Food & Light: Favorite Images & Judging

This is my final post about Food & Light.  I figured I’d space them out so that those of you who aren’t quite as into photography as I am weren’t in snapshot overload.

Below are some of my favorite shots I took during our second day of the workshop.

We were at a local restaurant and listened to lectures from our instructors.

Me & Todd

And Diane gave a great presentation and I posted her Food &Light: Restaurant Photography Tips


After the presentations were over all of the students broke out our cameras and practiced shooting food.

Here are some of my favorite images that I captured during the second day of the workshop:



Juicy Tomatoes

Diane’s hands in action

Bowl of Produce

Chocolate Mousse (shot with iPhone camera and edited with Lightroom 3)

Took 3 shots and 2 worked.  Sometimes luck is on my side.


Nothing like shooting a clear liquid in a glass bottle while shooting into a huge glass window with the sun blazing in.  Try this sometime if you have a chance.  Or not.

Hummus.  I shot four frames and I was happy with all four.

I couldn’t decide which one I liked best.

Even though Diane said don’t overshoot from the same angle I was really pleased with all my hummus shots.

We were instructed to submit ONE PHOTO of all the photos we took during the second day of the workshop for judging.

5 people’s photos were “winners”.

The categories were:

Best Photo

The photo (below) is the one I submitted for judging.

In the end, it wasn’t selected as a winner for any of the categories.  The instructors said that there were so many close, close calls and they truly had a hard time selecting the five winning photos they chose.

I was disappointed but it just means I have work to do, growth to achieve, and like any creative pursuit you’re never “done” and you never have it all “mastered”.  This seems especially true with photography.

I asked Todd in quickly in passing what I could have done to improve my photo and he said the shot was a little “tight”.  Meaning, they wanted to see more background and more “scene”.

Ironically, I almost submitted this one which wasn’t as tight, but I didn’t because I really wanted to focus on the beauty of the hummus, the vibrancy, the colors, and so went with a tighter shot.  Oh well.

As with any art or creative pursuit, not only do we never have it all mastered, and we’re never done learning and growing, but what is beautiful is so subjective.

What one person finds lovely another may find not so lovely.  So judging is such a subjective thing.  Isn’t the the story of Foodgakwer and Tastespotting and Tasteologie, too?


1. Which images are your favorites?  Why?

Do they speak to you because you like chocolate, because you can feel the squeeze and tension in Diane’s hands, because the nuts look lovely, because the water makes you thirsty or reminds you of a time when you were out at a restaurant?  Or do you just like the hummus images ecause you’re a hummus fiend and it looks good.  <– which in the blogosphere is entirely possible since there are so many hummus fans!

2. Have you ever submitted anything for judging?  What was it and what was the outcome?  How did it make you feel afterward?

I admit, when I submit photos to the food sites and they make it, I am ecstatic because I feel validated.  My recipe development, the food I made, plated, shot, edited, posted, and submitted was worthy.  It’s not easy to do all those things and so when my images are accepted, I feel on top of the world.

Conversely, when my images are rejected (and some I understand why, others I am a bit surprised or even baffled) but rejection is hard!  Especially after all the work that goes into.  It’s not just the photography; it’s also the recipe development, grocery shopping for the ingredients, making the food, doing the dishes, spending time editing the images at my computer, uploading the pictures and making sure I am happy with each and every image one once blown up on the screen.  Not to mention, not every single recipe I create “works”.  Sometimes I “develop” things and they are flops.   So when I do spend time on a recipe and subsequent steps in the “process” and get rejected, I am bummed.

However, the rejection hurts less now that it used to.  I realize that it’s photography, a form of art, and not every thing or image is beautiful to every one or every judge.

It reminds me of being a little girl and submitting my craft projects in the county fair.  Somethings got blue ribbons, some things got nothing.  You never know what’s going to appeal to the judges.

3. Do you feel judged, in general, in life?

As an aside to the photography talk, as a woman, as people, I think walking around in our daily lives is one big act of being judged.

People in the world around us judge the way we look, the way we dress, the way our children are behaved, our size, shape, hair, makeup, wardrobe, the size house we live in, how many blog followers we have, how fast we run, what kind of food we eat, what kind of food we don’t eat, you name it, someone is always judging something.  

And many times, it’s pretty harsh.

What to do about it and how to keep a positive mental attitude and not let it bog you down, get you down, or prevent you from living a happy and joyous life I think is quite a task for most of us.  I just try to remember that what these people think or say doesn’t matter.  Other than what I think and how I feel, there are only a few people’s opinions on this planet that really matter to me.

The rest?  I try to brush things off and just keep smiling and doing my thing.  Chin up, head high, and not let other people’s judgments get me down.

How do you handle feeling or being judged?

