The food styling contest that did not work in my favor

My team had a virtual offsite the last two days (budget cuts in a sad economic environment), and one of the “fun” activities we did was a food styling/photography contest. At first, I didn’t think much of the contest. I wasn’t even sure I was going to enter it because I couldn’t be bothered to cook and style something this past weekend, but then I remembered all the other food photos I had styled over the years, and I decided to go back to them and see which one I might enter. So I chose a photo I had spent quite a while on: apple cider donuts. It seemed like a good idea given we’re now in September, so it would be very appropriately seasonal. I spent a while figuring out how to style the photos before you even factor in how long it took me to make and fry all those donuts! I even added some props: I put the donuts on a warm brown cutting board, added a mug of hot apple cider, and made a festive background of autumn squash and apples. I figured: this has to win SOME award; it was shot really well in perfect light, not to mention I used an Adobe program to do some light editing. I posted it on my food handle on Instagram over three years ago, and people really liked my shots.

Well, there were three categories where you could be considered in this team contest: most stylish, tastiest, and most likely to be eaten on our team. I did not win a single category. In fact, I later got told, when I revealed that the apple cider donuts photo was mine, and YES, I MADE those freaking donuts, that more than half my entire team (we’re about 33 people) thought that my photo was a “fake”: they thought it was a card stock image that someone threw in as a joke to confuse people, and there was “no way that anyone on our team could take a photo that perfect.”

This is what happens when you are good at something: you end up getting penalized for how good you are, and it gets used against you. I guess it’s the world we live in, so what else is new?

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