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.

Winter Doldrums

Sandhill Cranes during the Spring migration in Monte Vista, Colorado.

While I don’t mind Winter in Colorado, it’s still my slowest time of year for photography.

I spend most days puttering around the house, taking care of the odd chores, here and there. Meet up with friends for lunch. Visit with family. Play with the dogs. Watch a lot of movies. Things like that.

But, there is still work to do and plans for the making.

I try to spend an hour or two each day sifting through the photography catalogs. I have thousands and thousands of photographs to browse through. The idea is to find at least 10 images a day to upload to the stock agencies. It does get a little repetitive, particularly with some of the wildlife photos. How many different duck shots does one really need? Well, as it turns out, the more the better. I sell a duck photo at least once a week and though there are some repeats, often times it’s a different shot. So I add them up and figure any given photo has to potential to earn $100 over time, many have far exceeded that number, so it’s never an exercise in futility to identify and prepare an image for micro-stock sales.

The goal this year is to have at least 3,000 images online, making money. Here it is late January and I already have over 2,700 photographs online. There’s no emergency. I haven’t really begun working in earnest this year and I’m already close to being done with that project. Yet still, I take the time to do it. At least 10 shots a day. Usually listening to the radio in the process. It makes those cold winter days go by gently.

The next adventure I have actually scheduled is a return to Monte Vista, Colorado to photograph the Sandhill Crane migration. I’ve done this trip many times, last year being the most recent. Last year was an abortion though, as I had to knock off just as I was getting started due to a mechanical issue with my car. What I learned last year was invaluable though. First, always take a pickup truck to Southwest Colorado, as they don’t sell tires for passenger vehicles down there. Nobody owns Subarus. Everyone owns a pickup truck and that’s about all you’ll find tires for. What I also learned is that I can get different shots of the same locations if I put my mind to doing that. Don’t just keep getting the same photos over and over, look for specific images that I don’t have and concentrate on getting those. What little I accomplished in 2018 was based on that premise, and those images have been selling. I’m greedy though. I want more. I’m bored too. I want to get out and spend a few days working from my pickup truck and eating junk food. It’s a way of life.

The Sandhill Cranes move through Monte Vista each year in early-mid March. They even have a Festival to celebrate the occasion, but I avoid the Festival, usually going the week after the Festival concludes.

I’ve made my hotel reservations. I’m planning my shoot list. That will take me a few days to finalize. Then it’s back to editing stock photos.

Winter is a quiet time here in Colorado.


Adventures in Stock Photography

Raven Photo by Gary Gray
Raven in Utah

Today’s post is about life in the stock photography world.

This photograph of a raven was taken on my last trip to Moab, mostly on a whim. These birds have always frequented this particular area and they are totally unafraid of humans. I have seen them climb in cars and look around for food and stuff.

This happens frequently.

Without mentioning names, one of the stock agencies I used rejected this image as they felt it had “no commercial value or appeal”

Okay, fine. It’s not a work of art. The other agencies I submitted it to all approved the image.

Today, I sold the first copy of this image on one of my stock agencies and it was not just a simple 35 cent sale. It actually made me a few dollars and I’d bet it sells again.

The lesson I suppose is; any photo not earning income is worthless.

Even a photograph someone deemed worthless has value. Never take it personal when you get rejected and never believe a photo is worthless based on one person’s opinion.