Thursday, July 26, 2012

Getting to Yes on Foodgawker and Tastespotting (My Six-Month Journey, Plus Tips)



If you’ve heard that getting your photos on Foodgawker or Tastespotting is guaranteed to boost your food blog traffic, it’s true. Depending on the image and subject, your page views resulting directly from a single pic posted on either of these sites can top 300 to 400 or more daily for several days. Plus, these sites archive everything posted, so traffic continues to trickle in over time. (One tidbit I’ve learned: A tasty shot of a popular item like blueberry muffins  or raspberry cobbler will land you more hits than even a very arresting pic of a more esoteric recipe, such as the lavender syrup pic or the strawberry-rhubarb sorbet  both shown on the left below.)

The gotcha, which you probably already know, is that both of these so-called “food porn” sites are notoriously picky and quirky. Don’t even think about submitting unless your masterpiece satisfies these minimal criteria: attractively prepared and presented food; the image in sharp (but not unnatural) focus; exposure neither overly dark or light; and the pic cropped attractively into a square 72 dpi format.

 About 6 months ago, I decided to make a concerted effort to break in to Foodgawker and Tastespotting. I’d taken some very general “how-to photograph food” sessions at culinary conferences, so I knew that most experts recommend shooting food in natural light.

And over the years, I’d picked up a few food styling tips watching stylists I’d worked with. I was also armed with the basic photo-editing skills of cropping, sizing, and slightly enhancing images using the Adobe Elements 8 software.

That said, I was bracing for some rejections, because, in my heart of hearts, I knew my photography “lacked.” Still, the string of no’s and negative reviewer comments ranging from, underexposed, overexposed, dull/unsharp, over-processed, flat, harsh lighting, composition too tight, and the biggie, “poor composition,” was even longer and more deflating than I’d expected.

When the first yes finally came (after about a month of regularly trying), I was as excited as if my latest cookbook had just made the bestseller list! Well almost!

 To get right to the grim nitty-gritty stats, I had to submit about ten pics to both Foodgawker and Tastespotting before my first one was published. In each case, my initial “winner,” (the raspberry cobbler at right was one) was rejected by the other site. This is one reason I strongly recommend submitting to both at once: It’s proof (not to mention a salve to the ego) that the selection process is highly subjective—that one photo reviewer’s “good enough” is another’s “garbage,” that beauty really is in the eye of the beholder! (A Foodgawker ad for an entry-level photo editor/reviewer recently listed starting pay as $15 an hour, another reminder that judgments aren’t necessarily infallible assessments of mighty photo gods!)

Interestingly, although the two sites often seem to like and dislike different shots, statistically, they’ve been equally picky. Gradually, as I’ve learned and adapted, the rate of acceptance has risen, and on both sites one out of every two or three of my submissions now passes muster. (And I’m hoping for even better numbers in the future.) But I still haven’t cracked the code on which site will like what. If you have, please comment here and fill me in!

While criticism is never easy to take, the bits of feedback these sites always provide when rejecting photos are a key reason my success rate has gone up and my photography is getting noticeably better. The comments have helped me correct many basic exposure/lighting/processing problems in just a few months. That said, these two often don’t agree on even technical issues: The raspberry cobbler shot was summarily bounced by Foodgawker for harsh lighting and composition, but was promptly posted by Tastespotting. And the hot fudge sundae pic at left was run by Foodgawker yet rejected by Tastespotting for exactly the same reasons!  One image that both apparently liked was the lavender buttercream-filled macarons below.

Today, my submissions tend to be rejected for “composition issues," doubtless the most subjective and complex of all aspects evaluated. Sometimes I take the criticism to heart, but other times, especially when the photo has been accepted at the competing site and I really like it, I’ve gained enough confidence in my own judgment to just chalk it up to reviewers’ differing personal tastes.  A version of the pic of the strawberry-rhubarb sorbet below was submitted to both sites today, and  both rejected it.  I resubmitted the version below and Foodgawker is running it, but Tastespotting objected to the composition. I remain convinced that it's a beautiful shot and really like the composition.


