👋Annie here from the Community team, hello!
I’m in a rather unique position using Unsplash. Not only do I contribute weekly, but also I’m part of the Unsplash Editorial Team. Since I joined the team at the start of 2016 I’ve completely changed the way that I use Unsplash as a photographer now that I understand the process from both sides.
In this article I’m going to be sharing what I’ve discovered and giving advice and insight for photographers submitting to Unsplash to give the best chance of exposure, being featured socially and giving your photos the best chance of being discoverable and curated in our homepage Editorial Feed. The homepage Editorial Feed is the feed of handpicked, beautiful new photos and updates daily.
One of the great things about sharing your photography on Unsplash is that it’s easy. There’s no algorithms or optimum scheduling to try to master, no need to comment on photos and follow others to build your own visibility — it’s simply about the photography. The content speaks for itself, and the content is evergreen.
But if you are one of those people who likes to optimize everything, this article shares some easy things that you can do to make the most of your Unsplash profile.
Optimize your profile
As a photographer, your Unsplash profile is not only a sign of your generosity to the creative community but a portfolio. With that in mind, it’s savvy to optimise it to best suit your individual needs.
Add a url — You can only choose one so make it count. Where do you want people to click through to? Your website? Your online store? Blog? Portfolio? Instagram profile? A page where people can donate to support your work?
Add contact details — You profile supports messages by default (you can enable or disable this at https://unsplash.com/account when logged in to your account).
You can also add your email address or social tags to your profile, if you would like people to be able to reach you.
Freelancer? Available to hire? Have an epic print store? Tell people! — Add that in your profile. We’ve heard from photographers who have received paid work as a direct result of their Unsplash profile.
Understanding our submissions process and how we feature photos
Familiarising yourself with our submission guidelines will help you understand what will and won’t be accepted (and may save you time!)
At we receive thousands of photo submissions daily. Every photo submitted is given one of 4 states:
Unevaluated — This is the first state that all photos automatically receive upon submission. Unevaluated is a temporary state, given to a photo until it’s been assessed. A photo maybe unevaluated for anywhere between 24–36 hours, and on occasions where we experience exceptionally high volume of submissions this may be longer.
Flagged — This is an automatic state. Photos that do not meet our guidelines will be removed and an email will be sent out to explain why.
Searchable — This is a manual state, how searchable a photo is determined by how the community interacts with the image along with a confidence score (you can read more about that below).
Promoted — This is a manual state. Our Editorial Team features a selection of their choice of best quality photos on Unsplash to highlight to the Unsplash Community. These photos will be discoverable and also highlighted in our homepage Editorial Feed.
If your photo is featured on the homepage you’ll receive an email notification, unless you have opted out of ‘Milestones & Notification’ emails in your account’s Email Settings.
What we’re changing!
We know that search must rely on a minimum quality and utility threshold, as experiments have repeatedly validated that our community doesn’t want to search through thousands of mixed quality results each time they search.
To address this we’ll be splitting search results into two sections: a high confidence section and a less confident section.
In the less confident section, we’ll include results that have a lower relevancy score. This will translate into photos that might match the search query or are less used (indicating that they may not be as high quality). By default, the results will only show the high confidence section. For searchers who want to see all results, they’ll be able to click a button or toggle to show the lower confidence results.
Photos that outperform their expected use for their relative position in the results will increase their relevancy and move out of the ‘less confident’ section. This is very similar to the process used to rank results in other search systems (like Google and Pinterest), as it’s possible to predict the mathematical relationship between the position in a search list and the expected engagement.
Please note: Because of the high volume of photo submissions, we are unable to give feedback on individual photos. However, we have an active Slack community with a #feedback channel where you can ask for feedback from the wider Unsplash community if you wish. You can join this community at chat.unsplash.com.
Frequency of submissions
Initially, when you open an Unsplash account you are limited to uploading a maximum of 10 photos, every 10 days, however unlimited photos can be unlocked for special contributors.
One questions that we are often asked is ‘When’s the best time to submit my photo?’
Any time is a good time.
Photos are usually assessed for curation and discoverability by the Editorial Team within 24 hours, however this time may be slightly longer if there’s a higher than average number of submissions.
It doesn’t matter how many photos you submit at one time. For example, if you choose to share a set of 8 portrait shots in one go, all beautiful, high quality images, this doesn’t mean that only one or two are likely to be curated. In cases where a set of curation-worthy photos are shared at once, we may choose to drip feed these into the curated Editorial Feed over a few days. This assures the feed remains diverse and your exposure is spread over time. 💪
The sky’s the limit when it comes to the subject of a photo that can be submitted to Unsplash (literally in some cases).
Currently there are thousands of photos submitted daily and the standard levels are high. People use Unsplash to source high quality photography, and one of the things that keeps people coming back, time and time again, is that they know that they can discover beautiful and creative photography of a high standard.
NB: Best avoided: selfies, people ‘holding the sun’ 😖
There are three common reasons why photos aren’t selected to be promoted — and the good news is they can all be avoided. 👍
- Spotting. This is by far the most common reason a photo won’t make it to being promoted. Small spots of dust, dirt or water marks that were on the lens at the time the photo was taken. These are often most noticeable in large areas of blank color, such as sky. These can be removed in post-processing using the heal or clone tools in Lightroom, Photoshop or your preferred photos editing app.
- Wonky horizons. Distinctive horizons that aren’t level. This can be remedied using the straighten tool in Lightroom, Photoshop or your preferred photos editing app.
- The photo could benefit from cropping. Check for objects in the photo that distract the viewer, if there’s a guy in the corner of the photo bending over showing some butt crack, it’s best cropped out. 🍑🙈