Lessons in Food Blogging, Pt. 3: How to Get Accepted by Foodgawker

March 8, 2012

For those of you not as obsessed with food and the internet as I am, Foodgawker is a blog aggregator that publishes really amazing food photographs from a wide range of food blogs. It's a great place to discover new recipes or simply just browse and drool. Since there are a lot of food blogs floating around in the internet, I like to think of Foodgawker as a quality filter for what's out there.

I've had some recent success with getting some of my posts up on Foodgawker lately:

As you can see, I'm pretty excited about it.

To have your blog feature on Foodgawker, you simply submit a photo from your website -- anybody can submit, but not everybody gets featured on the site. Editors from the site first review your submission before it goes live, and will either approve it for publishing or (in my case, most likely) reject it. Foodgawker is pretty selective about what photographs and blogs they publish -- they only publish the pictures that they deem the most aesthetically pleasing and of the highest quality. For every photo that I've gotten accepted by Foodgawker, I've had at least two others rejected -- not even bad ones, mind you, but pictures that I'm actually proud of.

The great thing about Foodgawker is that when they reject your photos, they give you feedback on why they rejected the submission. This is great advice for budding food photographers like myself. I figured it would be helpful to share some of the feedback I received from the site, so that any aspiring food bloggers hoping to get published on Foodgawker (I know this was my personal goal for a long time) will have a better idea of what the site is looking for. So here it is -- a parade of rejection for the work that I'm proud of. And they say that you are your toughest critic. Hahah. Lies.

Chocolate-Hazelnut Crepe Cake
from 'Happy Birthday, Mom! A Cake for You'

Attempt #1

Foodgawker Feedback: Composition - awkward angle

My Feedback:
I really like this photo. Foodgawker automatically crops all submitted images to a square with 250 x 250 dimensions. The cake looked good right in the center of that 250 x 250 square, so I was surprised when they rejected it. But after carefully browsing through all the images featured on the site, I realized that they rarely post photos taken at a bird's eye view. The majority of photos featured on the site are taken at a slight angle tilting downwards (as if a person were standing at the side of a table where the food was placed looking down at it), or around eye level to the dish.


Attempt #2

Foodgawker Feedback: Harsh lighting and/or overexposed

My Feedback: Again, I really like this photo. This photo is taken at the more traditional angle that I was talking about earlier -- the angle that most Foodgawker-accepted photos are taken at. I can see why Foodgawker favors this angle; from this point of view, you capture the texture of the cake, which you fail to do with the bird's eye angle.

Unfortunately, I was a little too generous with my exposure. I'd chosen to overexpose the shot slightly because the majority of pictures featured on Foodgawker are brightly lit. But upon further examination, I realized that the light in said photos is almost always softened -- most likely by some post-processing handiwork in Photoshop rather than actual physical tampering with the camera's exposure setting. Grumble.


Attempt #3

Foodgawker Feedback: Accepted!

My Feedback: Of all the three photos I submitted, I actually like this one the least. I submitted this one rather half-heartedly after my previous two rejections.

But Foodgawker tends to favor photographs with a shallow depth of field; that is, the closest part of the picture will be in focus, while everything else is blurry. For this picture, I focused the camera on the top-middle part of the cake in an attempt to capture the crepe interior of the cake as well as the cake top studded with Valhrona pearls. Since that was what I wanted to focus on, I used a low aperture to blur out everything else -- I especially wanted to take focus away from the chocolate smudges of the white plate.

While the technical aspect of the photo worked well, I prefer the styling and the composition of the previous two photographs. I don't like the way you can see the bars behind my inner-city window -- but I guess Foodgawker doesn't mind that too much. It just goes to show that while Foodgawker provides a pretty good assessment of your work, it might not necessarily align with what YOU think is good. And that's okay.

So for all you budding food photographers out there, keep trying! I'm still learning myself. I'll continue to post rejections and feedback periodically as they occur. If anybody has any photos and feedback they'd like to share, please feel free to post them here! We're all in this together. Kinda.


  1. I've recently started submitting photos to Foodgawker and Tastespotting, not really knowing how the site worked. When I recieved 3 declines in a row from Foodgawker, I was a little offended and frankly confused. Your post has been tremendously helpful and I'm happy to hear that I'm not the only one in this position! Thanks!

  2. It is frustrating when TS accepts one photo and FG rejects the same one. But I will try to pay attention to the angle while submitting to FG and check back my rejected ones to see if it was all above head shots.

  3. Such a great post, thanks for sharing your experience it's really helpful :)

  4. Thank you so much for writing this: I was told all my pics are underexposed.

  5. This is so helpful to read! I've had 8 rejected by food gawker, and 7 (SEVEN!) of those 8 were accepted by tastespotting. I feel like I will never crack the code to food gawker. Many times I get the "awkward angle" or horribly ambiguous "composition" feedback. Oh well. It's teaching me to not give up :)


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