I am using Canon EOS 1200D with 50mm lens and getting rejected on shutterstock due to the rejection reason below, what is the solution to this and How can I can improve my photography? I have attached here some of my photos.

The main subject is out of focus or is not in focus due to camera shake, motion blur, overuse of noise reduction, or technical limitations of the equipment used (e.g. autofocus searching, camera sensor quality, etc).


  • \$\begingroup\$ Also this: photo.stackexchange.com/q/61230/34947 \$\endgroup\$ Sep 14, 2022 at 11:03
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    \$\begingroup\$ Sounds to me like a good reason not to submit to Shutterstock... \$\endgroup\$
    – Zeiss Ikon
    Sep 14, 2022 at 11:05
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    \$\begingroup\$ @ZeissIkon, sounds for me like a good reason to submit photos to several agencies at once. :D \$\endgroup\$ Sep 14, 2022 at 11:16
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    \$\begingroup\$ Sounds to me like a good reason to take better photos that are more well suited to the use case for which users buy rights to images via Shutterstock. \$\endgroup\$
    – Michael C
    Sep 14, 2022 at 21:40
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    \$\begingroup\$ Upvoted. I think it is a pity that reactions to this question are so negative and that the question is closed so fast. It is not the same question as the duplicate IMO, there the main issue was sharpness, here many other things are mentioned. I think people should not be discouraged from asking these kind of questions. Difficult technical questions may be more interesting for experienced users here, but these kind of questions can also help many beginning photographers, and that is also what this site is for IMO. \$\endgroup\$
    – Orbit
    Sep 16, 2022 at 14:06

1 Answer 1


I'm sure some of the time, such as Shutterstock use AI to do the first pass, so if something doesn't fit the 'rules' it's kicked straight out. It's as though they want a big neon sign saying "This is the subject" & if they don't spot it immediately, it's rejected.

However - this picture has no 'big neon sign'. At first glance it's all 'just leaves'. Look closer & you might think it's the three in the middle. Look closer still & you realise the only sharp area in the photo is the small leaf right at the front.
As that's, at a guess, less than 10% of the total image, the AI would kick it out at that point.

However, had it passed on to a human, there are larger issues.
Even if the main group of three leaves had all been sharp, there's still little to differentiate foreground from background.

Overall, it's very dark - not itself a bad thing, but in this case as the entire image is fairly homogenous it's an issue. The tiny bits of specularity on the three leaves aren't enough to really lift them into the foreground.

If you were to boost the lighting, there's still no real separation. Here's a fairly hard push & sharpen, ignoring that it brings the noise with it. In fact this is probably worse, it makes the background more distracting. To have a proper go at it I'd separate the foreground from background & emphasise one whilst softening the other.

enter image description here

Further, in terms of separation, not only are the background leaves all very similarly lit, they also not really out of focus or soft enough to fully draw the eye to the subject. Overall, it comes over as a bit 'messy' or distracting.

There was a question on here a while ago, where someone wanted to 'rescue' a shot of a leaf against a confusing background. They didn't have the same overall homogeneity issue, but there were a lot of distractions.
How to crop this photo of water drops on a leaf to improve the composition?

TL:DR was that we took this…

enter image description here

and turned it into this…

enter image description here

Overall darker than the original, but a greater percentage of the final frame in sharp focus & much less in the way of background distractions.

So, to summarise:
More distinct sharp subject, filling a greater percentage of the image.
Differentiated background, by colour, contrast and/or softness.
Negative space works but it needs to be more clearly differentiated.
Cull distractions eg the horizontal twig, yellowing leaf.

I'm sure others will think of more things to think about, but that's my 'starter for ten', as they say.


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