Workflow #6 – Submission

In the previous step of the workflow we saw how to upload images on different microstock websites, particularly by using the FTP service. Although the files have been uploaded correctly, this does not mean that the images have already been included in the review process. Indeed you still need to make a few actions by operating directly on your account on the websites of the agencies to which you’ve sent the files. For example, you may have to import files from the FTP folder to your account, because some agencies do not do this automatically (eg. Photodune). In other cases you need to select proper categories to your files before submitting them (eg. Shutterstock), set other informations (eg. Type of license, additional keywords, language, etc.) or append release forms to the files (if needed).

In fact, every agency has its own specific submission policy: for this reason it’s not possible to standardize this final step of the workflow. Some agencies allow you to set categories and other informations in bulk on multiple selections of files, saving a lot time (it’s the case of Shutterstock, of Photodune, Depositphotos and others), while other agencies force you to select those settings per single file, with great expenditure of time, especially if you have many files to be submitted (it’s the case of Dreamstime, just to make an example). An exception is made for iStock, which has an excellent files management software (Deepmeta) which allows, among many other functions, to completely prepare your files (also adding categories) before uploading them directly via the software to the server of the agency, without external FTP clients, with the result of having your images automatically submitted for approval without the need of additional steps on the iStock websites.

Returning to the image of Brooklyn Bridge object of this tutorial, let’s see the submission process on Shutterstock website. After the previous stage of uploading via FTP, just log in to your “contributor” account and click on “Porfolio” —> “Submit Images”: you will face a screen similar to the following one:


Submission screen on Shutterstock

In the next screen you will find listed all the files uploaded to the site properly, but still to be submitted for review. As you can see, Shutterstock automatically detects from the metadata of files sent both the title and the keywords previously associated by you. You still need to select some more informations for each file, through the pull-down menu on the right of each image. Among these informations, it is mandatory the indication of at least one category for the image. It’s not needed to select a second category, but doing it is only an advantage. You can also specify whether this is an illustration or a footage, if the artwork contains nudity, at what point of the image to place the Shutterstock watermark, whether it is an editorial image (for which, however, you would need to use a caption that meets specific criteria) and, finally, you can append model releases if this is the case.

All this informations should be set for each file, but if some images have common characteristics (as in this example), you can select them before applying the same settings to all images together. This option is very useful when you need to submit of many files covering the same subject, perhaps with different framing or different processing, but still similar about the categories to be set. Not all microstock agencies allow editing of the categories in such a convenient way, and in other cases you need to proceed image by image, which turns to be a very time-consuming activity.

Once you indicated categories and other settings for the files, you can either save your work, such as waiting to add more images and then submit them all together at a later time, either go on with the submission. You just select the files and click “submit for review“. Now Shutterstock will verify that there are no errors in the compilation of files, then after your confirmation the files will be finally sent for the process of review.

The reviewing process can greatly vary from agency to agency. In some cases you will see your files reviewed in a few hours (Canstock was usually very fast in this process), while in extreme cases it can take several weeks. The average, however, range from 3-4 days to a week on the major agencies. After approval, the images will be instantly published online and made available for sale. For files rejected, in some cases you can address rejection reasons indicated by reviewers (eg. lack of model release, problems with the keywords) and proceed with a new submission of the same files. In the worst case, the images will be rejected due to unsolvable technical problems (eg. out of focus) or because they are considered unsuitable for sale. In these cases you generally must give up to resubmit those files that have been rejected unreservedly. Keep in mind that quite frequently images rejected by an agency can be approved by other agencies, then it’s definitely worth trying.

Below is the image of the Brooklyn Bridge (with HDR processing) and approved for sale on Dreamstime.

Brooklyn Bridge, New York © 2013, in vendita su Dreamstime

Brooklyn Bridge, New York © 2013, on sale at Dreamstime

Go back to the previous phase of the workflow:

5. Uploading


Go back to the start of the workflow

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Expert in Marketing and Communication in a major company of the Italian FMCG market, traveler by vocation, passionate photographer, contributor at all major international microstock agencies, founder of Marcor$tock, a blog focused on Microstock Market and Digital Photography.