 Was investing the considerable amount of time and the constant eating of humble pie required to get to yes with Foodgawker and Tastespotting worth it? Absolutely! Besides the benefit of increased site traffic, I know I’m shooting and posting better photos on my blog. It’s extremely gratifying to finally be able to take pics that really do my recipes justice, as well as simply to possess the ability to personally create truly pleasing images.

 Should you decide to take on the challenge yourself, here are a few tips that have helped me:

>Always respond positively to the feedback from photo critiques and remind yourself that nobody is deliberately picking on you! Yes, reviewers are wrong sometimes, but if you keep hearing the same criticisms over and over, accept that they’re preventing your work from being published and address the problems. I'm told by Chuck at Foodgawker that they have different morning, evening and weekend editors, so unless you always submit at the same time on week days, be assured that more than one person is critiquing your work.  At Tastespotting, in contrast, a single person makes all the final decisions; this is a good thing to keep in mind.



>Plan to devote at least a number of hours (8 to 10 or more if possible) a week to shooting and re-shooting, photo-editing and re-editing, and submitting and occasionally resubmitting based on criticisms received. Not only can a lot be learned over time through trial and error, but what’s learned will soon show in improved images. (My pics are so much better these days that just this weekend a relative asked me if somebody else was now taking my photos!) And persevering by making changes and resubmitting once or twice instead of falling into a funk can sometimes turn a no into a yes.

>As two of my foodie colleagues, Nancy Buchanan and Susie Kuack point out, for these particular sites, composing vertical or square shots tend to work better than horizontal because ultimately images must be cropped to a square and submitted in a 300 by 300 pixel (or similar) format. And as Nancy advises, take shots both close in and farther out so you have the flexibility to submit close-up and broader view images if you’re told that your photo is cropped too tight or too wide.


>Understand that “food porn” sites are looking for more than just command of the technical aspects of photography. Even professionals are bounced if their food looks like mud or is crudely presented, because visitors to these sites come to be enticed by beautiful and seductive, not average-looking, fare. Simply slapping a piece of cake down on a dingy plate smeared with icing and cluttered with globs and crumbs will sink you, so develop  some food styling expertise and obtain at least a minimum set of props (dishes, napkins, silverware, and such).  Take a course; look closely how the food is presented in appealing photos; read some food styling how-to books. Here are two good books by Delores Custer and Denise Vivaldo, two of the many stylists whose work I greatly admire. And start building a prop collection. If budget is an issue, shop yard sales, secondhand shops, etc., and stick mostly with white and light-colored dishware, which is most versatile and also shows off food particularly well.

 >Start getting a feel for what photo reviewers mean by good composition. Composition refers to how the total space is used and IMHO is the hardest aspect to grasp and even begin to master. As a starting point, realize that you actually have to compose your shots! Just plopping a round bowl or plate of food  in the center of the square pic usually isn't sufficient; something more visually exciting (but not distracting) has to be going on. Both sites ran the maple custard pie pic (right) and raspberry ice cream pic (above), which, as you can see, add interest to the round in the center though the use of colorful, strategically placed linens and cutlery. In the raspberry buttercream topped cookie shot below not only do linens add interest by echoing the frosting swirl, but the dark color of the tea in the cup helps balance the intense raspberry hue of the frosting.

 The topic is enormously complicated though, because so many elements, from line, color, mass, form, texture and white space, come into play. I’ve learned most of what I now know simply by looking at hundreds of pics on Foodgawker and Tastespotting and carefully analyzing why certain images are visually appealing. And, or course, practicing, helps me learn what  works and what doesn't. I’m guessing that this approach will work for you, too.

>Use at least a reasonably good dslr camera; a cheap model designed for taking snapshots of the kids won't do. I started with a Nikon D40, then upgraded to a secondhand Nikon D200. I immediately noticed that the images looked better, plus the larger viewer allowed me to frame and preview pics more easily (thus helping me improve compositions). (I'm sure other brands of comparable quality would serve equally well.) Pros suggest using a tripod and shooting tethered so you can preview images on a full computer screen, but I usually don't bother. They also suggest shooting "raw," meaning you have larger images with more information so you have more options when working with/fixing the pics using photo-editing software. I always shoot raw.

