Remember this choriqueso from El Tizoncito? The picture, taken in 2011, was so bad it gave me the idea to look at all of my photos from that year in a hunt for the worst, and it turned out that the heap of cheese and sausage one commenter likened to horse vomit was only one of of many bad photos I'd taken. I was forced to admit the obvious: I am a terrible food photographer.
The exercise has become a sort of annual self-deprecative tradition that has proven entertaining and has also given me a way to gauge my progress as I work to better my skills with a camera. The good news: I think I'm starting to see some modest improvement. The bad news: not really.
Here are this year's worst food photos, taken by your humble food critic.
Let's get right in your face to start. This was my attempt to document the how well my burger had been cooked at Rodeo Goat in Fort Worth. I know I've seen similar photos capture a burger's center with appetizing results, but this looks like this burger has just punched you in the face. Don't look at it too long. You'll never want another burger again.
This photo is a mess because the kitchen cut the burger in half before they served it. I'd taken a date to the Lake House Bar and Grill, and we told the bartender we wanted to split a burger and some nachos. The nachos came out like most nachos do, but the burger was mutilated. I tried my best to get a nice profile shot, so it would look whole, but the patty was slipping out the side and the whole burger was on the verge of falling over.
Normally I don't mind when a pupusa leaks a little cheese while it's cooking because the grill cooks it to a crisp and you get those nice crunchy dairy bits. But this pupusa, served at a little Salvadorian restaurant on the corner of Carroll and Columbia Avenues, had a complete hemorrhage. It tasted fine enough, but it looked like a pupusa train wreck.
This shot may not be unappetizing, but I'm including my attempt to document fried chicken because it illuminates my cluelessness. I'm still trying to figure out why I thought it was a good idea to take golden-brown fried chicken and put it on a cutting board that's the exact. Same. Color. A cheetah would kill for camo this good.
This terrible food photo is clearly not my fault. A staff photographer for Saveur couldn't make these tacos from Bachman Lake Taquerìa look good. They definitely tasted good, though.
If Afrah had swivel stools I'd say I was spinning while I took this one, but they don't. Maybe I sneezed.
This picture is a shame because the beef sandwich from The Corner Bar is half-decent when it's not too salty. Not that anyone would try it after looking at a picture like this one. Low lighting is hard to deal with, but this shot is just abysmal.
Speaking of low lighting, I don't think one photograph I've taken in Cock and Bull has ever approached anything close to appetizing. This might be one of the darkest bars in Dallas.
I know the picture was taken of one of their Sunday afternoon blue light specials, but what's in that bowl is yours to guess.
And how about no light. This one is Chad Houser's fault. His Café Momentum event co-sponsored by the House of Plates had me locked in a dark room eating scary things. The food was delicious, once it actually found your face, but the pictures were not.
It's bad enough that this photo taken at Babe's is cast in a green hue, but I can't envision a world in which I didn't have the discipline to not touch the sides until the chicken-fried steak and fried chicken arrived. I mean, of course I had to have one bite of each side as it hit the table, just to make sure they tasted all right. And then another bite of those potatoes because they remind me of Thanksgiving. And the seven spoonfuls of the corn because it was sweet and my fried things were taking forever to come out, and I was suddenly not sure I cared how the photo turned out. Clearly I'm better at eating, which is fine: I'll have plenty of terrible shots to shame myself with in 2014.
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