How to Get Your Photos Accepted to Foodgawker

Hello fellow food bloggers! Today I want to talk to you about how to get your photos accepted to Foodgawker. I know this is something that a lot of us struggle with as food bloggers, but I promise it’s not as hard as they make it out to be. Getting your photos accepted to Foodgawker is tough at first, until you figure out what they’re looking for–then you can get ahead of the game and post photos that you know will be accepted.

I’m here to eliminate the trial-by-error for you: Instead of you having to figure out what Foodgawker is looking for yourself, I’ll just tell you πŸ™‚

how to get your photos accepted to foodgawkerRight now, I have about an 80% acceptance rate with Foodgawker, but believe me, that wasn’t always the case. In the beginning I was getting rejected for all sorts of reasons, and then I figured out what they look for and what they accept. Now, it’s rare that my photos get rejected–and I don’t say that to brag, I say it to inspire you and give you hope! If you’re going round and round on the Foodgawker rejection train, I promise you that you don’t have to.

The tutorials I use in this will be for Picmonkey. I highly recommend getting Adobe Photoshop and Lightroom for your photos, but for those who do not have those programs, Picmonkey is a free, online editing tool that works great.

There are multiple reasons why photos get rejected from Foodgawker. Some of the most common reasons are: white balance issues, low lighting, composition, food/photo styling, or dull/unsharp. There a few others, but these are the main culprits of rejection. But what’s great about Foodgawker is that when they do reject your photo, they list specifically why it’s rejected, so you have the chance to fix the problem and resubmit it. I look at this as basically cheating on a test–it’s like your teacher is telling you specifically why you got points off, and then once you fix the problem you can hand your test back in to get full credit.

And that’s the thing to remember with Foodgawker, Persistence is key. Make sure you don’t just get a rejection email, wallow in your sorrows, and say “Why isn’t Foodgawker accepting my photos?” and be done with submitting that post. You need to take their critique, change what they rejected you for, and resubmit it! Once, I resubmitted a photo four times before it finally got accepted.

You may be reading this and asking yourself, “Why the heck would I go through so much trouble just to get accepted to one site?” And that is a great question. You can easily pin your post and photos to Pinterest and other social media channels without fear of rejection, however, getting accepted to sites such a Foodgawker and Tastespotting is a whole different ball game. First of all, the acceptance process makes Foodgawker exclusive: Once you get accepted, you will be amongst the elite food bloggers and food photographers. You will add credibility to yourself and your blog. Also, Buzzfeed and a few other hugely popular sites scour Foodgawker for their recipe posts–they want the best of the best, and you will be amongst the best of the best!

So, let’s jump into how to get your photos accepted to Foodgawker!

1. White Balance Issues

White balance is when the white parts of your photo are actually white! If your white balance is off, you may notice that the parts of your photo that are intended to be white are actually looking a little blue or yellow. This can be changed in the photographing process by adjusting the white balance setting on your camera. The setting will be in your menu.

But, say you just shot a beautiful meal, and it was so beautiful that you dug in right after and ate the entirety of it. Then, you realize you didn’t adjust your balance prior to taking your photos. Ugh! This has happened to me a few times, and it’s super annoying. But fear not, Picmonkey has a way to resolve this issue easily!

First, open your photo in Picmonkey. Then, click on the top editing tab on the left menu. Once there, click on the “Colors” option.

how to get your photo accepted to foodgawkerOnce your colors tab is open, click on the Neutral Picker.

how to get your photos accepted to foodgawkerWhen your Neutral Picker pops up, position it over a part of your photo that is intended to be white and click.

how to get your photos accepted to foodgawkerJust by doing that, it took the blueish tint off of my photo!

To finish, click “Apply.”

2. Low Lighting/Underexposed

As a rule of thumb, you always want to take your food photos in natural light (unless you have access to quality artificial lighting). The dull, yellow lights of a kitchen make food look absolutely terrible. Also, flashes just don’t work–they make your food look flat, discolored, and unappetizing.

You want to make sure to shut off all the lights in the room you are photographing in, and set the dish in a naturally well-lit area. Do not take the dish outside and take the photo with the sunlight right above you–this will result in photos with no depth and too much contrast.

Foodgawker loves bright photos–sometimes they will accept photos that I personally think are overexposed, but to each their own.