So now you see, step by step, one way it can be done. Getting to yes with Foodgawker and Tastespotting isn’t a matter of magic, luck, or who you know. It may not even require an innate sense of design or artistic talent or training, though these doubtless help a lot. If your pics are already regularly or even occasionally being posted on these sites, please do share any insights and suggestions. I’d love to hear your personal story and approach.

Oh yes! And feel free to post your comments about any images presented here. My skin has gotten thick and I can take it!

69 comments:

Anonymous said...

What a well written article. Even after following you for some time, I had no idea so much was involved. Maybe in future posts I will recognize some of my own props!

Nancy Baggett on July 26, 2012 at 8:59 PM said...

Glad you enjoyed the story. Yes, shooting food is pretty complicated, and figuring out what these sites are looking for, and then delivering it really was a "journey." (A very gratifying one, though.)

Joyce Pinson on July 26, 2012 at 9:20 PM said...

Nancy, Thanks for this. I have no idea how bloggers find time to do 8-10 hours of photoshooting. Between growing a garden, canning, writing column and blog, plus PR work and composing a book proposal...honestly I do not have time to work so hard to take a photo...then have it rejected time and time again. I envy your determination and time management skills!

Rebecca York on July 26, 2012 at 10:08 PM said...

Your work is paying off because your food photography is gorgeous. I'm really impressed.

Willa Blair on July 26, 2012 at 10:44 PM said...

Beautiful, Nancy! Your success is well deserved.

Nancy Baggett on July 26, 2012 at 11:39 PM said...

Rebecca and Willa, thanks so much. Joyce, I understand your reaction. It was extremely difficult to find the time necessary. I was motivated mostly because I really wanted to be able to take pics that I felt did justice to my recipes. The ongoing feedback, plus concentrated practice helped me get there.

Toby Devens on July 27, 2012 at 12:49 AM said...

Years ago, I edited food magazines for Harcourt in New York. Our contributing writers had nothing to do with the photographs. Usually. they weren't even present at the shoots. Stylists plated, photographers lit and composed elements, the editor monitored continuity. Today food writers have to do everything to land on these blogs! It's quite amazing how you've mastered all the arts and crafts that produce a stunning package. I am so impressed, Nancy. And your post is a fascinating look at all the work involved behind the scenes.

Greg Patent on July 27, 2012 at 12:56 PM said...

Well, Nancy, you've clearly hit the big time and could easily (?!) shoot the pics for your own books. And get the photographer's fee! Great, informative post.

Nancy Baggett on July 27, 2012 at 1:04 PM said...

Grag,honestly I still have lots to learn. When I start getting all of my pics accepted I'll feel I've arrived. But for now, just being halfway there is gratifying!

robin on July 27, 2012 at 1:11 PM said...

Nancy, your dedication and talents are amazing. You deserve all the traffic you get and more.

Nancy Baggett on July 27, 2012 at 1:20 PM said...

Robin your words are so generous --I'm touched. Thanks for taking time to comment.

Chuck | foodgawker on July 27, 2012 at 1:35 PM said...

Just a correction, the starting rate for a new editor is $15 per hour. There's also bonuses throughout the year and other perks/compensation. Additionally, there are pay raises as editors prove themselves and stay long term with us.

We have always recommended that you shoot and develop your photography style for your on audience. 95% of photos can work in a square format, if you take the the time to manually compose/crop the image to 250x250 px before submitting. Adjusting exposure, brightness and sharpness when necessary can definitely help.

At the end of the day, as you stated it's a subjective process performed by humans. If you can get three people in a room and review 350 submissions and come up with the exact same 120 photos to publish, we would hire those three people right away! This process is repeated two times a day (once on Saturdays), 365 days a year!

Nancy on July 27, 2012 at 2:05 PM said...

