Don’t assume you know everything!

What a strange title! But I realized over the past few days that what I have been doing with editorial shots was not only a lot of hard work – it was unnecessary as well! For the past year, I have been uploading editorial shots to the stock agencies using the guidance in this Shutterstock blog article, Creating the Perfect Editorial Caption. Basically, a perfect caption is like this:

GDANSK, POLAND – 16 SEPTEMBER: Hyundai cars on dockside on 16 September 2017 in Gdansk, Poland. Hyundai sold over 7.8M vehicles in 2016.

It has the date, location, then a description, then the location again and finally something that makes it newsworthy – a “qualifying newsworthy statement” as Shutterstock explains it. This same caption is accepted at all the other sites and so I have been dutifully writing these captions and then searching online for some fact that I could use to make it “newsworthy”. As you can imagine, that makes the keywording and describing of each image much more complex.

Then recently I was looking at some of the competition on the Shutterstock site and noticed that many of them just had a simple description of the scene. No attempt at that “fact” or newsworthy statement that I had been struggling with. I always thought it was a bit of a nonsense having to write such a thing, but I was so convinced that I had to do it, that I just blindly continued!

So, I decided to try uploading a series of shots that I had only uploaded to Zoonar during the time that I just found all this editorial stuff too complex, and low and behold, they were all accepted by Shutterstock and the other agencies with a simple statement of what we were looking at. So I carried on just adding that date and location header in front of my existing descriptions, and all were accepted. Almost 200 new images so far like this:

LONDON, UK – OCTOBER 1, 2015: Aerial view of Houses of Parliament and Big Ben from London Eye in Westminster, London England

This particular image already had the location at the end of the sentence so I left it there. Others were accepted with statements like this:

NIAGARA FALLS, CANADA – JUNE 28, 2016: Hornblower cruise boat takes tourists to Horseshoe waterfall on Canadian side of Niagara Falls

So the moral of this story is – don’t take for granted that you have to do things the way you have always done them. Check on the latest information from time to time – it could save you a lot of time and effort!

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7 Responses

  1. Compuinfoto says:

    O that’s worth trying Steve, thx I have the same issue

  2. This is further evidence that SS has been softening its QC standards in the past year.

    You’re right. Researching for facts to justify an editorial piece as “newsworthy” is often a waste of time at a time when have a heavy workload.

    • admin says:

      In this case, I don’t think this is softening of standards. I think they were wrong in the first place. An image doesn’t have to be immediately newsworthy to go into an editorial collection – it just needs to have some reasonable expectation of being newsworthy at some point in the future. So an image of people entering a Walmart store isn’t immediately newsworthy, but when it is used to illustrate an article about Walmart building new stores, then it is available for editorial use at that time. All Shutterstock have done is come into line with a more reasonable way of describing editorial images.

  3. AlessandraRC says:

    This is indeed true. One thing I ran against is that writing that statement usually took more words than they allow in the description field. That’s when I started cutting it off.

  4. Fabian says:

    Hi Steve,

    great blog, been reading for a while!

    Just wondering whether you put the editorial caption as title as well as description in Stocksubmitter or just as one of each. I have done it this way so far and every agency but iStock is okay with it. The latter apparently doesn’t accept the location and date in the title.


    • admin says:

      Hi Fabian
      No – I usually have a shorter title (and often try to put a different keyword or two in there compared to the description). I normally keyword in Lightroom because I want to be able to find the original files (the Raw ones have the keywords) and doing that in Stock Submitter wouldn’t suit my way of working.

  1. December 19, 2017

    […] I can search across multiple folders if necessary. As I mentioned a few weeks back, I realized that Shutterstock and the other sites accept simpler editorial captions and so I use those simpler formats to speed things […]

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