Monday, August 16, 2010

Tastespotting: Dishing on the Rejection

Me, not at my finest.

Hi friends. I've had something brewing for a while. A frustration that is driving me dangerously close to insanity. It's called "Tastespotting Rejection".

Thousands of Foodies struggle every year with this complication. It's due to hard work and pride over your photography being rejected over and over again by the review board over at

Some of you maybe asking, what is Tastespotting? Its a site where you can submit your photographs (or other's, but who wants to do that?) of all your luscious food photography, that you feel is your best. You send it in and wait. Wait for days...until you get an email that tells you nothing (maybe mine never says anything because I haven't made it yet) and you click the link to go to your profile. Under your profile you can see how many posts you have up. My obviously still says "0" and I'm starting to feel a twinge of bitterness. I don't even know what to tell what happens if you do get in.

I've sent in 16 photos. Fourteen have been rejected. Two are still waiting to be reviewed. Now, just you wait, I will post this and then get in. That wasn't my plan, but it just might work. (mechanical laughter, wringing of hands)

I feel like what I've sent is had been really good. I mean, I will say, my photos don't have the "bokeh" (cool fuzzy focus in the background), but I feel that they are as good as a lot of the photos that get on there. They will shoot down one of my photos, saying that they don't usually use photos of just ingredients, then I look at the page and see 2 or 3 on there of just ingredients. Or they don't like hands in the pictures and there is a photo up right now with someone holding a sandwich in their hand. wah,wah. These are the particular photos I am referring to. That was the only complaint on these photos, so I'm assuming the lighting and sharpness were good. So frustrating!

I know, we all think we have the best pictures. Ours rock and should be in a gallery. There is always room for improvement, but I feel like this Tastespotting is feeding my issues with perfectionism...the very thing my therapist urges me not to give into. It does however, make you rethink your stuff, find ways to make it better or be more creative, but without trying too hard. That's tricky.

One of my most difficult obstacles is time. For me, the food I photograph is the food we eat for dinner. It's going to the table of hungry, crabby kids and hubby in 2.5 seconds. So much of the time, I'm rushing. Rushing to get that perfect shot. It can look good on the LCD but much of the time when I view it on my computer I see it was out of focus or just plain bad. So for every 20 shots, I may get 3 I really like. Since the time issue probably won't change a new SLR would help considerably.

this wasn't sharp or bright enough.

So, this rejection has lit a photo fire under me. The hubs is looking to put it out (not really), because now I'm begging him for a SLR. Oh boy. He quietly nods his head as I ramble on and on about features, photos I could take and all the pros and none of the cons of owning a SLR (preferably Canon and I mean, are there really any cons?) Hint dropping seems to be falling on plugged ears. That's okay, I'm not giving up. On Tastespotting or the camera.

This was rejected for "composition". Can someone help me with that? I'm assuming it's how you put a picture together. How else do you compose chocolate cake and ganache?

My point and shoot is great for what it is. It takes great photos...for a P&S (Canon Powershot). I mean, if you put it on Macro setting and use natural light, it does a pretty darn good job. The problem for me, is that I'm stuck with that. I can't do much more. I don't have the ability to manually fiddle with the lens. So I dream up ideas, then I can't make them happen because I am handicapped by this very reliable, but not very creative camera.

Is it stupid for me to want to get on Tastespotting so bad? I mean, I feel like it's the Mercedes of food photos and I want to be on there! I know I've got what it takes. I think my photos are good. I do see though, on some of the photos their reasons for not choosing me (I mean, at least they tell you WHY, so that's good). I said some. Others I don't get it. But on some where it was lighting, or not sharp enough, I agree and I've set out to work very hard on those things to make better photos. I want to excel in this, not stay stagnant. I want to grow.

not sharp.

If you made it to this paragraph, I commend you. True Foodie Friend. Who else should I whine to other than my trusty Foodie Friends. Certainly you have endured the agony of Tastespotting. If not, why not try? Doesn't it sound so fun?

This is what I want to know. If you've submitted, have you been shot down? If not, what's your secret to getting on? Wait, that sounded dumb. It's called having good pictures. But anyways, if you have tips, ideas, camera you love etc. Please do share. Let me know I am not alone in this quest for Tastespotting acceptance.