Hi Nancy!! I can remember when I first started, I had that same feeling of elation when a photo was accepted! It's fun for me to look back through my blog and see how far my photography has come.
One of the best things about this community is the willingness of so many people to share their own experience and what they have learned with others - thank you so much for such an informative and helpful post!!

Nancy Baggett on July 27, 2012 at 2:11 PM said...

Chuck, thanks for the correction --which I have already made in the story. Hopefully I made it clear in my post that I have greatly benefited from the critiques of your photo editors. One thing I've wondered about is whether editors randomly look at whatever is submitted or am I likely to be getting feedback from the same one every time? Just curious about this...

Elizabeth Ashtree on July 27, 2012 at 4:01 PM said...

All your photos are so lovely. And that maple custard pie looks very yummy! I want to eat all those fruit deserts right now.

Pam Rauber on July 27, 2012 at 6:04 PM said...

So glad to read this. You are right on with everything you've said here. I've been photographing food for two years now and glad to say I am now 50% acceptance by both.
I was checking every time I submitted for acceptance and I would re-submit if I could correct the image. Now...I've gotten to where I check my stats on my blog. If I see a spike then I know the photo was accepted. I submit with every blog entry and let happen...happen. It is all in the eyes of the beholder. Sometimes I just shake my head at some of the photos accepted.
Thanks for posting. Your photography is great.

Chuck | foodgawker on July 27, 2012 at 8:06 PM said...

Hi Nancy, we have a morning, an evening and a weekend editor. So you'll get different editors depending on what time of day you submit. They review submission on a FIFO submission basis.

Nancy Baggett on July 28, 2012 at 10:25 AM said...

Hi again, Chuck, thanks for the info. I think readers would be interested, so I'm going to insert it into the story.

Candy on July 29, 2012 at 9:58 AM said...

Thanks for such a helpful post! I've struggled with photographing my food and am always trying to improve. I've only submitted a few photos to these sites, all rejected, and would like to try again so this information will be very helpful.

Your photos are lovely!

Nancy Baggett on July 29, 2012 at 10:49 AM said...

Candy, thanks, so much. I do know where you are coming from. I had been taking pics of my food for my site a long time, but was only seeing very small improvements over several years. Really studying and analyzing what these sites considered good and learning from their feedback allowed me to gain expertise rapidly. (Though I'm not sure I'll really ever fully "get" composition!)

domenicacooks on July 30, 2012 at 8:09 PM said...

What a fantastic post, Nancy. So helpful. I've never submitted anything to either site but have been curious as to how it all works. I admire your perseverance! Well done, my friend.

Nancy Baggett on July 31, 2012 at 9:03 AM said...

Domenica, you may want to think about submitting--I assumed you were already. I must admit I enjoy discovering which ones they like--kind of a game to see what will "win" and "lose" and for what reasons.

Ilan @ IronWhisk.com on July 31, 2012 at 11:46 PM said...

Helpful!
Thanks a bunch.

Nancy Baggett on August 1, 2012 at 10:30 AM said...

Ilan, good luck on all your future endeavors--college, life, food photography--whatever!

AmyRuth on August 1, 2012 at 3:00 PM said...

Dear Lady with thick skin. you amuse me. However, I couldn't help but think that maybe those silly photo editors work in poor lighting themselves. Sometimes humor is the best defense You are both perceptive and wise to do the work and persevere. Clearly your rewards are bountiful and you will continue on this path. So.... I am so thankful to have found your blog and that you are so generously and eloquently sharing your experience and wisdom. So much to do and learn about this journey. If you or any of your readers have good and strong experiences with web designers I would love to learn of them. Thank you again for the fun. Love it
AmyRuth

Nancy Baggett on August 1, 2012 at 6:05 PM said...

Any Ruth, glad to hear that this info seems useful. Also, many thanks for your comments about my books and blog on your site. Don't really have any tips/info on web designers or designing.

Jamie on August 2, 2012 at 5:22 AM said...