Here’s a quick way to adjust your photo’s exposure in Picmonkey:

First, click on the editing tab on the top of the menu on the left, then click on the “Exposure” option.

how to get your photos accepted to foodgawkerTo adjust the brightness and exposure in Picmonkey, first change the brightness, then the highlights. Lastly, to avoid the photo being washed out, adjust the shadows to make the dark parts of the photo pop.

how to get your photos accepted to foodgawker

3. Composition

Foodgawker accepts perfectly square images. Since most of you probably aren’t cropping perfectly square images for your blog, you’ll have to keep Foodgawker in mind while you’re photographing. I always make sure to shoot a photo a little further back then what I normally would, so that when I’m submitting to Foodgawker, I’ve left enough space for myself to crop the edges of the photo without cutting off anything super important. Foodgawker also doesn’t favor photos that are too close, so this helps in that aspect too.

There are multiple composition options for your photos, and it will honestly depend on what dish you are photographing, but below are a few of my favorite shots to take.

The rule of thirds shot:

how to get your photos accepted to foodgawkerThe overhead shot:

how to get your photos accepted to foodgawkerThe stacked cookie/pancakes/dessert shot:

how to get your photos accepted to foodgawkerThe skillet shot:

how to get your photos accepted to foodgawkerThe foreground-in-focus-shot:

how to get your photos accepted to foodgawkerThe half-plate shot:

how to get your photos accepted to foodgawkerWhatever shot you decide on, make sure that it really showcases your dish. Props are great, but you don’t want prop overkill. You want the full attention to be on the actual recipe that you’re trying to deliver to your readers.

4. Food/Photo Styling

This tip goes in-hand with number 3. How you style your food is incredibly important. You want it to look appetizing, no matter what it is. There are many ways you can do this, a few of my favorite are:

Sprinkle one of the ingredients around the dish:

how to get your photos accepted to foodgawkerDrizzle dressing/topping in a beautiful way:

how to get your photos accepted to foodgawkerAdd a pop of green:

how to get your photos accepted to foodgawkerStack foods that aren’t interesting by themselves (I know I mentioned this in the composition tip too, but it really is important!):

how to get your photos accepted to foodgawkerBe messy, in a neat way:

how to get your photos accepted to foodgawkerAdd subtle props:

how to get your photos accepted to foodgawker5. Dull/Unsharp

Having your photos be in focus is absolutely crucial. People like to look at clear, crisp photos. Though you can sharpen the photo a little in the editing process, you will need to focus on this when you are actually shooting. Whether you’re using Automatic focus or Manual focus, you want to make sure that the most important component of the dish is in focus.

Specifically for Foodgawker, they do not favor a shallow depth of field (when a small portion is in focus and the rest of the photo is blurred). However, as long as you have the important part of the image extremely in focus, then the rest can be blurred.

If you do want to sharpen your photo a bit, you can utilize the sharpen/clarity feature on Picmonkey.

First, open your picture in Picmonkey. Click on the edit tab at the top of the menu on the left, then click the “Sharpen” option.

how to get your photos accepted to foodgawkerThen adjust the sharpen and clarity settings until you are satisfied with the photo. Click apply.

how to get your photos accepted to foodgawker6. Sourcing

Make sure the link you submit is actually where the recipe is located. I’ve had a photo or two rejected because I tried to direct people to my blog post that said “I’m over at so-and-so today sharing this recipe, click here to check it out.” The recipe actually needs to be in the link you submit, instead of directing the viewer elsewhere.

7. Image not found

The image that you submit needs to be in the post that you submit. This doesn’t mean that the cropped, square photo needs to be in the post, but the original photo that you cropped your FG image from needs to be in your post.

8. Finished Product

Foodgawker prefers photos of the finished product of your recipe, not a step in the process. Though there are exceptions to this, try to always submit a finished product.

9. Filters

You don’t need a DSLR camera to get accepted to Foodgawker. In fact, you can take some beautiful photos on your iPhone. Instagram is a great way to know what your photos will look like in a cropped square.

With that said, Instagram filters are not OK for Foodgawker. Do not try to submit a photo that you’ve added a filter to. Food is so beautiful with natural light, you don’t need those silly filters!

10. Backgrounds

Backgrounds are so important! There’s nothing like a beautiful dish that I can’t focus on because my eye is drawn to the ugly chair in the background.