  1. Hi beautiful! I just want to give you a big hug right now... because I know exactly how you feel. I should say that I've had enough accepted (5 out of 21 submissions), that I keep submitting. But it's frustrating that they take FOREVER to respond. Maybe they need to hire a few more folks. I don't know... but know that there are others out there who feel the same way.

  2. it can be really difficult for some of the sites - and they seem to just give out strange reasons why. I don't sumbit my pictures as much as I should but I have done ok recently when I have done great on photograzing and ok on foodgawker (never tried tastespotting)
    I usually don't have luck when I am rushing to get dinner on the table - I find that spending some time after dinner playing with it - trying different plates and accessories works best (and that portion ends up becoming my lunch!)
    also I think that unless you have a DSLR and a lot of flashes/ lenses its hard to compete with the other photographers... but not sure if you want to invest $10-20,000 and as much time as you do cooking to learn how to use them just to get on some site

  3. I love this post. We all feel for you. But here is the plain truth: The FoodBullies and TasteHaters have very limited about photography. I would bet neither one of them have any art background. This leads them to have a very particular styles. A style that is in my opinion a bit outdated. As you noted they do like the limited depth of field trick pony quite a lot. But if you look at the best food magazines right now (like Cucina Italiana) you will see that style has gone out of fashion for the most part.

    All that said, believe it or not (from their pov) having a limited scope of photographic styles is a very good thing. They are building a "brand" just as we are. So they are looking for photos that support that brand in some way. Their brand will morph and change, but slowly. Why should they mess with succes? I wouldn't!

    I have had about 300 accepted photos(which is about 75%). But I had to sell out a bit to achieve that ratio, because they prefer pictures that don't really say anything, or have an editorial story to tell. They strictly want "photos of food". They don't like texture or color in the lighting. They prefer computerized perfection to artistic voice.

    I like the traffic these sites bring so I play along with their tastes and besides I want to play in this game. It's fun! Afterall it's just a blog, right. I can save my more artistic shots for my own enjoyment.

    Lastly, it's true FoodGawker especially rewards expensive cameras, but it's not mandatory. I use a 100 dollar point and shoot camera. You just have to learn to shoot within its capabilities. GREG

  4. Oh screw em. I stopped submitting long ago. There is another site that posts all rejected pictures from TasteSpotting. It is called Taste Stopping. I think they are hysterical with their captions of the rejected photo and much more fun than the "Precious" Taste Spotting.

    You go girl! We love you anyhow.

  5. Hi Lauren,
    Love your site and you do incredible work with your point and shoot. I'm a contributing editor for a site that gets thousands of hits a day and we used to get shot down all the time. I think my editor just stopped submitting. As for the SLR, it is a beautiful thing and if your hubby doesn't want to shell out the big bucks for something brand spanking new. Check out B&H photo they sell refurbished ones from the manufactuer that go for half price. That's how I got mine.

  6. LOL, great post! I like everyone's comments! I agree with Greg, and don't change your style just to get on an over rated photo site. I got cought up in it too but after putting in so much love and time only to be rejected, or worse, not hear anything I decided it wasn't worht the hassle. I never made it on tastespotting and only about 1/2 of my pics are on Foodgawker, which btw is exactly as Greg says. I noticed also that all of the photos on that site look EXACTLY the same! I have a message I'm trying to get out through my photos, as I'm sure you are too. So I shoot only for me and my readers.

    Oh, a fun picture editing site that I adore ( I use it for most of my food pics) is
    You can do a lot with the free membership. I pay the $29 a year for a unlimited membership and it makes me happy with my final shots. Unless your going to get paid for your pics, spending thousands on a camera prob isn't worht it. Mine is a nicer point & shoot ( Canon PowerShot G10 ) and I'm happy with it. Again, lighting is my biggest struggle with food photography which is why I use Picnik.
    Good Luck!!

    One last thing!!! ;-)
    I love your blog and your photography which is why I follow you and check in often! The sites with the "professional' looking photography are fun to look at sometimes, but I enjoy reading and referring to real people I can relate to.

  7. I wish I can be more of a help but not sure what to say here except keep trying and don't give up. Sorry this is frustrating you.

  8. Hi there. I have a decent hit rate at TS and PG, a little worse @ FG. From what I can tell, they tend to like clean, bright, extremely sharp pictures with small aperture (bokeh not such a big deal). It has to look appetizing as a thumbnail. They seem to like overhead shots. There are obviously exceptions, but if I were to give advice for a "safe" photo for them, that's what I'd say.