First, Nancy, I have to say that each of your photos you fit into this post are beautiful! My experience with TS and FG are similar to yours and mixed. Since I started using my new camera, which takes sharper images and I have more control over, more of my photos have been accepted to both. I do seem to have always had better "luck" with FG than TS. My biggest personal gripe (and the problem many other bloggers complain about) with both sites is, okay I accept that they may think my photo is too tight or not sharp or isn't styled well (the infamous and inexplicable "compostion") but when I have an image rejected for this reason and then go to the home page and look over those photos by other bloggers who have been accepted and see images dark blurry, badly cropped, or just as tight and close up as mine or the same compostition as mine well, that's when I wonder if the decisions are more personal than that, if there isn't some kind of favoritism going on - basically if an editor is accepting or rejecting some images based on who the blogger is. I actually emailed both FG and TS asking for an explanation and got none. On one of the two sites it is noticeable as well that certain bloggers seem to get preferential placement treatment - certain bloggers' photos seem to more often than others be placed on the home page and left there for a full day or two while friends of mine often complain that their photos, when accepted, end up getting shuffled back to the fourth page within minutes or a bit more. This isn't meant to sound like sour grapes, as I said since I changed cameras and took more control over my images I get more photos accepted, what I mean to say is that selecting photos by editors is very personal and subjective and even when one seems to follow the rules, well the rules sometimes don't seem to apply. Acceptance or rejection sometimes feels totally arbitrary.

Nancy Baggett on August 2, 2012 at 10:05 AM said...

Wow, Jamie, your comments are fascinating and thought-provoking. I would be the last person to ever argue that celebrity is not a huge factor in getting pics posted on these sites. Celebrity is just such an overriding factor today that if the White House dog submitted a pic he'd styled they would likely run it! Ditto even ho-hum shots by top food photographers because the sites probably (rightly) feel that running such work boosts their status. So, of course, the playing field is not level.

As for why certain unattractive pics (IMHO)run,I usually chalk it up to "art director mentality;" the tendency to go for something strikingly different or cutting edge, even if the food looks unappealing or the shot is poorly lighted or focused. The other issue is always personal taste--one man's prune aspic really is another man's garbage!

CJ - Food Stories on August 18, 2012 at 12:16 PM said...

Excellent article with great tips ... Thx :)

Nancy Baggett on August 18, 2012 at 1:35 PM said...

thanks Casey, the process certainly worked for me. After going back now with a new understanding and eye, I'm even able to improve shots that I previously cropped or photo-processed wrong. And, as I said, I know the pics taken with my newly developed expertise are much better.

The Healthy Epicurean on September 29, 2012 at 2:24 PM said...

Thank you for some great tips...

Sarah on October 2, 2012 at 4:32 AM said...

Interesting post. I started my blog two days ago and posted a picture to both foodgawker and tastespotting. At foodgawker it was accepted. Tastespotting had the "composition" feedback.
As someone else mentioned earlier: it's not cool to find pictures that have been accepted with a similar composition.

I already thought on giving up on tastespotting as it wasn't the first time that I read they were rather tricky to submit to but after reading this and you saying it truly depends on foodgawker as well, I'll just give it another try.

Caroline on November 20, 2012 at 11:02 AM said...

Just had my first after 11 submissions published today on foodgawker. I'd almost given up! Love your article and fantastic advise. I'd sent this article to my kindle to keep...great reference! Thanks so much!

Nancy Baggett on November 20, 2012 at 10:40 PM said...

Congrats! And I bet you learned a lot that can help you continue to take better and better pics. So glad to get your feedback. Share this story with anybody else you think might be interested, too.

Creole Contessa on November 26, 2012 at 1:41 AM said...

Thank you for your help. I have been blogging for 10 days and after 9 denials, I read your post and reworked how I take pictures and foodgawker just accepted my first picture.

Nancy Baggett on November 26, 2012 at 9:18 AM said...

That's great news! The approach of really heeding their feedback works--and pretty fast in your case. Ten days is rather remarkable.

Creole Contessa on November 26, 2012 at 4:04 PM said...

