best, the birds could have been a little closer but they weren’t. I’ve submitted numerous other images that were less interesting with no problems.  I don’t think it was a composition problem.  Maybe it was the focus. Flying birds are sometimes difficult to get a good sharp focus on. Well, in the case of this photo there is one bird that is tack sharp, the others are all slightly soft. That’s normal for this type of shot though. Flying birds require a fast shutter speed, in this case 1/2000th of a second and that fast shutter speed requires a more open aperture. In this case the shot was made at f/6.3. Depth of field is a secondary concern normally for shots like this, but I’m guessing they wanted all the birds in focus. Oh well, not really practical if so. One doesn’t get great depth of field with super telephoto lenses at high shutter speeds. Just a photographic fact of life. The ISO was kept as low as possible and for this shot to have all the birds in the focal plane would have required an aperture of f/16 or more.

Oh well. The facts of life in stock photography. The folks reviewing the photos may not understand what is feasible from a photographic standpoint, they just see something they don’t like and kick it back to you as unusable.

I licked my little boo boo and got over it as I always do. But still, I ponder the inconsistency of this. All the other agencies approved the photo, along with some photos I thought less of.  Surely, I’m as good a judge of a photograph as anyone else I thought.

But then something interesting happened.

Two days after having the image approved by my #1 stock agency, the photo sold twice within an hour on the same day. One commission was $25, the other was $2.70.  Different licenses result in different commissions. But I felt immediate redemption on the matter. There’s a reason the #1 agency is #1. There’s also a reason the #3 agency is #3. I’ll probably see more sales of this shot in the future. If I don’t make another penny on it, I’ll be happy with the results.

Stock agency #3; however, will never make a cent on it. That’s too bad for them and for me.

A bird in the hand is worth more than a rejection.

The moral of this story is; don’t allow the fear of rejection keep you from doing something.

For every rejection you experience in life, there is always a path to redemption.