    I do know people who have gotten pictures accepted with P&S cameras, but it's significantly more challenging, in my opinion. Do yourself a favor and get an SLR. Good optics are not expensive (< $100 for a 50mm/f1.8) and they will make your pictures, on average, immeasurably better. The total acceptance rate, as of a couple years ago (which I know is forever), is about 50%. I have to believe you will get something in eventually.

    Shoot in daylight/window light. I avoid shooting at night because glare from overhead light (even when indirect) kills me. Don't use flash unless you are a pro.

    Tastespotting and Foodgawker are pretty serious drivers of traffic, so there are reasons beyond mere curiosity for you to do it.

    Hope this helps, and hang in there!


  9. Well I'm glad someone has finally come out and said it. lol. Amen sista! I am new to this whole photography/food blogging thing... but it is SO frustrating. For me foodgawker is much harder to please than tastespotting, which isn't to say that they are in any way easy to please. And the two of them never agree. One will say composition/not sharp/color balance/terrible picture/just kill yourself now/you are not a worthwhile human being (you know whatever, lol), and the other will immediately accept it, or vice versa. There is no rhyme or reason. And while I have about twenty pics on tastespotting and only five on foodgawker you can trust that in order to get that many I have drowned in many a rejection email. For me it is all about the resizing to fit their 250x250 requirement. The magic is sometimes lost in the cropping. (Though realistically I know nothing about photography or computers so in reality I am most probably just doing everything wrong.) When it comes down to it, one would think/hope/imagine that there would be intrinsically amazing photos. But there are not. (Nearly every photo I have that has made the foodbuzz top 9, for example, has been rejected by both TS and FG) It is one hundred percent subjective. But you can't let it get you down, or have it send you on a murderous rampage. For me it is just about acceptance. With my point and shoot on its macro setting close ups are really all I know how to do well. Which is fine. I am happy with how my pictures typically come out. But they do not like close up shots on TS or FG. Period. They do not like shots cropped tight in on any food object. They want space/distance/background. Luckily photograzing will accept anything. I have never had a rejection from them. But you're right. It's just not the same. Thanks for being the whistle blower on this unavoidable foodie predicament. Let us know when they finally DO come to their senses and accept one of your great pics =)


    PS: Thanks Janis! Taste stopping is genius! I will have to dig out my crate full of rejections.

  10. I guess I don't really have an opinion, since I've never submitted to any of those sites, since I already know I'd be rejected, so why bother? Besides, I know most of my photos are crap, although they've somewhat improved now that I got myself a slightly better P&S camera (Nikon Coolpix
    S3000). And decent photo-editing software. Even still, I'm working on the goal of someday just getting one of my pics on the Foodbuzz Top 9! And even that's slow-going.

  11. WOW, once again all you and all the commenters make me feel normal again! I had been getting more and more aggravated at the TS and PG. I have gotten 3-4 photos out of 10 submitted with stupid feedback like "not in focus" and "composition", what does that mean!? Well, you are not alone to say the least!

  12. Hey Lauren - I can relate. I've gotten one accepted at Tastespotting and none at Foodgawker. Your photos are so wonderful that I've got to believe the selection committee is just too out of it to realize it. Until you said you only have a point and shoot I'd have sworn you had an SLR. Maybe we need a foodbuzz bloggers/featured publishers site??? It does drive traffic which is why I keep trying... You'll get there.

  13. glad I found your post since all afternoon I have been wallowing in the self loathing created by yet another FG rejection today! I have had two pics accepted at each FG and TS, and I can't seem to figure them out! I try to tell myself it shouldn't matter, that I think my photographs have improved and that's what's important, but it's still a huge kick to the ego every time I get rejected. I know I have a lot to learn so I am really trying to study the pictures from others that so get accepted.

    I have only been at this for a few months but I try to resize my pictures closer to their 250x250 requirement (I do 480x320 because it works best for my blog format) and that seems to have eliminated the problems with "unsharp/dull/out of focus". I also never use my in camera flash, always work near a window with natural light, and set up a white foam board opposite the door/window to reflect the light, and this has helped quite a bit.

    I also now study pictures of whatever I am going to bake (prior to baking it) of the same subject on those sites to help me get ideas for composition.

    The main thing are definitely not alone. Try uploading to photograzing, savorysights, and for baked goods dessertstalking. Most of my pictures are accepted there so I don't feel like a complete failure. The traffic you'll get is not as good but every little bit helps.

