We’re All Pat On The Back Worthy

Most days I see very talented people tweeting with glee that “Thank you ‘insert food porn site here’ for approving my picture!” However, on most days, I also see very talented people bemoaning through Twitter “Can you please tell me what’s wrong with the ‘insert reason for rejection’ in this picture!?!?”

I’ve felt both emotions of this very fine line. Although, truth be told, I have only felt the sting of rejection for the handful of pictures I’ve submitted since I last shared my honest feelings about the subject of food porn sites. I’m not into conspiracies, but for those that are, knock yourselves out.

What I took out of the comments that so many of you passionately wrote about was that it is a very subjective matter and while it’s understandable to be disappointed, it’s not worth the frustration. So in the meantime, individually, we must pat our own backs and remind ourselves that we are talented and more importantly, always looking to improve. Some random person who has nothing personally invested in you will not tell you how good you are nor really do they care. If you are honest with yourself, you will be your own worst (and helpful) critic.

I decided recently to have a look back at the very humble beginnings of my blog. About a year ago I wrote about Cabbage Soup. It was my 33rd post (needless to say, I was still very new to the food blog world) and I want to guess maybe averaging 20 hits a day (if that). It told a fun little story (I thought) and the accompanying picture I thought told its own story. A big pot of warming to the soul cabbage soup in the middle of winter. I enjoyed the steam caught in the picture to show it was hot and ready to be served. Even the messy wooden spoon was shown in the picture displaying that it had worked hard to stir what was a thick pot of cabbage, tomatoes and raisins.

Looking back at that picture, I still like it and maybe I could have played with the lighting or removed whatever happens to be poking through at the top left hand corner. But I know now it’s not a picture that would make someone say “Wow, I need to visit this blog again.”

The cabbage soup was made again recently, so I decided to see what I could do a year later and possibly wiser.

I know I still have work to do on many things, including lighting and dealing with shadows, if you look closely, you can see my reflection in the spoon. But, the pictures are cleaner and more aesthetically pleasing. However, to me at least, I feel as if I’ve misplaced part of the soul of the big pot picture. I’m sure I could accomplish that goal if I had the skill and knowledge of someone like Matt Armendariz of Matt Bites but he too had to go through these growing pains, right? Or maybe he was just born with it. So not to depress me too much, I’m going to say he learned how to be as good as he is and in the meantime, I’ll keep shooting and learning.

With all that said, I was very pleased with how my pictures came out and for that, I will pat myself on the back.

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19 Comments

Filed under Cabbage, photography

19 responses to “We’re All Pat On The Back Worthy

  1. Thank you for this. It’s good to keep in mind that even if our hard work is rejected by elite photography sites we are STILL good because of what we do. Basically what I get from your post is that we should not determine our worth in the food blogging world by our acceptance from these sites.

    I must admit I do love your photograph. The contrast between the soup and the tablecloth is spot on in my opinion and the soup looks pretty darn tasty too!

    I get frustrated because I am pretty good at cooking and even baking but I am NOT a gifted photographer by any means and when it comes to food styling I am horrible at it. I get to find my own little niche in the food world and proudly smile at my own work. πŸ™‚

  2. While the photographs do add an often vibrant visual to a post and are of course, a necessary element to a food blog, I doubt it is the reason why people visit your blog and return day after day.
    Keep shooting and learning! Your followers are enjoying the progress you are making but more so, the excellent content that you share along with the pictures.

    • Tastes Better With Friends

      Thanks Paula. I like to think that people visit me here because they enjoy a hopefully entertaining story:) good pictures are a bonus!

  3. A good post is about much more than just pics even though we’re getting more and more visually inclined.

    I often see my reflection in the spoon too. I’ll have to work on that πŸ™‚

  4. The times when I start to feel pretty crazy about photographing my food is when I look up and realize my husband and daughter can’t eat until I “get the shot.” I like taking the step-by-step process photos but that “cover shot” is so hard to capture.

    I really do believe you’ve come so far. Your eye is getting good at balancing the space and your color choice is fabulous – really love the blue placemate. How many pictures did you take before you selected this one? That’s always interesting to me too. I will take 6-10 shots on average of the finished dish/plate. Then I will delete 2-3 of those off the camera, load the rest on computer to look at them on a bigger screen. Two will usually get picked for cropping and adjustments and then narrow down to one.

    Can’t wait to see more of your learning process. I’m learning along with you!

  5. It’s amazing what we learn in just a short period of time. I look back on my earlier photos and can see so many places I can improve (heck I look on my current ones and say the same thing!).

    I love you tackling the topics of day-to-day food blogging thoughts/concerns/issues. The posts are so heartfelt and so easy to identify with, keep up the great work!