When you shoot from above, you eliminate the problem of getting furniture/cabinets/etc. in the background. However, when you do shoot from above, make sure that the table you are shooting on complements the dish. You could also put a linen napkin under the plate as a backdrop. I know that a lot of food photographers (myself included) use a wooden slab to go under the plate to add a a subtle, yet beautiful, background to the image. Another idea is to use a cutting board or a cookie sheet as a backdrop.

Wood slab:

how to get your photos accepted to foodgawkerCookie Sheet:

how to get your photos accepted to foodgawkerIf you’re not shooting from overhead, then make sure the background isn’t distracting. You can do this by placing a white canvas behind your dish:

how to get your photos accepted to foodgawkerOr by placing the rest of the dish in the background, so that it’s still relevant to the photo and not distracting:

how to get your photos accepted to foodgawkerThe thing to remember throughout this whole process is that you want your food to look as good as it tastes. I know a lot of food I make is incredibly delicious but doesn’t necessarily translate well in a photograph. You have to be creative in thinking of ways to make a dish look appetizing, even if it’s pretty boring to look at–that’s where props, pops of color, backgrounds, etc. come into play!

If you need more in-depth tips on food photography, I highly recommend Pinch of Yum’s e-book, Tasty Food Photography (affiliate link). Lindsay has some of the most gorgeous food photography I’ve ever seen, and she gives all of her tips and tricks in that book. But, she explains it all in an understandable way–you don’t have to be a professional photographer to know what she’s talking about. I used that book to take my photography to the next level.

If you have any other tips for Foodgawker, please leave them in the comments below. You can also ask further questions in the comments and I’ll do my best to answer them for you!


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    • Catherine Elsby says

      The tips are the same for Tastespotting! Except you will have to resize your photos to a smaller size for Tastespotting.

    • Catherine Elsby says

      That was one of my biggest problems too! After a few headaches I figured out what to do haha

  1. says

    Thank you! Bookmarked this one. I always give up right after the first rejection and then just submit a new picture fr oma new blogpost. Following your advice (do not give up) actually got me accepted this time. The first rejection comment was: Composition. When looking at my picture I though the problem might be that the bowl I presented was slightly dripping to the left. Straigtened it out with Lightroom. Send it again and….Victory!
    Funnily enough my acceptance rate with Tastespotting is much higher then with Foodgawker.. My goal now for the end of the year? Match your 80% acceptance rate ;-))) Have a lovely day!
    Floortje recently posted…Spinach and Cheese QuicheMy Profile

    • Catherine Elsby says

      Yay! This is so exciting!! See persistence is so key when it comes to FG, keep up the good work πŸ™‚

  2. says

    That was a really wonderful and helpful post, thankyou! I have just started using a DSLR for photos on my blog and am having a lot of fun πŸ™‚ I submitted a couple of photos and was not accepted, but am very motivated to keep improving and learning. I find lighting is the trickiest aspect. It’s winter here and the sun is down by the time I have finished cooking!!

  3. says

    For years i’ve sent many photos to foodgawker and always had an excellent
    acceptance rate (usually 66% acceptance)

    However, since last oct/nov suddenly every single photo i’ve submitted as
    been rejected as low lighting (even when it’s very exposed, white food on all
    white backgrounds, and i see accepted images with much lower lighting/darker

    Have you noticed any changed? it seems odd that after years of consistent work and
    acceptance I suddenly have stopped get accepted.

    • Catherine Elsby says

      I haven’t noticed any changes, but it definitely has to do with the individual reviewing your photo. Maybe try resubmitting the same photo to see if you get the same critique.

  4. says

    Oh my goodness, I am so thankful for you! I am just getting started with my blog and had submitted to foodgawker and was left shaking my head when I got rejected. I applied your tips and boom accepted! Thank you for this article. I love your site. You are very inspiring to me! πŸ™‚

  5. says

    I keep getting “under exposed” even though I think they are too bright, AND I see darker photos being accepted. Another I occasionally get is “awkward angle”, but it seems to me that it is no different than some of the angles I see. I don’t take it personally and strive to correct for those things, but it can be confusing sometimes.

  6. says

    Great tips! I have had only a handful of photos accepted by Foodgawker. I’m getting to know what they want a little better. I have noticed that it kinda depends on the person/persons evaluating the photo. They sometimes accept some strange photos and reject good ones. Like you said, I just pay attention to the critique and try to fix it if I can.

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