It happened again, this time TasteSpotting accepted a picture from this. This was a picture previously rejected but I adjusted the color and yes they did accept it. I am so excited. Thank You again.

Nancy Baggett on January 9, 2013 at 6:39 PM said...

Yes, I've found that paying attention to the criticisms and trying to respond to them really can work. Keep up the good work!

DanaS on January 26, 2013 at 1:56 AM said...

I am wondering about how you recommend I get to the 250x250 pixel submission format. Do you put a picture of that size in your blog post on purpose? Can I put a larger photo on my blog, and then crop the same photo in my photo editor and submit the cropped photo? Or do you ever use the cropping tool on the fg/ts website? Thanks for your help and all the great tips.

Nancy Baggett on January 26, 2013 at 11:11 AM said...

I don't always put the 250 by 250 pic on my blog. Often I'll crop the pic to a larger square, say 500 by 500 square first, do the post processing with photoshop, then reduce it to the 250 pixel size to submit to food porn sites. Another approach--I work on an image in a fairly large vertical or horizontal format to use on the blog, then crop it down to nearly square. It's possible to arbitrarily alter a pic that is say, 267 by 250, by disabling the "keep proportions" feature and then make it 250 by 250. The slight distortion is not noticeable to the eye.

DanaS on January 26, 2013 at 1:08 PM said...

Thank you for the tips!

Olena @ iFOODreal on February 15, 2013 at 5:36 PM said...

Nancy, amazing-amazing article! Couldn't agree more! I go through the same experience every day. Great tips! My professional graphic designer husband is amazed sometimes at what gets accepted and not.:) And says it depends on who is reviewing at that time.:)

Nancy Baggett on February 15, 2013 at 6:34 PM said...

I'm getting a little better at predicting what will fly and what won't. I'm even beginning to get a feel for which images which site might like. Still learning so much about all the topics I mentioned, actually. Glad you liked the post.

Stacy | Wicked Good Kitchen on February 19, 2013 at 11:08 AM said...

Nancy, thank you so much! I'm so glad you tweeted the link to your food photography tips recently. Started reading this post last Friday evening, but then went out and got busy over the weekend. Saw your tweet to me and I raced back here to finish my "homework". You are so right on all points made--especially taking the time to examine just why a given photo was rejected. Look at the photo and try to see same. From there, the "ah ha!" moments happen. Then, once you submit a photo that was accepted, there's hopefully another "ah ha" moment and suddenly a keen eye is developed and a new skillset emerges. Cannot wait to get my new DSLR! The Big Lug ordered one for me for V-Day. Yay! I think I will keep him, LOL! Thanks again, Nancy, for being such a tremendous resource and leader within the food world. Your warmth and kindness has meant the world to me. xo

Nancy Baggett on February 19, 2013 at 5:01 PM said...

Stacy, many thanks for your kind words. Also, it is exciting to hear that what I suggest can work for someone else. Really I do look at pics--my own and other peeps'-- completely differently now. My new "seeing" skills help me to arrange, compose, and style the shots better, then also post-process much more effectively than before. It really is as if I'm now looking through somebody else's eyes-pretty amazing. Good luck with your new camera!

Sandra on February 22, 2013 at 1:09 PM said...

Nancy,

You're photos are so beautiful that you should be getting them accepted everywhere! You have a great eye for detail and color and I enjoy both your blog posts and gorgeous photography. I can't wait what you come up with next! You're such an inspiration.

Nancy Baggett on February 22, 2013 at 3:57 PM said...

Wow, Sandra, I am so thrilled to hear you say that you like the pics. I REALLY wanted to be able to do appealing ones, but found that it was quite challenging at first. Since I wrote this story, my acceptance rate has indeed gone up a lot. Now, when I do get rejected it's because I shot in light that I knew wasn't right. (There is only so much that can be fixed in post processing.) Thanks sooo much for your feedback.

melissa@mywholefoodlife on February 22, 2013 at 9:16 PM said...

