Ask a Blogger Question #3 – Popular Food Photography Sites

Today’s “Ask a Blogger” question comes from Erica over at piExperiment. Erica has a question about submitting photos to some of the more popular food photography sites, like Foodgawker and Tastespotting.

“When I edit my photos on my personal computer they look one way, but not the same when I upload them onto foodie photo sites and look at them from other computers.
What is going wrong? My best guess is the display color setting I am using, but I am not sure which one I should use.
I have been working so hard to improve my photography, and this has become my major obstacle recently.”

Erica, I can tell you one thing. Getting your photos approved or rejected at certain food photography sites is a hot topic among many bloggers. In fact, I spoke with 3 different (very talented food photography) bloggers on the phone today and the topic of conversation turned to this very subject on all three phone calls! Each and every day Twitter is full of tweets about one of these sites rejecting their photo. So, in saying this, you are not alone.

Great food photography is a very big part of what makes a food blog go beyond just good to great. Appetizing photos entice your readers to keep coming back and to try the recipes you post about. Plus, we all know that when a photo gets accepted to one of the more popular food photography sites, traffic to your blog tends to increase exponentially. Without knowing what kind of camera you use, what kind of computer you have, etc. it is going to be difficult for me to answer your question, but I’m sure one of the smart experienced bloggers will come to the rescue with some tips!

In the meantime, hopefully other food photographers / bloggers will stop by and share their best food photography tip. One that stuck in my head from when I attended BlogHer Food ’09 and the session by Matt Armendariz was to imagine what size your photo is going to be as you are taking the picture. So, if your goal is to have your picture look good in a 2×2 square, then when you are setting up your photo, make sure you take your photo so that it will be well positioned in a 2×2 square. If there is a certain size photo you use for your blog posts, do the same thing. Make sure that your props and photo are well contained within that specific size you use on your blog. Keep the end result in mind.

Hopefully we’ll have some answers for you, Erica. Readers – if any of you have Ask a Blogger questions you want answered by some experienced bloggers, send me an email to kristen <at>

Now, for your recipe loving pleasure, here is a unique and oh so good bread recipe.

Shredded Wheat Bread (from my Mother-in-Law)

  • 2 cups boiling water
  • 1 cup crushed Shredded Wheat cereal
  • 1/2 cup molasses
  • 2 tablespoons shortening
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 package (1/4 ounce) active dry yeast
  • 1/4 cup warm water (110° to 115°)
  • 5-1/2 to 6-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • Melted butter, optional
  • In a large bowl, pour boiling water over cereal. Add the molasses, shortening and salt. Let stand until mixture cools to 110°-115°, stirring occasionally.
  • In a bowl, dissolve yeast in warm water. Add cereal mixture and 3 cups flour. Beat until smooth. Stir in enough remaining flour to form a soft dough (dough will be sticky).
  • Turn onto a floured surface; knead until smooth and elastic, about 6-8 minutes. Place in a greased bowl, turning once to grease top. Cover and let rise in a warm place until doubled, about 1 hour.
  • Punch dough down. Turn onto a lightly floured surface; divide in half. Shape into loaves. Place in two greased 9-in. x 5-in. loaf pans. Cover and let rise until doubled, about 1 hour.
  • Bake at 375° for 30-35 minutes or until golden brown. Remove from pans to wire racks. Brush with melted butter if desired. Cool. Yield: 2 loaves (16 slices each).

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  1. says

    I’ve actually noticed that a lot of the time color looks lighter and brighter on macs than on PCs — so if you’re editing on a mac and the photo looks fine, it might still look dark or dull on other computers. There are websites where you can check color settings, but in general, I usually think it’s better to err on the side of lighter than darker.
    .-= Katy´s last blog ..bad girl ice cream =-.

  2. says

    Just today I had the same photo accepted by one and rejected by the other. It can be frustrating but keep on truckin’.

    A few tips?
    – Keep it simple, less is best.
    – Unless you know how to use off camera flash, lighting, etc., use the best natural light you can get without having to use on camera flash. On camera flash almost always look yucky with food. So don’t use it. Like never. Ever. Never ever.
    .-= Amy from She Wears Many Hats´s last blog ..On the dark side. =-.

  3. says

    i recently went through the same issue when i discovered those 2 sites less than a month ago. if the problem is that your photos look dull and washed out, then hopefully you have photoshop. instead of just saving the photo you should “save for web and devices”. this should help your posted photos more closely resemble the way they looked before you uploaded them.
    .-= sarah´s last blog, look at me now! =-.

  4. says

    Just a not to Erica on the photos looking different on other computers…I was having a similar problem but through Different Browsers.

    My photos looked perfect colourwise on my photo album but as soon as uploaded them to my WordPress blog though Firefox they looked whitewashed, pale, nothing like the real thing.

    This puzzled me and my fiancé who’s the one in charge of the techy stuff. What we discovered eventually was if I uploaded the photos through Safari I received the much better colour resolution in the photos and that’s what I do now, just use Safari.

    I experimented by posting same photo through Firefox and through Safari and you could clearly see the colour difference. Now if I look at my posted photos through the two browsers you can see through Safari the colour is more vibrant..but I have no control over that.

    The colour of the photos through Safari is not perfect but I think you just have to accept this.

    Other point I’ve noticed both my fiancé and I have macs but he has a much older (the little 13″ or 15″ books can’t remember which is the small one)
    Now we notice how my photos even looking through the same browser say Safari the photo on my mac will look brighter and better than on his mac, his look duller….so again there’s something about the screen of the computer you’re looking at…and that’s nothing you can do..

    A third point if….I upload my photos already properly sized down in photoshop the photo colour is much better Than if I try and use WordPress loading page to downsize it for me…again the colour suffers and is whitewashed.

