Ah, Christmas cookies. They're a tradition for almost everyone I know. While I'm not the biggest fan of sugar cookies normally (they're boring) something about Christmas simply begs for them. I think it has something to do with decorating them while listening to Christmas music and making yet another giant holiday mess in the kitchen. Oh, and they make the best shaped cookie cutters for Christmas time.
So this post was originally going to be about making sugar cookies and decorating them with instructions and tips, but I didn't really take enough pictures during the process, so it seemed silly. (I admire "real" food bloggers to much more now -- taking pictures and cooking is quite a challenge, and very unnatural if you're used to just cooking, sans camera.) When reviewing the batch of photos another idea came to me to change my mind about what this cookie post was going to be.
Besides the dearth of pictures of the process, something else happened to make me think about my photos of Christmas cookies. I submitted one of the pictures of my Chocolate Crackled Cookies to foodgawker, and it was declined. :( Reason? Composition: too tight.
At first I was huffily thinking "what, it WAS NOT!" so I googled the critique, hoping to get a little more information to help me understand what I did wrong. Mostly I found other blogs complaining about their photos getting rejected by foodgawker.
Now I know that everyone with a DSLR thinks it will magically make them a photographer (*ahem* complaining bloggers). It doesn't, and I know that websites like foodgawker are successful because they have such strict guidelines for the photos they accept, but why would I want them to accept my picture if they didn't have high standards? It wouldn't mean a whole lot if just any old pictures could make it.
I've taken photography classes from great photographers in my fancy University Art School. I got an A in it too. I know how the camera works. ...But that was a year and a half ago, and I'm out of practice. (We also didn't take pictures of food, or learn to style it.) So the rejection was a wake-up call telling me how out of practice I am, and how much it takes to keep skills sharp. It's not that these photos are bad. They aren't. Most of the pictures I saw of other blogger that got rejected weren't that bad either, but they weren't great. Neither are mine.
Looking at other pictures that had been rejected helped me see the pattern of what "doesn't work" and what does. Now I understand what the comment about having too tight composition was all about, and what I can do better next time. (Really zoomed in close up pictures of cookies are sorta claustrophobic.) I'm glad I got some feedback, and in searching for the answer I got to see feedback on the work of others too. And while rejection is never exactly fun, constructive criticism definitely helps artistic growth.
Not even professional photographers take perfect shots every time, and that's okay; there is always room for improvement, and we can always get better.
Or we could just eat cookies. :)
Until Next Time,