The shoot was a success, the selection has been made and now the best images should be sent off to the agency for marketing. While it’s great to have a successful production behind you, be sure to keep in mind some important details before submitting your photos, so that nothing can hinder your images from enjoying lucrative sales.

At Westend61, we’ve compiled the 12 most common reasons why even the greatest images sometimes aren’t able to be marketed. This handy guide for photographers has been created to help avoid receiving rejections for submitted images.

© Gemma Ferrando/Westend61

Legal Issues

1. Missing Releases for People Visible in the Image
A model release is required for all people who are depicted and recognizable in the image – even if the people only appear in a photo contained within the image, for instance, as a framed picture on a wall or a Skype contact on a computer screen, etc. This also applies to body parts, particularly when they can be identified as belonging to a specific person through features such as tattoos or piercings.

2. Missing Releases for Locations
A property release signed by the owner/leaser of a property is required for all non-public places, whether outdoors or indoors (with the exception of photo studios).

3. Missing Releases for Home Furnishings and Designs
A property release signed by the artist or copyright holder is required for all visual imagery and artwork (such as sculptures, paintings, posters, photos, book covers, etc.).

Preferably supply your own artwork for rooms, such as drawings and photos.
Book spines and covers, as well as DVD/CD/magazine covers, should not be displayed in a readable or recognizable manner.

4. Missing Releases for Pets
Images featuring pets require a property release signed by the pet’s owner. Wild animals, stray cats or dogs and livestock do not require a release.

We provide all contracted Westend61 photographers with the appropriate forms and support concerning such legal aspects.

© HalfPoint/Westend61

Quality Issues

5. Blurriness
If faults such as blurriness are discovered during the quality control check, the image will be rejected. Therefore, before submitting your images, it’s best to examine your images carefully in 100% view to make sure they are not out of focus or blurry.

6. Image Processing
Heavily manipulated images (containing intensely saturated color schemes, high contrasts, etc.) make it difficult for the customer to customize the image (for instance, to adapt the colors to a specific color palette). This in turn narrows the range of buyers for the image.

7. Image Size/Trimming
48.2 MB is the minimum file size for an uncompressed image. Heavily trimming the image can potentially limit the image’s options for re-use.

© Josep Rovirosa/Westend61

Other Reasons

8. Styling
The styling of the models should be contemporary and demonstrate coordination among the models. This allows for the images to be sold for a longer period of time. A few loose strands of hair can draw the focus away from the face and will most likely lead to tedious post-production retouching. Makeup and accessories should be subdued and chosen to allow the image a versatile range of usage. To avoid time consuming post-production touch up work, avoid logos and prints wherever possible.

9. Image Format
Landscape mode is the best-selling format in stock photography. With sufficient resolution, the customer has the possibility to alter the format by cropping the image. Delivering images solely in portrait mode may present a reason for rejection.

10. Image Description
A vague or missing description, especially concerning very specific subjects, complicates the editing process and the subsequent keywording of the images, making it difficult for customers to search for and find them.

11. Pre-Selection
Poorly pre-selecting images (which means submitting numerous nearly identical subjects) unnecessarily complicates and adds additional time to the editing process. Moreover, this will not increase the number of accepted images.

12. Missing /Ambiguous Image Concepts
To estimate the marketing viability of images before planning a production, it is helpful to think about which potential customer base the images will have. Which uses, descriptions, keywords and concepts do you envision? If the concepts aren’t very clear, there’s also not much chance that the image will be sought after and/or found.

Our art directors are available to assist you before, during and after a production so that you can avoid making the mistakes mentioned in this guide. That’s how we can work together to bring out the best in your images!

© Javier Pardina/Westend61

Not yet a contracted photographer with Westend61? Then send us your portfolio and get in touch with our Art Direction department – we’re looking forward to receiving your application. Write to us at and send along 30 – 50 of your best images to give us a good idea of your work.