This is a great post. I have had 14 accepted and 45 rejected from FG. TS has accepted 10. Often times, when one doesn't accept a photo the other will. I have seen the insane number of views that these sites can generate. Sweet dishes seem to do the best. I had one recipt give me 1200 hits in a day from FG. I find that FG goes for the almost over exposed shots where TS likes the more dramatic overhead shots. But, who knows really? I feel like all the rejection has made my skin a lot thicker. :)

Anonymous said...

This is a great article. My first few years of food blogging I had a handful of photos accepted for both of these sites, but many many many more rejected. I thought there was a secret "formula" that one needed, but really the solution is simple. If you want more photos accepted, take better pictures. That takes time, effort, energy, and dedication.

Although recently I have been quite frustrated with TS. The site has been really slow to get photos out of the "pending" folder. At this point I've had one sitting for over a week, and two more waiting for several days. Plus, the site owner's photos seem to sit in the #1 position more often than not, which I think is pretty shady. 1 person running a site like that can be difficult, and I can see how back-logs happen, but purposely leaving your own blog post up there? Not cool, IMO.

I foresee my photos sitting for even longer and probably being rejected after this as well, because I have not been silent and only singing the praises of the site owner.

Nancy Baggett on February 26, 2013 at 1:07 PM said...

Melissa, I'd be curious to know what the sweets recipe was that was such a huge draw. I've had great luck with a brownie recipe and lavender buttercream macarons, but a fab banana-bundt cake with chocolate satin glaze only did so-so. And a big draw was a brown rice and lentil soup. Go figure!

Nancy Baggett on February 26, 2013 at 1:58 PM said...

Anonymous, thanks for your very wise insights and commentary. I know nothing of whose photos are left up and showcased longer--except to say that they haven't been mine! It does seem that the TS review process takes a little longer, but it also seems to me that it's always been that way. If I think a shot is time-sensitive, I just that the into account and submit it a couple days earlier. I could not agree more that the way to get more pics selected is to spend the time to learn how to take better pics. Hopefully this post provides details of how to do that.

Margaret aka: Fact Woman on March 8, 2013 at 11:33 PM said...

I do find if funny when a shot is turned down by one site and accepted by the other. It really boils down to the person reviewing and what mood they're in! Thanks for all of the helpful info in this article.

Jessica McCoy on March 18, 2013 at 1:54 PM said...

Thank you for this article! I've just started submitting to Food Gawker and have had both of my photos rejected so far. Going to have to work on my styling. ;) So far the images have been 'too tight'. (sigh)

Guess I have some homework!

Jessica @ http://allshecooks.com

Nancy Baggett on March 18, 2013 at 2:40 PM said...

I was overjoyed when I first got accepted. I really do suggest you submit to both FG and TS at once--as they don't always like the same shots. When I finally broke it--about ten submissions to each site, one had rejected what the other accepted. Yes, styling, composing, proper lighting and composing are all important. Good
luck .

Abbe on March 25, 2013 at 11:57 AM said...

What a fab and positive article about the *Food Porn* sites. I submit to both on a regular basis and like you, felt that their critique helped me to improve my photos. I'm not quite *there* yet, but my little point and shoot camera is doing an adequate enough job that both sites occasionally accept my photographs - though hardly ever at the same time!!!! I've had in the region of 40 rejections from Foodgawker and maybe 9 accepted - and yet with Tastespotting I've had maybe 30 or more acceptances. Ah well, which ever way the wind blows!!!

Carole on April 25, 2013 at 9:02 PM said...

Hi, this is a great post. I wondered if you would like to link it in to the new Food on Friday which is running right now over at Carole's Chatter. We are collecting recipes using rhubarb. This is the link . I hope you pop over to check it out. There are some great recipes already linked in.

Mihai @ World in a Cupcake on June 7, 2013 at 8:02 AM said...

This is a great story :D... It's exactly what I felt when I started submitting photos to food gallery websites.

Since then I started my own such website and I wish to invite you to share some of your work. Just pass by World in a Cupcake and see if you like the idea.

I'd really love to see your images on our website and to hear your thoughts about the project.

Karen Schmautz on June 12, 2013 at 1:03 PM said...