    I hope this info is of interest…


  5. says

    Erica needs to give us more information about what kind of camera and software he uses for his photographs. My bet is that the color settings in photoshop need to be change. Usually photoshop saves the images to be printed, and that alters the colors when you save the file as a jpg. Kristen or Erica can contact me if you need more information about this. :)

    And don’t even get me started with Tastespotting! LOL

    That bread looks amazing, btw.
    .-= Ben´s last blog ..Poblano Lasagna Rolls =-.

  6. says

    Thanks for the info. I know which ones you talking about. Initially when I got rejected 6 times straight, I vented it on twitter and one of them had quite a heated discussion with me. Anyway, all good now. I kept trying and on the 7th try, finally 1 photo and it just got easier after that. I think persistent and also when cropping, make sure remember square format.
    .-= penny aka jeroxie´s last blog ..Cookbook Challenge W22 (Red) – Roast beef with Fleurie Wine =-.

  7. says

    Being rejected from the food photography sites can be quite frustrating, I know, I’ve been there! But what I try to remember now is that my photos are being looked at by people and not a computer program that analyzes the perfect colors, exposure, etc. It’s very subjective, like art. One person can love a photo and another can reject it. Hit or miss, I guess. Also, I agree with Amy of She Wears Many Hats, less is best. Try to keep your pics simple, and all about the food. Sometimes props and decorations can make the photos look busy and unappealing. But again, it is a question of taste.

    And also about taste, I would love to taste a slice of that bread, Kristen! What a great way to use Shredded Wheat!
    .-= LyB´s last blog ..When in Doubt, use Maple Syrup (Maple Sesame Salmon Fillets) =-.

  8. says

    Learning how to take good pictures is definitely one of the keys to writing a successful blog…and also the thing that took me longest to do! (Although my picture could definitely use some improvement.) I think the most important tips I learned were that flash is a HUGE no-no. Natural light is the BEST (even if it means I have to cook dinner at noon, but whatever). And macro is KEY.
    .-= Joanne´s last blog ..Roasted Plantain and Peanut Butter Sandwich on (Butter)Milk and Agave Bread =-.

  9. says

    Great post, Kristen! One element that people often overlook is the color space, which should be sRGB for most things appearing on the web. It never hurts to color-calibrate your monitor, too.

    Joanne – I don’t think flash is a no-no at all; I use it all of the time when taking food photographs. The key is to not use direct flash but rather to bounce it off ceilings, walls, umbrellas, etc. I also use my macro lens sparingly and take most food photos with a 17-55mm lens (28-88 equivalent).

  10. says

    It is so great to see so many responses so quickly! Reading thru them I have already found a few things to try.

    Currently, I never use flash and try to take my pics as often as possible in natural light. My camera is just a Kodak easy share point and shoot, which I know is not ideal but I also know there are bloggers out there getting great shots with the point and shoot so I am not ready to upgrade yet.

    I edit with Photoshop elements 8. I generally do all editing, cropping, re-sizing for the photo sites in Photoshop and then upload the pic as is. I have been just doing a normal save in a jpg format.

    I use a Mac Powerbook, mine is a pretty new (less then 6 mos old) 13″. My computers screen color setting is currently LCD, which I think might be a problem. I have been using firefox to upload, so I will definitely try switching to Safari.

    Again, thank you everyone for so many helpful comments!

  11. says

    Just getting started in photography, has give me a huge advantage over well established photographers. I don’t have to buy expensive editing software, learn all the tricks, and waste time on my computer. I started shooting weddings because I love photography and I love people, so that’s what I spend my time doing!

  12. says

    Very good post for this novice blogger. Photography is one of the things I’ve yet to master-and honestly since this is just a hobby I’m not too worried about it. I’d rather focus on cooking and eating. :) I am amazed at the quality of the pics out there on the various blogs and do plan on working on those pic skills at some point.

    BTW- The bread looks great! Betcha it’s make great toast! Thanks for sharing.
    .-= Tupper Cooks´s last blog ..Tupper,Why Do You Blog? Part 2…… =-.

  13. says

    That tip about keeping the subject within a square frame is something I’ve been working on myself. I always forget to think about it!!

    I wish I had some advice to offer for the issue with the different colors on different monitors… I was having that problem myself for quite some time and didn’t even know it!
    .-= Kaitlin´s last blog ..Thanks! =-.

  14. says

    My photos aren’t very good and I’ve never been accepted at Tastespotting (stopped submitting to Foodgawker after they started having ad-redirects when you’d click a picture; that’s disingenuous and hurts both the bloggers and the visitors), but I get upset when I see a photo that looks a lot like one of my rejected ones be accepted. And I have to say that name recognition works both ways. Seriously. I’m a “don’t accept” person; I’ve got a lousy reputation, so why would they look twice? They don’t even click through to the page anymore on mine (so saith my blog stats). But other people are “always accept” bloggers, so when they see the name, they get in.

    I’m basically ok with that, but people should know that it’s there. Don’t always beat up your skillz – you might just not be famous enough yet.
    .-= camille´s last blog ..Taco “Soup” =-.

  15. says

    If you have a mac you need to set the monitor color to the photoshop colors, for instance the Adobe colors, if that’s what your using. I was having the same problem and one of my twitter friends helped me out. I have an old mac and I am set my mac set to Adobe 1998. Then always save your file for web and devices as png for your blog (the colors are supposedly better as I understand it) and jpeg at height or width 250px (exactly) for the food porn sites. If you let their software size it down it will distort and usually be rejected.
    .-= Angie´s last blog ..Hummingbird Cupcakes =-.


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