One of my YouTube content subscriptions out of Grand Rapids just posted a nine-minute video titled, "10 Ways to Stay Creatively Inspired This Winter". This is a great little pep-talk to get out of the blues we photographers get into during the nasty midwest brutal weather. The author cites specifics and interjects some of his own still photographs as examples. It is well worth the few minutes viewing, even re-viewing.

My personal project this winter is getting my photo archive better organized and joining a new stock-photo site as a contributor. I already contributed to Getty Images through the backdoor by my page on Now I just qualified as a "contributor" on Shutterstock. This latest exercise has proven very demanding since each submission is meticulously examined by a professional photo-editor for quality, and to make sure their stock photo guidelines and rules are followed. Minor flaws barely noticeable are cause for rejection. So this is my challenge. Once you get involved in a project like this, you get all sorts of ideas for more new and different photographs. Its one way to keep growing.

What I've learned with stock-photo sites is subject-matter doesn't count as much as photo quality. Submissions will often get rejected for being too soft or out-of-focus. Dust spots from the sensor must be fixed.

On the flip side, over-sharpening and noise in the photo will also cause rejection. If you see banding in the sky, or halo outlines around your main subjects, the frame is overly processed. This happens frequently trying to save a frame that has been overly cropped from the original. Fill the frame in-camera at the onset, and try to leave a small bit of room around the edges in case you need to adjust the tilt of the shot in post-processing. Shoot in RAW format for the best outcome with the most post-processing options. RAW format will also yield the larger file size the stock photo sites crave. At one site, you can't even upload a file under 4MB.

Using a tripod is always good advice, especially with landscapes and telephoto shots. Any blurring movements you can reduce using a tripod and higher shutter speeds will increase your acceptance chances. With people and animals, the eye(s) must be in PERFECT FOCUS.