Recap of Previous Posts:

The other posts in my Food and Light Photography Workshop series are:

Food & Light: Restaurant Photography Tips

Food & Light: Photographing Challenging Food & Personal Assignments

Food & Light: Photography Tips from Diane Cu

Food & Light: Photography Tips from Jen Yu and Matt Wright


P.S. From my last post about my new car, I loved hearing how you tackle car shopping and the whole lease vs. buy situation, too.  I’m lovin’ my new ride.

P.P.S. P.S. Thanks for the Attune Foods Healthy Free Food Giveaway entries!

52 comments on “Food & Light: Favorite Images & Judging”

  1. Yes I have definitely felt judged, many times. Try to brush it off like dirt on my shoulder though ;-)

    I love all of your photos, your photography has always been beautiful, but I can see how much it’s improving! I cringe when I look at my early blog photos…now after having an SLR for 2 years I am almost getting the hang of it…almost. Still trying to figure out the ideal lighting stuff. favorite shot in the post is probably the second nut photo or the vegetables. I like the nut shot because I love aperture priority/ blurred food in the background. I love the veggies because i LOVE colorful food photos!!!!!

    Need to find some similar workshops in Philly…you seemed to have learned a lot!

    • Your photography has grown leaps and bounds, too!

      Thanks for telling me you liked “the second nut photo or the vegetables” and why.

      And yes, workshops are great but there is NOTHING that can replace just practice, practice, practice with your camera…EVERY day!

  2. Your shots are all gorgeous! Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. I’m a fan of some tighter shots myself because those are often the ones that make you want to reach through the screen and eat it. I love your work, you should be proud! Wish I could have been there with ya.

    • Thank you, Angela! That means so much coming from you!

      I wish you were there, too! It would have been…..amazing!

      And tighter shots…it’s so subjective. On some of the food sites, they’ll use tighter shots, other times they won’t. And my goal is as you said “those are often the ones that make you want to reach through the screen and eat it. “–so that’s why I go tighter rather than looser in many.

      A judgment call.

      But we HAVE to get together and take pics together one day!

  3. any photo with the wooden surface is a winner, to me. i love that backdrop. that is one of the hints that i have taken to heart from all of the tips you have shared, averie – thanks! luckily i have dark + light hardwood in my place that i can use.
    sorry your photos did not get picked. rejection is hard – but look optimistically to the future – more opportunities await!

  4. Beautiful photos Averie! I’m especially loving the one with the water, it is so difficult to photograph water in a clear container with the window providing a back light! You took much better photos of that hummus than I did – I’m not happy enough with mine to even post them!

    Being judged can be difficult sometimes, but especially when you don’t know what the criteria are beforehand :) I was disappointed as well when I didn’t win anything, especially when I’m in the process of launching this professional photography career – ha!

    But, I still left F&L feeling encouraged and inspired, and with the drive to do better partially due to not having my photo selected, and partially encouraged because one of the instructors told me that she loved the photos on my blog. So, it’s all about finding that silver lining!

    BTW – thank you for posting all of these blog posts about F&L! Reading through them is like re-living the workshop over and over, I love it!

    • Glad you like the re-living part. It’s a bit much all at once, but what happens is that months later, people want photography tips or pointers. Now I have them to give :)

      The hummus…the crazy thing was that it was an AFTERTHOUGHT shot(s).

      I had put my camera down for the day, for good, for the workshop. And then saw that hummus and had to sort of wedge myself in between a woman and the table to get my shot and I dont remember who it was (but I think I was annoying her!) and so took 4 FAST shots. And got 4 useable pics! Other images I took 25 of and got…maybe 1. If that.

      Career..yes, you and me both. I’d love to do something more with my photography, too!

  5. thanks for LMK on both accounts, 1 & 2

  6. Beautiful pictures Averie! You and many other bloggers blow me away with your photography. It’s art! Sometimes I wonder why I post pictures!

    Judging…oh I could write a book! I think we’ve all judged others and been judged ourselves. It’s something I try not to do because now that I fully understand what judging is, it makes me feel yucky inside when I do it. It’s usually the result of stress and has more to do with me than the person I am thinking about.

    That being said, I’m personally glad that I’ve been judged by others in my life. It has taught me so much! Not only has it made me aware of how we can be prejudiced at times, but it has made me believe in myself so much more. Not everyone is going to agree with my decisions, but I certainly need to!

    At the end of the day, I believe this: there is no good or bad, right or wrong. There are only individual differences.

  7. Beautiful shots, Averie. I love the nut shot with the blurred background image, as well as the water bottle shot. Just beautiful!

  8. My favorite would probably be the 2nd photo of Diane’s hands…

    I love how you can see the beads of juice about to drip.


