I have decided, after lengthy internal debate, to start adding my three cents here at the T-Stop (three cents being the entirety of my earnings so far with Google AdSense). While the site soars visually, thanks to your contributions, it lacks a voice (beyond those kitschy titles…who comes up with those, anyway?). A voice to give the site some dimension and warmth, or at the very least some content to provide you yet another excuse to delay cleaning out your FoodBuzz inbox.
I am that voice.
While I don’t want to mess with a good thing–and I count TasteStopping as a good thing–I think a little human interface, a dose of verbage, an opinion or two might give those of you who visit a reason to come back more often and hopefully contribute your own dialogue. The longer I am involved with blogging, bloggers and the blogs they write the more I realize what this whole deal is about: connection.
Without further delay, let me launch the inaugural post with my food photography tips.
Now, I am just a regular food lover with my own baking business, treading water in the world of blogging about edibles. I am neither a food stylist, nor a photographer, nor a professional chef. My tendency is to eat first, shoot later, which leaves little to photograph. If you want professional advice about your food photography, I will list some excellent resources at the bottom of this diatribe. If you want some practical pointers that don’t even involve your camera, sit up straight and take the phone off the hook, because here we go.
Timing is technique in some parts of the world.
My batting average at the big sites is excellent for a professional baseball player. For a sensitve artist with skin as thin as phyllo, however, that record is pretty discouraging. Of course, that is why I started TasteStopping, but even that doesn’t always soften the blow, especially when the rejected photo in question is a much-labored-over gingerbread house.
However, in the fullness of autumn, as Halloween approached, I noticed that I was enjoying a string of successes at TasteSpotting. My puff pastry post for Daring Bakers was accepted. My ghost sugar cookies and marshmallow treat goblins made in honor of the Great Halloween Tweet were each given a nod. My Daring Bakers macarons found their way in.
Do you notice a pattern? Let me boil it down.
Tailor your submissions to the time of year. I swear those marshmallow treat goblins, as fun as they were to make, were not the prettiest submission. And had it not been for the spirit of Halloween overtaking the moderators at TasteSpotting, there is no way in Hades that those little kindergarten party snacks would have passed inpection. So, as they say, “‘Twas the season.”
With Valentine’s Day coming up, think about what you can do to squeeze your way into the awareness of the people of TS, FG, and PG by giving them what they want: seasonal and themed submissions. In the two weeks leading up to February 14, do red, do hearts, do cupid and lace. Dip things in chocolate, add roses to the equation. Anything you can do to exploit the holiday for your photographic ends will, in my experience, give you a better chance of having your photo published. The editors are looking to stack the deck, so to speak. Even as late as the day of there’s plenty of time to be published. After all, when the whole world (or at least North America) is agog with romance, the aggregate sites are smart enough to play to that. Help them. Help them help you. (TasteSpotting and Photograzing seem to lean this way more than FoodGawker, but it doesn’t hurt to try this tactic with all of them.)
Everybody’s doing it. As any fan of TasteSpotting and FoodGawker will tell you, there are certain times during each month when those sites are overrun with photos of the same item (albeit different interpretations from different bloggers). While some lament this hijacking, it gives you a great opportunity to jump on that bandwagon. My puff pastry photo for the Daring Bakers September challenge was tweaked within an inch of its life on Picnik, and I wasn’t sure that would even do the trick. Full disclosure: after being accepted at TasteSpotting, it was rejected from FoodGawker. I went back and retweaked, resubmitted, to no avail. Which leads me to believe that Tastespotting relaxes the moderation guidelines a bit for submissions that belong to one of these cooking collaboratives. What does this mean for you? Be a joiner.
Find a cooking group that suits your needs, skills, or interests, and register to cook or bake with them. Daring Bakers, Daring Cooks, Tuesdays with Dorie, Bread Bakers Apprentice, Scratch and Sniff Cookery, 10 in 10 the list goes on and on. Find one that appeals and join. Then, get to work on whatever recipe is sent down the pipeline. Finally, follow through by posting your results on your site and submitting photographic evidence to the big guys. If you can’t find something to light your Bunson Burner, start a collective cooking/baking/blogging effort yourself! (Do I sense bento making a move?)
(As a nice perk, even if your photos don’t make the collective grade, participating in these groups will still help your traffic, as fellow members seek out your posts.)
So there you have it. A few tricks I have learned in my short time doing what I do. I’d love to hear what other tricks you have found to be helpful in your quest to publish more photos on more aggregate sites. I know that I can use the help!
Rather than point to specific posts, I encourage you to wander around each of these sites, as they have a lot of helpful information. In the comments section, feel free to leave your own personal favorites for photography advice.