    Good luck!

  14. this will just make you better dahhhling.....and you are already so incredibly gifted and talented, I can only imagine what this will push you to do.....keep growing...stretching...learning....u totally rock my world bella

  15. I feel your pain. I have felt the rejection oh so many times. It's those darn composition ones that always get me. I personally thought they looked alright- an outdoorsy pic, but apparently the Tastespotting gods disagree. lol. It makes me so frustrated and yet, I always submit at least one pic. At least I got one in! Great post by the way!

  16. I only have time to obsess about one thing at a time, but I keep going back to photography. I hope to at least make myself satisfied one day :)I can't seem to fix the yellowing of some of my photos. Grrr.

  17. Oh thank God, I really thought I might be the only one. I recently launched my own blog and started submitting to FG and TS, most of my photos have been rejected. Okay, some for valid reasons, I agree with them, but others it just drives me nuts. Thank you for the rant, I cannot stop smiling after reading your post as well as the comments. I feel soooo much better now that it's NOT JUST ME!!!! :)

    FYI, your photos are gorgeous

  18. Hi Lauren! This is Katie Boyer Newell. My parents ran into your parents recently and they started talking about our similar blogs! I am so sad that I am not part of project food blog (for personal reasons, I cannot become a featured publisher b/c of their advertisers), but I am so excited for you! I can't wait to reconnect with you in the food blogging world. I will definately be voting for you! Best of luck! Oh yeah...

  19. You wanna feel better about your photography? Go check out my blog : ) I think your photos are amazing.

  20. Oh I so agree about their old-fashioned approach to food photography. I guess FG or TS would never accept any of Bon Appetit photos due to "exposure/lighting issues" :D

  21. I came here by googling about food gawker and tastepotting rejection. Lot of my pictures are rejected. I am learning and I submit only those which, I think are good. But then only one picture was published on tastespotting and one on foodgawker. The one that was published on tastepotting got rejected on foodgawker and vice versa. I think it depends on who is the moderator. He/She might not like my blog or whatever the reason is. They give the reason of composition and when you look at their gallery, there are tons of pictures which are showcased the same way. I am frustrated, but will try to learn more.

  22. I totally understand you! I have had 4/11 pictures accepted by tspotting and I was so sure that some of those that were rejected would actually be accepted! One of my posts about tomatoes and eggs was rejected for food composition (I get that reason A LOT), and when I checked for another picture for the same recipe on their website, it was accepted and personally, i think mine was just as good, if not better! I mean, what else do you expect in tomatoes and eggs? I totally understand your frustration for the chocolate cake. Anw, keep trying and don't give up on the SLR! And most important of all, keep having fun in what you are doing: cooking and blogging! :)

  23. I've just recently started submitting to Tastespotting, and I got shut down on my first photograph too (because of "lighting and composition"). Up until this week I used a point and shoot too, but I just bought myself a semi-professional camera- the Olympus SP-800UZ; it retails for under 400$. I just submitted two more photos into Tastespotting today and I am crossing my fingers. Hopefully we'll both get there someday.

  24. Got rejected- again! For "composition" this time. How ridiculous is that?

  25. Sorry to hear that Jamie. Such a bummer. If it makes you feel any better I got rejected by TS and FG the other day. It's okay. I'm not so hung up on it anymore. I just am excited when I do get in. A week ago TS took 3 of my photos just like that! So you never know. Keep trying, but only if you want to boost your viewers, otherwise, don't sweat it. Good luck! thanks for stopping by and letting me know your update.

  26. It looks like you've got a whole long list of people who know "exactly how you feel". I am another such person. I have this theory that it depends on who's doing the reviews that day, because one day they will accept one of my pictures, and the next they will reject one that has the same lighting, composition, focus & give me some bull comment on it. What bothers me more is I often find people with identical composition who have been published & their pictures are worse!
    What all this rejection undoubtedly leads to is a feeling of failure within your own work & you begin to doubt your skills as a photographer. Don't!
    I say get back on, keep plugging at it, and just try to use it as a way to improve. Also, submit your photos to (they tend to be a little kinder) & (very kind).
    You have excellent pictures & they should be shared!

  27. I cant totally appreciate your sentiments. Its a tad frustrating.


Thanks for stopping by Foodie House! If you have any questions, feel free to leave them here or email me. I appreciate your support and LOVE hearing from my readers!

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...