  9. Well I think your photos are all winners!

  10. It’s funny you mentioned Todd saying the image was a little too tight. I tend to gravitate towards tight shots too and have had a bunch denied from FG or TS because of that reason. To me, they look better than the shots farther away but I guess that’s not the general consensus when it comes to photography.
    Your shots are all gorgeous. That one with the water and the light in the background…wow, pretty amazing.
    I enjoyed all your food & light posts. Thanks for the recaps!

  11. ahhh love this! you’re right… someone is always judging something and our tastes are allll so different! i like tight shots. I want to feel like i can dive in and swim around in a bowl of hummus or reach out and grab a piece of fruit. So I get denied a lot from photo sights b/c I can’t get over my macro obsession =) I shall branch out one of these days! lol!

    thanks for sharing your class with us love!

  12. The hummus was my favorite. I like the depth of the colors and the contrast between the boat of hummus and the items in the back ground.

    I have never submitted anything to be judged.

    Yes, people judge everyday……..its kind of human nature…….I, to be very honest, don’t care. It just doesn’t bother me. I feel like (and have said a million times) if you don’t sleep with me at night or pay one of my bills why should I care what you think of me. Now, that being said, I try very hard to always smile and be there for people in my life and around me and commit random acts of kindness and so on so that I can go to bed every night knowing I have done all I can to be a good person. Wow, sorry so long winded! I think you are a wonderful person and I am glad I found your bog! :)

  13. i was wondering where that hummus came from ;) i love all of the shots, too…and as proof of what i was saying before about someone loving what i was on the fence about and vice-versa…i prefer close, almost tight shots as opposed to really loose shots. sometimes i get myself in trouble with it and if i need to print an 8×10 (which would crop) i am almost cropping off something important! so i should probably work on that…but mreh :P to each his (her) own, right?

    love the hand shots, as well. i am always drawn to action shots like that, and wish it was something i could set up myself. i think there is more of a story to go along with those types of shots, you know? am i making sense? lol.

    • we were commenting on each other’s blogs at the SAME TIME. I told you Im psychic.

      And the hand/action shots, yes, the tension, the energy, DOING things is always great to capture. I wanted to do more of those but obvi the act of squeezing things is like a 2 sec event, repeat for a few more shots, done. And yes there is always more of a story. Funny you should mention that b/c Diane said i could use that image and tell a story on my blog about something life related, nothing to do with food, but the shot speaks loudly enough to be on it’s own for a story/feature. You are such a smart cookie, Jess!

      And yes, that’s where the hummus came from :) And the water. haha!

  14. Ooooo I really like the 2nd to the last, and last hummus photos! And also, the citrus squeezing one! Action is always a plus ;) You’re right–the clear water glasses look really cool!! I’ll definitely give that a try :D And that’s crazy!! Your iphone photos actually look really crisp!

  15. My favorites are your vegetable shot and your water shot but they are all FABULOUS!

  16. My favorite shot is the one with the water bottle. I love the lighting and clean look of the shot. Thanks for posting about your F&L experiences–I’d love to attend such a workshop. Someday!

  17. But you mastered the glass shot! I think that’s my favorite of all of them. I’m so happy you shared all of your learnings with us folk. I just signed up for my first photography course in the Fall. Can’t WAIT!
    Also, amazed at the mousse shot taken from your iPhone.

  18. LOVE the hummus photos! The second to last one is my favorite :)

  19. The shot of the water is hands down my favorite. Don’t ask me why, I just LOVE it! I also love the second nut shot – I think the blurred background with the small depth of field…I love those kinds of shots. I like pictures that are simple and clean, composition wise. Not necessarily what is actually in the photo. Simple.

    Judging. Oy. I feel it less here in a small town, but my mom and I were talking about this all weekend. One thing she said to me that I didn’t really notice about myself is that I am oblivious to being judged. While most people sense it while it is happening, I don’t. Which is a good thing, I suppose!

  20. My fave photo is the first one of the veggies although I really loved the hummus shots too. I think it was the vibrant mix of colour that drew me to it. I’m in the process of saving for a new camera. All I use right now is a compact digital and I want to start experimenting and improving my photog skills!

    I get very squirmish and uncomfortable if I feel I’m being judged. I try to remember why I feel confident and comfortable in my own skin and put my chin up and continue on my way. It’s true that we are judged so often in our daily lives, but I think as long as you can be proud of who you are and feel good about yourself that is all that really matters.

  21. I LOVE the chocolate pic…what the heck is this mousse?? I want to eat it now…at 8:30 at night…sigh


  22. Hummus was hard for me to get a good picture of… it can look shapeless and and an icky color- but you captured it beautifully. I don’t think you should feel like all your hard work goes wasted when the image doesn’t get accepted to those websites. Think about all the readers who love taking a peak into your everyday life.. who are inspired by your recipes, photography pursuits, attitude etc.. It all is worth it, whether a panel of strangers like a photo of yours or not.