This is such a good article! I've got about a 50/50 acceptance record and I was starting to feel like I will never get better. Your article was very encouraging. It is my understanding that TS is in the process of hiring one or more people to review the pictures. Maybe that will speed up the process. Your photography is beautiful!

Nancy Baggett on June 15, 2013 at 11:29 AM said...

Karen, thanks for your comments. I think 50 % acceptance is very good. I think I'm about that now also. Sometimes I now submit several diff shots or one I'm not sure is right just to see what they will do and be better informed on their tastes. I continue to find that what gets nixed by one site gets approved by the other and I'm beginning to understand their unique tastes a bit more.

Jayson Catedral on June 17, 2013 at 5:43 AM said...

Hi! I find TasteSpotting has higher chance of approving my food photo compared with Foodgawker, though Foodgawker really attracts higher readers compared with FoodTasting. I have 8 approved photo from FoodTasting compared with 4 approved photo from Foodgawker.

Nancy Baggett on June 17, 2013 at 11:25 AM said...

Jayson, I think your greater success on one site rather than the other simply indicates that your style appeals more to the editors doing the selecting. I'm now learning to predict which perfectly nice shots that get published by one will be bounced by the other. It really is true that what's defined as a "good" pic depends on who is choosing...

Susan Knaap on June 29, 2013 at 4:08 PM said...

Great article. I too have been submitting photos which have been declined and has felt very personally disheartening. However, the comments have just made me more determined to get it right and just yesterday I got my first photo accepted by Foodgawker. I don't even have a DSLR - I have a high end point and shoot, so it is possible to get a good shot without the expensive camera. I may not get any accepteds for a while again but now I've proven to myself that it's at least possible!

Nancy Baggett on June 29, 2013 at 4:33 PM said...

Fortitude is very important. Just this week I have submitted a pic a number of times and received criticisms including: composition too tight, image dull, unsharp, image overprocessed/oversharpened, image grainy, etc., Normally, resubmitting leads to an acceptance, but this amount of rejection is discouraging to say the least. Just keep on working at it--your biggest reward will be the ability to take really flattering pics of your food!

gatheringsteam on September 3, 2013 at 12:11 PM said...

Nancy - What a great article and a perfectly timed read for me as I receive my third rejection from Foodgawker! I'll keep on trying!

Nancy Baggett on August 24, 2014 at 2:32 PM said...

Hope you start getting accepted soon. Just keep looking at what they DO publish with an analytical eye, then looking at what you shoot with an analytical eye. And you WILL get better!

I know that I am now a lot better at seeing how to compose, crop, and edit. I can even see why some shots I submitted earlier on were nixed--that's def progress!

Jessica Helgeson on August 24, 2014 at 10:53 PM said...

Has anyone found a particular time of day that you get the most traffic to your accepted submission. Every time mine gets accepted it seems to be around 11:30 pm and then it hardly gets traffic to it.

Nancy Baggett on August 24, 2014 at 11:05 PM said...

I don't think there is any way to time when they will post--if they post at all. FG does seem to post/reject within 12-16 hours, so you could try at night if you want it to appear during the day. (Though I don't know that day is really better.) I have found that things with wider appeal get more views--that is brownies generate more traffic than nasturtium salad. Pics that look "friendlier" seem to get more traffic also.

Kate @ Babaganosh.org on September 21, 2014 at 11:51 PM said...

This is such a helpful article! I've submitted a lot of pictures all of which were rejected, and I didn't know I even had the option of tweaking the pictures and re-submitting!

Your pictures look amazing, and I will continue trying to learn to take pictures of the same quality.

Thanks for this post.

Nancy Baggett on October 1, 2014 at 11:01 AM said...

Thanks, Kate, appreciate your compliments. In cases where I'm told a shot is under or over-exposed, I generally fix that aspect and then re-submit. I also put "redo" on the pic id, so they get that it has been (hopefully) fixed. Sometimes this works, but sometimes they just really didn't like the shot and find some other criticism! Still, IMO any comments provide useful insights and help me get better.

 

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