Getting accepted at Shutterstock requires passing an initial 10 image approval. See our best tips to get your first submission approved at Shutterstock.

Passing Shutterstock’s First 10 Images Approval

Updated: 2017

If you’ve been reading any of the information here at Microstock Man, you’ll know how highly I recommend Shutterstock as an agency. In fact, if you are even slightly serious about making some money from microstock then you simply must be selling your work on Shutterstock. It’s that simple.

Passing Shutterstock’s First 10 Images Approval

However after the initial step of signing up with Shutterstock and securing your username, there is one significant hurdle to pass before you can start selling your images. Shutterstock require you to submit 10 images (either photos or vector, it doesn’t matter) to pass an initial examination process. This is in place to make sure that contributors meet Shutterstock’s high standards before they begin uploading hundreds of photos or vectors. Once you have passed, you are a fully fledged Shutterstock contributor and from then on you just have the same image review process that every other contributor has.

This first 10 images process can seem daunting as a newcomer to microstock. But fear not – it’s not as impossible to pass as you may think. In fact it has become a LOT easier in recent times. So your chances of passing the Shutterstock test is much higher now. However, there are some simple tips that can increase your chances of getting accepted on your first go. First of all though, lets make clear the basic requirements, so that there isn’t any nasty surprises…

Shutterstock’s First 10 Image Requirements

  • 10 of your best images, photos or vector, with keywords and descriptions
  • 1 out of 10 must pass inspection (this used to be 8 out of 10!)
  • If you fail, you must wait 30 days to try again

Obviously none of us want to wait 30 days again and again, fail after fail. I know, I failed the first time I applied to Shutterstock! But after getting accepted second time around I now have a portfolio numbering in the thousands. So, what made the difference on my second application? What are some tips to getting approved to sell on Shutterstock?

Shutterstock’s First 10 Image Approval – Tips To Get Accepted

  • Read through their guidelines first, so you know what they accept
  • Choose YOUR BEST images, not just the ones that you have an emotional attachment to
  • Examine each image zoomed in at 100% or even 200% to remove dust spots, noise, flare, etc (even for vectors to find stray lines, nodes)
  • Make sure each image is technically sound – composition, contrast, saturation, no blown out highlights or noisy shadows
  • Make your submission diverse if possible (and if you are good at lots of things) – eg: 2 studio shots, 2 isolation’s, 2 nature, 2 people, 2 sports (not 10 photos of your cat, no matter how cute)
  • Show them how creative, passionate and technically sound you are
  • You don’t have to submit 20mp files just because your camera makes them – Shutterstock requires 4mp minimum, so perhaps submit your first 10 downsized to reduce any minor imperfections and increase your chances of approval
  • Learn from the rejection reasons given if you do fail your first time
  • Visit the forum and ask others for critique (if you have thick skin!) before your second attempt at approval
  • Educate yourself on software best practise to improve (not destroy!) your images

Bumpy Road Stock Photo

Rejection is part of the experience in microstock. However it’s nice to know that you can minimise it to a large degree. Don’t be too precious about your work. Generally speaking, if a Shutterstock reviewer rejects one of your images then the rejection reason given will be relevant and worth looking into.

For instance, when I first began in microstock I got many images rejected for “too much noise.” At first I thought this was crazy, as my images have been used in various magazines and newspapers without any objection for years. However, after re-examining my images at 100% and comparing them with others for sale as microstock I soon realised this was a real problem. After making the needed corrections my acceptance ratio went through the roof. Lesson learned.

So consider carefully what you will submit as your initial 10 images for the Shutterstock approval process. Employ the tips above and rest assured you will think the effort was worthwhile once you have been accepted!

(Have you got any other tips for getting accepted at Shutterstock? Let us know below!)

2 replies
  1. RebekB
    RebekB says:

    Thank you for these tips, I kept them in mind as I was picking out photos for my first portfolio submission, and…I got in on my first try. I’m still a little stunned by that! And thank you for all the great reviews of stock websites, it helped me direct my efforts and figure out where I wanted to be.

    • MicrostockMan
      MicrostockMan says:

      Hey RebekB, thanks for the kind words. Well done on getting accepted on your first go to Shutterstock – that is a real achievement! That initial submission test can be a tricky one.

      All the best with getting started at the other stock agencies as well. Hope you continue enjoying the site.

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