Update on my Workflow & Dealing with Graffiti Rejections

I’ve recently got back from a month-stay in Rio and even though I did quite a bit of work while there, I still have some 500 images to go through. What laypersons don’t realise about this game is that time-wise, shooting is just a small part of the workflow.

Speeding up my workflow

Stocksubmitter is a Godsend since it massively optimises the tedious uploading process. I can’t think of anything more boring than clicking through dozens of boxes to (re)submit.

Here’s a screenshot of this cool piece of software:


As per one of my New Years’ Resolutions, I’ve decided to add a few more agencies in to the mix for my non-premium images. In fact, these are all of the agencies I’ve recently started to submit using Stocksubmitter:


Adobe Stock / Fotolia








iStock (reluctantly)



Note: I didn’t bother with CreativeMarket, PantherMedia, Photodune (Envato)

Another NY resolution is reporting my earnings. Since I’m starting from scratch with many it will make for interesting earnings comparisons on my style of photography.

Where do my Premium images go?

My best images still go over to Robert Harding (exclusively) and Alamy (editorially-exclusively).

The Writing is on the Wall

I have a lot of work to do and my patience is running thin, to be honest. What’s pissing me off the most is iStock’s graffiti rejections. Shutterstock to a lesser extent.

You see, I’ve taken dozens of aerial photos of Rio de Janeiro and unfortunately most of the walls/buildings are covered in unsightly tags. Not the pretty art types, for the most part, but just vandalism in the form of those annoying donkey-signatures. I’ll show you an example:


Turns out that this was enough to trigger a rejection by iStock:


Except it’s only visible at 100% – here’s the image at normal resolution – can you spot it?

Rio de Janeiro neighbourhood of Tijuca

Fuck off, Getty

Yea that’s right, fuck off, it’s barely visible. I’ve looked into their ridiculous so-called-graffiti-policy which is linked to the rejection reason:

“Graffiti, street art, and other urban art are offered the same protections as other artwork, and are therefore subject to copyright and/or trademark protection by the originating artist.

Any content featuring underlying artwork subject to copyright, should be avoided in commercial use content and pictured only in context of a larger story, setting, or event in editorial use content.

We cannot accept content containing graffiti as backdrop for model released shoots, nor can we accept property releases for structures inclusive of graffiti, without a release from the graffiti artist as well.”

Shutterstock’s Graffiti Policy

Shutterstock has taken a softer stance on graffiti, in some ways. Here’s a line from their announcement dated March 2016:

“We are no longer accepting images or footage for editorial use in which isolated graffiti artwork is the only or primary subject. This type of material can be accepted for commercial use only with a property release from the graffiti artist. Submissions where graffiti or street art is present but not the focus of the content may be accepted for commercial or editorial use on a case by case basis.”

Just goes to show that the above example from Rio was with the small tag was accepted with no issues at Shutterstock.

Yeah, keep protecting those vandals

Back at Getty, I would reasonably expect reviewers to be able to differentiate between a “works of street art” and a “tag”. Compare the above with the following:

Mural by Eduardo Kobra in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
Mural by Eduardo Kobra called “Etnias” located in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil is the world’s largest mural at 190-meter-long

Not a big deal, really

Normally this wouldn’t be a big deal, but like I stated earlier, I have dozens of aerials and it’s going to take me a huge investment of my time to clone out these tags. It’s just silly and frustrating, especially when iStock’s royalties are at an industry-low 15% for non-exclusives and an ever-present risk of licensing an image for 2 cents.

Don’t come to me with problems, bring solutions

My ex-boss used to say the above. So, looking at this positively, I may just go ahead and submit the aerial batch as editorial at iStock, even if it’s an added restriction which reduces the images’ value. So be it.

Back to admin – catch you guys later!


One comment

  1. […] Why is this retarded? Seriously? I have to zoom in at 200% to be able to see some “art” on a cityscape building. It’s a piece of cake to clone these out but why are you being such pricks about it when it’s only visible with a magnifying glass? Had a few of these on SS as well but they were quite a bit more prominent than this example above. I wrote about dealing with graffiti rejections on this blog post. […]


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