  6. Zoe

    I loved your post. I think it was Amanda over at Baking Without a Box who did something similar a while back. Even though we can be our own harshest critics sometimes, it’s always rewarding to look back at our work and feel a sense of accomplishment for how far we’ve come, regardless of how many times we have been rejected by . Thanks for sharing your story. And your photos really do look gorgeous πŸ™‚

  7. Zoe

    It was supposed say “regardless of how many times we have been rejected by (insert food porn site here) but it left it out. All that work trying to create the perfect blog comment wasted! *sob* πŸ˜€

  8. I love your honesty. To excel at anything takes practice. It takes skill to make certain foods appear appetizing. You definitely did it with that bowl. I especially like the placement of the spoon. I struggle between wanting to get a good photo and just wanting a realistic photo. I don’t care much for the glossy stylized versions of food photography that is so popular. It makes it difficult to picture making in my own home. When I can recreate a recipe based on the photos provided in a blog post I’m happy.

  9. Amy

    I love what Paula wrote. Ditto!! As for the photography…for as awful as we think our pictures are, someone else thinks theirs are worse. And for as great as we think our photos are, there’s someone else who has better. It’s a constant learning curve. I like to keep some of the older photos from when I first started – everyone has to start somewhere and it’s a good way to gauge our improvement. That is a fine looking picture, Ethan. But for the record, I’d eat some out of the bowl. And the pot πŸ˜€

  10. The very first photograph is DIVINE. SO good. Cookie – we all, literally, have moments of doubt. It is a human condition. The key to self improvement is simply: never stop. When you’re worn out from life and its trials – reach out to a friend. Chances are that friend or friends have been through what you’re going through too … at one time or another.

  11. As a new blogger I must say I feel the same way about almost all my blog has to offer; pictures and content. I feel like I can see improvements up to the point where I go and read other blogs. The photos and content I see are amazing (yours included) and I often wonder to myself, am I really going about all this the right way? Should I continue? Does anyone really read any of this? I’ve read that you need to follow and comment on a lot of blogs in order to improve my own, and I think this works. I have learned much from other bloggers, and comment all the time with little or no response. Poor me, right! LOL! I’m going to keep trying! Thanks for your inspiration- Paulie

  12. Jan

    I love, but also hate to look back on my first posts. I find it a little humbling. I think I also feel a twinge of embarrassment mixed in. It is nice to see the improvement though.
    Your blog is great. You definitely deserve a pat on the back πŸ™‚

  13. It is funny you wrote this, because I was JUST looking at my old posts. Admittedly, I shot my food for the first year WITH AN IPHONE. We’ve owned a DSLR since 2008, but I had been too intimidated to even touch it. My husband is a photographer, and quite frankly, he was too busy to take pictures of my food. It wasn’t until this past Christmas when he bought me a 50 mm lens that I even started using a real camera.
    My photography is average at best, and I’m okay with that. I don’t have huge ambitions there, and I’ve only submitted to a food porn site once. Watching others get worked up over them on Twitter has taught me it may be best for me to stay away from them for now.
    I’ve never really thought photography was that important for food blogging. I’m not a hugely visual person, so the pictures never make or break a post for me. However, since I realize they are important to so many I’ve tried to get better.
    Great post per usual πŸ™‚

  14. Agreed… Those are lovely shots of the soup! And, soup is always really difficult to photograph… At least for me. It’s amazing how much practice will really improve photographs… For some proof, just take a look at a few of mine circa early 2009 πŸ™‚

  15. Liz

    Excellent post…sometimes I fret way too much about my photos…and that’s not why I started to blog! It’s all about sharing good food πŸ™‚

    I have a question for you…do you mind e-mailing me at lizzy.do at gmail.com? Thanks!

  16. I’m sure I break every rule of food photography, but I really don’t care. My personal mantra has always been to keep it real. I don’t have fancy lights or backdrops. I have a back window that faces West and a little stool I put stuff on. Just about every picture is taken from there. If the lighting is bad, it’s bad. Living in Portland OR, that means it’s bad over half the year.

    Point is, many people judge the quality of a food blog by its photographs, which is basically judging a book by its cover or, dare I say it, being duped by the bells and whistles. I would rather have people visit and interact with me because they like the backstory or are in some way interested in the food. These are the reasons I visit your site.

  17. Well said. The truth is I’m guessing your readers come because they feel a connection to you and enjoy your stories and photos. One of the great things about blogging and photographing your life is that you can see your growth in all areas – it’s all about the process not the destination. I always say that about gardening, I could go out and hire someone to design my garden, purchase full grown plants and have someone do it all for me, but that’s not what it’s about. My garden may never look like one in a magazine, but that’s not why I garden. I’m guessing you don’t blog or cook just to have you photo on a certain site.

    Happy cooking/eating/photographing/growing!

  18. Ahhh. The sting of rejection from those food porn sites. I know it well, and have, on occasion, tweeted about how baffled I am when my images aren’t accepted – especially when the feedback doesn’t make sense.

    That said, I feel your dilemma is that food that is often styled is also often lacking in soul. I look at photos I put on my blog in the beginning versus photos now and I struggle with making it too composed vs too sloppy. How do you strike that balance? I’m constantly looking at food photographers that I admire – Penny de los Santos, Matt Armendariz, Todd & Dianne of White on Rice to find inspiration and aspiration. It’s the struggle, making food look good, compelling and dynamic without losing the soul of the food.

    Great post.

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