Do you have old photographs just hanging around on your hard drive, taking up space? If you do, then perhaps you should consider uploading them to Adobe Stock. You never really know what sort of image someone out there is looking for - they might just want to use that shot that you currently have buried away in the archives. Sometimes, these old shots may require a little bit more work in order to ensure that they will measure up to stock submission standards, but the opportunity to make revenue on work you've already shot makes it a worthwhile venture. If you have old files you want to breathe new life into, the following guide for prepping and submitting those archived shots is just for you.
One of the most common reason why submissions are rejected is due to excessive noise. Since this is such a big issue with many submissions, we'll cover this one first. This is typically caused by a high ISO setting for content captured in low-light situations, but it also can occur when trying to push underexposed images too much, even if they weren't captured in a low-light setting. If your original edit of an image was too noisy, try reworking it to incorporate some noise reduction techniques for bringing it back into the realm of acceptability for stock submissions. Below is a close-up view of the image used as the cover for this article. I re-processed this image specifically to submit to Adobe Stock.
This image is old enough that my skills as a photo retoucher were pretty new and in need of much improvement when I took it. In terms of noise, the only real difference in the before and after shots is that I simply didn't crank the image sharpening nearly as high. Back when I originally processed the shot, I had pushed the sharpness to the point where the grain visible in the image stood out like a sore thumb. Toning that back down was simple enough to get this image ready for submission.
Get the Exposure Right
The best way to double-check your image before submitting it is to analyze the histogram for it. If you are repurposing a shot for stock usage, try to bring any overexposure down and brighten up any underexposed areas. Many shots will be in the salvageable range for stock, but you might need to put in a little work to make sure they're at their best before you submit them.
A blurry shot isn't in and of itself a bad shot, specifically if you are going for an abstract piece of work. Just know that the more stylized the image, the narrower your potential audience will be. However, for the majority of stock photography submissions, purchasers will want nice, tack-sharp images, so only submit images that are in focus with your subject nice and sharp.
Keep Iterations to a Minimum
Just because you have a bunch of shots of the same subject with slight differences between them doesn't necessarily mean that you should submit them all. Adobe specifically requests that you don't submit both a color and black-and-white version for any shot. Stock purchasers will more than likely have all the tools they need if they need to turn an image to black-and-white. For shots with slightly varying camera angles, ask yourself why you would pick one shot over the other. If you have a viable reason for each shot, then it might be worth submitting them both. But if you don't, simply pick the best of the two and submit that one.
Don't Go Nuts with Style
When repurposing old shots to qualify for stock photography, remember to keep the effect work and stylization to a minimum. Most people who browse for stock photography have a specific need in mind. The more effects and styles you apply to the image, the narrower your audience becomes. Realistically, most of them will want to modify your image in some way or another anyway, so let them be the ones who apply all the heavy stylization. This before/after example has plenty of things in this entire list that needed fixing, but one of the most glaringly obvious is the heavy use of styles and filters, specifically that super heavy vignette that simply wouldn't do for stock photography.
Watch for Technical Problems
Reasons why your shot might get declined include a range of potential technical issues. Some of these can easily be corrected when reworking your shot for stock. Since you're reprocessing the image anyway, pay close attention to the following potential problems and do your best to even them out before submitting your shot for consideration:
- White balance
- Chromatic aberration
- General composition
Get Required Releases
If you're reworking an old shot of a person who is easily recognized by themselves in the image or if the image is of any recognizable property, ticketed location, or a landscape such as a national park, you will need to go back and get model releases and/or property releases before Adobe will accept your shot. Property releases are a big deal. The last thing you, Adobe, or any buyer needs is a complicated legal situation over rights or a release. If you have shots that require it, take the time to get the release before starting to rework the image.
Use Your Imagination
There are many who have found stock photography to be a lucrative opportunity. Repurposing your old images for stock use is yet another way you can gain some residual income from your hard work. Scour those hard drives, and if you find an image that needs a bit of extra work, spend the time to crop, edit, or reframe the image to give it new life. You never know, it might just work fantastically in your favor.