Naples, Italy (and Vesuvius) in 2011.
Where pizza was won and lost.

Why Most Pizza Sucks?

  • Mar 31, 2024

Why most pizza sucks is the same reason most people hate having their photo taken.

Let’s begin by explaining that what is meant by "most" pizza is frozen pizza. Sure, it’s filling, and it can serve a purpose. But let’s agree it’s at best MEH.

I’ll tell you why in a minute.

Meanwhile, we need to digress. Because I need to talk about Naples, Italy. Reputedly, it is the birthplace of pizza, in about the 1880s. And so, when my wife and I went there in 2011, I was excited to seek out and taste the real thing, the Ur-pizza as it were. Our B&B host gave us directions to the best-est, most authentic place.

And the pizza was… MEH.

I thought it was just me. Maybe I just don't have wide enough experience to judge this sort of thing. But then last year I picked up a copy of 10 Tomatoes That Changed the World, about how this amazing fruit (not a vegetable) has altered our planet.

It turns out that pizza in Naples is awful, and it is because every pizza place there is bound by a crazy tradition/rule that pizza has to be made in a very formulaic way from 150 years ago that is super basic and not very tasty. But it is the original way, and so it cannot be messed with.

It’s MEH because it is stuck in time. Innovation and invention are outlawed.

Now, back to frozen pizza. The reason that variety of pie is MEH is different: it’s because it is convenient. And, as Seth Godin articulated in a great episode of Akimbo, “the convenient way to make pizza is the wrong way to make pizza... pizza made in an inconvenient way by someone who cares is better than lazy pizza.”

Godin argues that “when we are willing to do something inconvenient, we will discover that maybe we did something worth arguing about, something worth crossing the street for, something worth posting about, talking about and deciding to make even better.”

And here’s a corollary to that: we also should not just do things the way they have always been done, because, as Naples proves, the original way is not going to be better just because it is the original way.

So what does this have to do with photography? (Finally!)

Well, I believe that one of the reasons so many people hate having their picture taken is that they have been subjected to the frozen or Naples pizza versions of photography: photographers who just do things either the “usual” way or the “convenient” way. Photographers who don’t take time to slow down, to be inconvenient and innovative, who are not striving to make something “worth posting about, talking about, worth crossing the street for.”

And THAT is my goal. To make headshots, portraits, and company photography that is different, less convenient, and more innovative.

Homemade, not frozen.

Worth crossing the street for.

As Godin writes: “Maybe just maybe we could decide there are some things in our life that are worth doing the difficult way, the inconvenient way because they're better.”


And, as to pizza? Well, my wife Stephanie (also unimpressed by Naples pizza) makes the world's best, as far as I am concerned. She takes her time, has honed a process to create a crispy, yet chewy crust, and knows how to combine toppings in fresh and innovative ways.

And now I'm getting hungry.