  23. Beautiful pics in this post, wow! The hummus shots came our great and I think you selected a great one to submit.

    1. Probably the bowl of produce and last one of the nuts, the angle, clarity, and colors work well to me.
    2. Not since my colloege art class days and it was a nerve racking experience. But I would have loved submitting photos and seeing other submissions. Depends on being judged. it’s a tough call in creative fields like art and photography because you don’t want your work to conform to someone else’s standards, but you want to make sure your messages is getting conveyed.

  24. These pictures are beautiful! I would love to get a nice camera and learn to take good pictures :) My mouth was literally watering looking at these, so you did a great job!

  25. I like the chocolate mousse one the best because the texture of the mousse is very evident, and it makes me want to stick my finger right in it and eat it allllllll up!

  26. Sometimes it is really hard to be judged or criticized… Specially on things like photography or other things were you put a lot of effort and time. But I bet the other attendants of Food & Light were all very good photographers.
    My favorite photos are: the second one with the nuts, I think it has a beautiful depth in it and the nuts come out really good, there is a nice warmth in the photo. I also like the first one with the hummus, where the bowl is slightly diagonal placed, I think that by placing the bowl like that and not completely vertical, it creates more depth and isn’t that frontal. There are a lot of great pictures between your shots!

  27. Pingback: One Leg at a Time

  28. I can really relate to the judging issues you brought up. As a jewelry artist, I not only make jewelry, I also have to submit work to get into juried shows, submit work to magazines, books, calendars…all of it juried. When I get accepted – great, on top of the world, I’m validated. To be rejected…well, that stings a lot longer sometimes. One thing I always keep in mind however – juries/judges..they’re all different. They are all different people coming from different backgrounds, different training/schools of thought and looking for different things. I might be rejected for an annual publication one year and resubmit the same piece the following year and get in. I always try to be aware that this isn’t about me personally…it’s really just different juries looking for different things.
    As logical as that is, it is still hard not to take rejection somewhat personally…it’s a piece of you, the artist, that you are putting out there. Anyways, just wanted you to know that you aren’t alone…we all struggle with the dreaded “R” word!

    • Christine thanks for your comment and I remember your site and you once I clicked on it and you said you do jewelry. Your work is beautiful and yes, we are all artists, doing the best we can to honor ourselves, make a living, and somehow find a balance…I am sure the dreaded R word is just par for the course for all of us but it’s our attitude that helps us keep going, right! :)

  29. My favourite photo is the Water shot. The picture is so bright with the light reflecting off most (maybe all) of the surfaces. Also like the fact that there are some bubbles in the water bottle that were captured in your shot.

    I don’t generally submit anything to contests, but I do like to make new recipes (especially desserts) and bring them the family gatherings. When everyone raves about it, that makes me very pleased (even if the recipe isn’t my creation/idea).

    Used to feel “judged” when people would come over to the house the first time. I would spend time trying to get everything clean, and ended up being exhausted. Now I focus on key areas, and otherwise let it go. After all, we LIVE here ;)

  30. I am so not missing this next year. Great photos!

  31. Hmmm…I do think I prefer the hummus picture that isn’t as tight. Now the question is, would I think that if I didn’t already know that the photography expert picked that one? I truly don’t know! I think part of judging comes from what we think others believe. I don’t think everyone is like that, but in general people kind of seem to look for a concensus.

    I have social phobia, so yes I feel judged constantly. Like pretty much every single time there is someone other than me around. It’s something I’m working on, and it feels really silly to admit. In fact, I almost deleted this paragraph twice. But part of the process I think is admitting my fear. Sometimes I’m more comfortable talking about it than other times. And I know I’ve mentioned in comments before, but I can never remember on which blogs. Let’s just say judgment is what I fear the most and seems to be what people are the quickest to give.

  32. great post, and great shots!!! it is funny to be judged on photos sometimes because it really depends on who is looking at, or who knows the story behind the picture. We get frustrated with being judged by our photos from sites like foodgawker, but we still submit they eventually like one. haha but it is funny to see what they say about the ones the don’t like, guess it is a learning experience for us!

  33. Pingback: Veggies & Pictures

  34. Pingback: San Diego Cityfest

  35. Yep, the hummus pops, and it’s a beautiful photo Averie. All of these are. Especially love the tomato on the green cutting board and the glass bottle full of water in front of the window. So wish I could have attended this workshop!

  36. Pingback: Beautiful Eyes

  37. Pingback: Say NO To Auto Book Review & Giveaway

  38. Pingback: Rosemary Chipotle Roasted Almonds

  39. Pingback: KitchenAid, Cook Books, & Photography Event

  40. I love this post! I have to sit down when I have more time and look through all the photography links. My composition is always tight and lighting is a major issue for me here in the Northeast. Hurry up Spring!

  41. Great pix, thanks for sharing!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *