Food Bloggers Love Affair with Food Porn Sites

Is it love or is it hate?

I think it’s a little bit of both. We love them when our pictures get accepted and we hate them when our pictures get rejected. They can be your best friend or they can be your enemy. Or at least it feels that way.

I’ve been holding off a bit to write about this because I know this is a very touchy subject with food bloggers and I totally understand how each and every one of you feels about this. I’ve been through it all and I still go through it.

First of all I want to list a few food porn sites that I’m aware of, so that we all know what I’m talking about.

I’m sure I’m missing some, so please let me know and I’ll add them to the list.

How I Got Started with Food Porn Sites

I remember when I first discovered tastespotting. I didn’t really know about food porn sites, I was really new to blogging. But I remember seeing the tastespotting badge or the foodgawker badge on other food blogs, so one day I clicked on one. Well I soon realized what they were and I was intrigued. I wanted to submit my pictures and see what happened. Now keep in mind this is when I first started and I didn’t know anything about food photography. I was using my cheap point and shoot camera to take pictures of my food. So one day I created my account with tastespotting. And I submitted a picture. This picture to be exact.

I’m not joking. This was it, this size and yes with this terrible lighting. But I didn’t know anything about that. All I knew is that this cheese pie was to die for and it’s my favorite pastries of all time. So I submitted this and I had high hopes because I knew how delicious this pie was. Well that didn’t last long. A day or so later I got a very disappointing email from tastespotting, rejecting my picture because of composition and size. At first I was confused, I didn’t know what exactly they meant by composition, it’s a piece of cheese pie and it looks good to me. Then I was upset, and hurt. But then I decided to study the pictures on tastespotting and see what the difference between those pictures and my picture was.

And then I realized something. Those pictures looked like pictures from magazines. Mine looked like simply a home made cheese pie taken by a happy cook, proud of her dish. So I kind of gave up then for a little while. But as I kept on blogging and taking my mediocre, if you could even call them that, pictures. My husband got more interested in it as well and suggested we buy a DSLR camera. So we did, and we slowly learned about food photography and started taking pictures that were a bit better. One day I remembered about tastespotting and decided to try and submit another picture. It was June now so we had just had a barbecue. We made these huge avocado burgers and as usual I took my picture. And this is what came out.

Mind you it’s still not as perfect as it could have been and this picture is without any post processing on it. But it got accepted to tastespotting.

Oh my God!

I was so happy, I ran to find my husband in the back yard and yelled at the top of my lungs that my picture got accepted. If anyone would have seen me they would have thought I had won the lottery. But that’s how I felt, as if I had won the lottery.

Why Do We Love Food Porn Sites?

So why did getting my first picture accepted to tastespotting make me so happy. The answer is simple.

Backlinks and traffic.

We love the amount of traffic these websites can generate for us. We love the backlinks because we know backlinks help with google searches. That’s all there is to it. It is a means for our hard work to get promoted so that others can enjoy our blog.

Why Do We Hate Food Porn Sites?

Because we hate being rejected, especially when we are the only ones who know all the hard work and time spent on creating these dishes, only to be rejected by someone unknown to us. This hurts! It makes us mad. I know I’ve gotten mad every time one of my pictures got rejected. Especially when we think there are worse pictures that were previously accepted and ours got rejected. This is why I wanted to include the picture of meatballs at the top of this post, because this one got rejected by tastespotting because of composition and I know I have many other similar pictures that were accepted. This finally brings me to what I wanted to talk about in this post. What are the rejection reasons we get and what do they mean.

Composition

This is probably the only rejection reason I get from tastespotting: composition. It’s not a reason I get often from foodgawker, from them I get lighting issues, but I’ll cover that later.

So what is composition? This bothered me for the longest time, but according to wikipedia composition is the placement of visual elements or ingredients in a work of art or a photograph, as distinct from the subject of a work. It can also be thought of as the organization of the elements of art according to the principles of art. The term composition means “putting together” and can apply to any work of art.

Got it? Well I’ll tell you what composition means to me and it’s not any fancy photography terms like the Rule of Thirds. To me composition is how you arrange your food on your plate and how you arrange other elements around it. Well I’m not very good at this because I’m not an artistic person, not at all. I think my pictures are clean and simple. However I still get rejections every once in a while, but I’ve learned a few things.

If these sites reject my pictures because composition, well to me that simply means that they did not like my picture. Nothing I can do about that, it could simply be that the food was not appealing to them. Everyone has their own tastes. However I have tried submitting those pictures that were once rejected a few months later and they were accepted, so go figure. That’s why you should not get upset, it’s not worth it. Try again in a few months and see what happens. It is not the end of the world.

Along with composition, you might also see pictures rejected with composition too tight. This basically means the picture you took is too close to the food. What I recommend here is to step back a bit when you take the pictures, because you can always crop them later on during post processing.

Food/Photo Styling

This one goes hand in hand with composition. I will talk more about food styling later on, but for now just keep in mind that it basically means they did not like how you styled your food.

Lighting/Exposure issues

This rejection is another one that drives me crazy. The reason is because it doesn’t really tell me if it’s too dark, or too light, too much exposure or not enough. Sometimes they will say low lighting or under exposed, but not always. Lighting issues and exposure issues can be easily fixed and if you’ll follow this blog I will show you how to fix these issues. Many times my pictures have been rejected because of this and I was able to easily fix them and resubmit them. I do want to mention that this can greatly depend on your monitor and the settings on your monitor. For example my monitor is set so that it’s a bit brighter and the colors are more vibrant. However, when I go to work and look at some of my pictures on my monitors there, they look very dark. Anyway this is something that can easily be fixed.

Foodepix.com

This is going to sound like a shameless plug for foodepix.com but I’m going to do it regardless. The reason that I’m going to do it is because this site belongs to my husband and I. About a year ago we decided to create our own food porn site so we spent long hours and lots of hard work to make it happen. The reason was simple. We’ve had enough rejections and we thought it would be a great way to get more involved in the food blogging community. We were right. We now have way over 1000 subscribers and we have some really great and loyal food bloggers and we appreciate them a lot. My husband mostly runs the site now and when he rejects pictures he tries to give a little more explanation as to why the picture was rejected, so that bloggers can learn. We are still picky with pictures we accept and we like high quality pictures but we try to not reject pictures based on composition. I’ve always said to my husband that just because he doesn’t like a certain dish, that doesn’t mean it’s not appealing to others.

I hope this article has been helpful to some of you and I know the pain of having your pictures rejected just like many of you. I’d love to hear your thoughts on this.

Comments

  1. Thank you for this article, it is really helpful to know that others have been upset over being rejected as well. I am new to this whole blogging and food photography stuff and have been going through the rejections lately. So I could really relate! Thanks for the helpful tips.

  2. Oh boy, I could have written this myself!!!! Been there, done that, just like you.

    Once I got over feeling sorry for myself and like a total failure, I actually saw that Foodgawker was giving you a clue over what to do where they’d find the photo acceptable. I did a LOT of studying over what the terms meant–and their FAQs even help you a lot on this subject. Then I studied the pics these sites found acceptable, and did a little of my own experimenting plus investing in a better dSLR camera. If you could believe it, I originally took pics with my LG phone camera…yeah I even cringe at it now too…LOL

    So, my advice is much like yours–just keep plugging at it. Once you start getting acceptances, it gets easier to get accepted I’ve noticed. Oh, Tastespotting confounded me, and for a long time after my photos were generally accepted by Foodgawker. I went back to studying. I found Tastespotting prefers a more “artistic” approach to photos where Foodgawker more or less wants “up close and personal.”

    Just discovered your food porn site today, and I really like what I see. I wish you guys a lot of success with it.

    • Hi Judy,
      You’re absolutely right, each site has their own acceptance guidelines. Thanks for your input and thanks for signing up with foodepix. :)

  3. Your man is the one in charge of Foodepix submissions…it makes sense now…the recipes that got accepted were man-food Buffalo Wings and Crispy Fried Chicken. My girly Raspberry Muester Grilled Sandwich was rejected for FOOD/STYLING…FOOD I guess because it is too frou frou for a man’s taste…hehehehehe

    But thank you for your photo porn community…it feels warmer and personal here. I just wished though you add a way for us to know which photos were rejected. I submitted a few photos that don’t show on my gallery. I am not sure if they were rejected or I just didn’t submit them right.

    Thanks again for being a wonderful resource to foodbloggers.

    • Hi Lalaine,
      If your picture is rejected on foodepix, you will receive a rejection email with the rejection reason and the name of the picture that was rejected. If you’re not getting emails, make sure you check your spam folder, they might go in there. You will not receive emails though if your picture was accepted, or if you send multiple pictures for the same recipe, only one would be accepted.
      Sorry for the rejections, what can I say, maybe they were too frou frou for him. lol
      Anyway thanks for writing and I hope you’re finding all this useful. :)

  4. First of all, I want to say that I love your blog! Secondly, did not realize you were behind foodepix.com. That’s so cool! I have been submitting pictures to foodepix for awhile and I can tell that the site is really getting popular by the increase in traffic it drives to my blog. Keep up the great work!

  5. i love this post and this website!!
    i just started my food blog in september and started out taking iphone pix…i actually got a few accepted (shockingly enough!) i just got a dSLR for christmas and LOVE it!!
    another “food porn” site i love is healthyaperture.com …they are geared more towards health conscious foods.
    thanks for your site…it rocks!
    -dre @ deliciousbydre.com

    • Thanks Dre! I’ve never really tried healthyaperture.com but I’ll give it a try. I checked out your blog, it’s great, and your pictures are wonderful. Keep up the great work. :)

  6. Hi, I just wanted to thank you and your husband for really helping me improve my food photography with detailed advise and tips. And with your help and suggestions, I got my very first approvals on Foodepix! I still have a lot to learn about photography, and I can’t thank you enough for giving me some guidance on how to take better photos. I used to get real depressed when I would get rejections, but when I get rejections from Foodepix, I get a detailed explanation why it got rejected, and more importantly, how to improve it. And from then on, I see rejections not as a failure, but rather an opportunity to improve, and to learn. And thanks to you, I really feel I’ve learned quite a bit about food photography. A million thanks to you and your husband, and Foodepix!

    • Hey there,
      Thanks so much for you comment, it means a lot to me. This comment is making it really hard for my husband to ever reject your pictures again. :) Nice job!

  7. We experienced our first couple of rejections from foodgawker over the last week – can’t see we went in with high hopes during submission – there’s a lot of excellent quality photography on that site. Nonetheless, we’re still new and the blog is really beginning to take off; so we’ll keep honing our skills and I’m sure it’ll feel incredible seeing that ‘accepted’ email!

    Oh, and I almost forgot to mention – I submitted some images to FoodEpix a few hours ago; and just happened to stumble upon this blog now and saw you guys own it! Keep up the great work; it looks excellent!

  8. Aaisha says:

    I didn’t realize you were behind Foodepix! I just found it while looking for alternatives to Foodgawker and Tastespotting. Hah been getting rejected with no real reasons lately so I’m taking a break. Did you guys code the site yourselves or hire someone? I’m in IT too (SQL DBA) so it’s always fun to find IT folks in the food blogger world for me :)

    • Hi Aaisha,
      A lot of it is “coded” by us, or the better word would be modified. I agree, you don’t often find IT food bloggers. :)

  9. Check out http://www.pantreze.com .Our goal is to bring together a community of passionate food lovers who are looking for a place to discover new recipes. In addition to the potential discovery of new recipes, Pantreze also allows you to save your own original recipes. Unlike other sites, we won’t reject any submissions as long as they are food and recipe related.

  10. I definitely know the feeling of getting rejected from all these sites. I am just starting out, and well, we’ll just say I need a lot of work. It is inspirational to see how far you have come from submitting your first picture to that delicious looking burger! I will keep trying…I’m sure when my first picture gets accepted I will act like I just won the lottery too!

    Thanks for the descriptions. It really helps to know the reasons my pictures got declined and how to improve!

    • You’re welcome Christine, don’t get frustrated, just remember it’s not personal, although it feels like it is. :)

  11. Very generous of you to share all the this info. It’s all very fascinating. I’m a wanna be food blogger but wouldn’t know where to start. So for now, I’ll just keep admiring your blog and visiting Foodepix, Keep up the good work.

  12. Superb article on the food porn sites! It’s great your site gives some input on why a photo is rejected. It should be a learning experience and just to say lighting issues or composition doesn’t really explain what was actually the specific reason for rejection. I’ve just found your foodieportal! Great food porn site, too! Thanks for all the blogger tips!

  13. This was really helpful, I’m going to start applying it to my blog since I plan on getting into food photography.

    Cheers!

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