Tuesday, December 1, 2009

3 Reasons Tastespotting Rejected Your Photo

Food porn sites are one of the major traffic builders for food blogs yet sometimes their acceptance policy can seem a bit mysterious. These three tips should help you if you've ever had your images rejected. Many of my images get accepted, but many of my images also get rejected. I've attempted to crack the code, and these three reasons are what I've come up with. This is by no means official...I do not claim to speak for either site. But if you follow these tips I'm sure your chances of getting accepted will increase!

Reason #1 - Dull/Unsharp Image

This seems to be one of the most common reasons Tastespotting and Foodgawker reject images. One of the biggest mistakes people make when photographing food is getting too close to the plate of food!

Camera's have specific focal distances that cannot be exceeded. In other words, the camera must be a certain distance (usually 2-4 feet, depending on the camera and lens) away from the subject in order for the image to be properly focused. If you get in closer than your camera's focal distance allows, your image is likely to be out of focus. This is one the times that a consumer level Point and Shoot camera really can present problems over a prosumer DSLR.

Both sites also tend to favor images that contain large amounts of focus over images that have shallow focus and blurry backgrounds. Blurry backgrounds regularly get accepted, but it's better to be on the safe side.

Also, remember that your image actually shows up as a 2 1/2 inch image on screen...if most of your image is out of of focus, it might look fine at full size, but when it gets scaled down to 2 1/2 inches, it might just look out of focus because it significantly smaller.

Reason #2 - Unflattering Composition

Composition is also central to getting your image accepted. Most issues arise when bloggers submit images that don't really work in a square format. The image you submit should have a central point of interest, and it's usually best if the central point of interest is in the center. Remember, both Tastespotting and Foodgawker use a square format so keeping the central point of interest in the center will help your image pop.

TIP: Before submitting your image use a photo editing program to test your image out in a square format. Does it work as a square? If not, choose a different one!

Reason #3 - Lighting Issues - Harsh lighting

This is one is fairly straight forward. If the image is too dark it will most likely get rejected. Make sure you are shooting with plenty of natural light. If you cant shoot during the day, use daylight balanced light bulbs to shoot at night.

Many times images get rejected because of harsh light. This means that the light source was too strong and direct creating harsh highlights and deep shadows. To prevent this from happening, diffuse the light using a shear cloth, paper, or film. This will soften the light creating a more even lighting arrangement.

Do you have any tips on improving images for Tastespotting or Foodgawker? Has anyone re-shot an image and submitted it?


  1. Great post! I think you summed it up pretty well... People often ask me how I get so many photos published on the photo sites (although I still have my fair share of rejections, too). Next time I will send them over here to read this post! Avoiding the three issues you mentioned is a great place to start!

  2. A great post! I've had a more than one photo rejected by one as "dull and unsharp", but accepted by the other so I think some rejections are still somewhat subjective, but I agree with Jen that you have done well honing in on the basic reasons for rejection by these sites. I have submitted a few photos again after being rejected, but usually the photos were a little dark and all that was needed was a little tweaking.

  3. So helpful, we always think we're doing our best work when submitting to food porn sites. The rejection stings, but the EXPLANATIONS need more explanation. Thanks for this!

  4. Thanks everyone...I figured others would benefit from this information...anyone have other tips?

  5. TasteSpotting has helped me become a better photographer.

    I look back at the MANY images that were rejected in the past and think, "WELL OF COURSE THEY WERE REJECTED... THEY WERE CRAP" LOL!

  6. These all make a lot of sense... I think the one that kills me is "not enough info on blog post"

    I feel like saying... "really? I thought the amount of information I wrote was perfect!" BUT!

    I have to agree that Tastespotting has made me a better photographer... like seriously.

    Have a long ways to go, but at least I am traveling in the right direction!

    Thanks for taking the time to put this together!


  7. I think this post will help a lot of us who have had rejections with these remarks but can't figure out exactly what or how to change. I also want to mention that TasteStopping publishes the photos that TasteSpotting and FoodGawker reject. I'd like to invite your readers to swing by and have a look at a large cross section of photos in each of the three categories you've mentioned. It's nice to know you're not alone when your photo is turned down, and hopefully TasteStopping will encourage anyone who has been rejected to try again with the elite food porn sites.


  8. You can also try submitting to Refrigerator Soup - a very cool new photo site that's a bit more personal...


  9. Great post! I think the best piece of advice in addition to what you have mentioned is to not take it personally, but instead use the rejection to learn to take better photos. While most of my photos get accepted, I still get a fair number of rejections, and usually I know I could have done a better job with the shot in question.

    Their criteria for accepting or rejecting is entirely subjective and there is no reason for it to be otherwise. The sites belong to the people who do the deciding and they are human beings, so of course their choices are based on what they like at the moment they are looking at the photo that has been submitted.

    When you are shooting your food, take LOTS of photos, at different focal lengths and angles, as well as differing composition and lighting conditions. That way, you have more choices, and can even switch out the photos in your blog post if one gets rejected. Look at the photos that have been accepted and see what you can do to achieve a similar result. If you are willing to let it be, failure is a really good teacher. ;)