This week, I received both “a pat on the back” and “a slap in the face” for the same job. Confused? Please read on…
If you’re a food blogger or simply just a lover of great looking food, you know (or should know) about the sites TasteSpotting (TS) and FoodGawker (FG). They are sites that offer glimpses of exceptionally amazing looking food. In a nutshell, TS and FG gather their material when food bloggers submit their photos for “approval”. In turn, the pictures (with a link back to their blog) are posted on TS and FG and viewed by those searching online for some “food porn”. It’s really a brilliant idea for a site, since people tend to “eat with their eyes” before digging in with their fork.
It sounds like a win-win for everyone, doesn’t it? TS and FG get “free” content for their sites. This content allows them to drive traffic to their site which in turn allows them to make money selling ad space on their site. As for the food bloggers, they gain additional traffic and exposure that they normally wouldn’t get through their own blog.
Now, remember, I said the whole process was based on submissions and approvals by TS and FG. I’m a food blogger because I enjoy food, eating, cooking and writing. As for photographing it all, I like taking pictures, but an amateur photographer would be insulted if he/she were to hear me call myself an amateur photographer.
For a couple of months now, I’ve been submitting my pictures to TS and FG and they have been getting rejected. Needless to say, it is disappointing. Like all bloggers, I try to put all of myself in each post and then to have a photo rejected based on “composition” or “lighting” is just frustrating especially when I don’t claim to be a photographer. But I tried to take it in stride since I figured they must know what they’re talking about since they both rejected me, albeit usually for different reasons.
So, how did I get a pat on the back and a slap in the face this week? Well, because this photo of my Mississippi Mud Cookies was accepted by TS (yay!) and rejected by FG due to “photo/food composition” (huh?). Needless to say, I was pretty happy to have something accepted, but my happiness was quickly dulled by the confusion of the same picture getting rejected. I had always had a sneaking suspicion that it was a subjective process, but this confirmed it for me.
And if I wasn’t sure yet, I got another simultaneous pat and slap the next day when FG accepted my Potato & Leek Soup (yay again!) but TS rejected it due to “composition/not sharp”. To me, those seem like two completely unrelated issues. So not only was my picture accepted by one, but now the same picture is not good enough for two reasons?
I guess my point (if there is one) is I don’t mind getting my photos rejected. As I wrote, I’d been living it for a few months now. I definitely have been putting more thought into my pictures as I read other blogs and I guess my approvals this week is proof of that. I also know that some pictures of mine are better than others. When my food, plating, set-up, lighting, etc., align for me on a given day, I’m capable of something decent.
However, if sites such as TasteSpotting and FoodGawker are all about growing their brand, I would suggest they need to be more cognizant of their impact and critiques. I appreciate they likely receive hundreds, if not thousands of submissions a day, but I also appreciate that they are in it to make money. To reject a photo based on something as generic as “composition” does not help the blogger get better. It simply leaves them confused and frustrated. With slightly more guidance, TS and FG can actually further their cause and build relationships by offering a constructive critique thereby making their site potentially even more food-gasmic down the road as food bloggers learn along the way and submit even better picture which is a win-win for everyone involved.
I appreciate what TS and FG does and I think they provide an excellent platform for myself and other bloggers, this is simply my take on my recent experiences. I would welcome others to share how they feel about this topic.