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. 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!

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  3. 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! :)

  4. 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 ;)

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

  6. 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.

  7. 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!

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  10. 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!

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  15. 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!

  16. Great pix, thanks for sharing!

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