Check your image size. If necessary reduce dimension to no more than 1000x750 and see if that works. Do the image files open if directly double-clicked from the folder (i.e. outside of PRE)?
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Also, do these JPEGs come directly from a camera?
In addition to the size issue Neale brings up, Premiere Elements can only work with photos that use standard 24-bit (8-bits per channel) RGB or black & white. (If your photo is coming from a camera or Photoshop Elements, this will not be a problem. But some more advanced photo editors can save in CMYK and more advanced color modes.)
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Steve and Neale have covered almost all the bases. One last thing to check is whether the JPEG is progressive, or baseline. Many Web designers use the progressive JPEG's to get a rough image in front of the viewer quickly, and then the detail fills in a bit more slowly. You wan baseline optimized.