Taking photos of food

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I like to take photos of my food when I go out. Sometimes, I take photos of my food at home too. Plenty of people do. But why?

Most people use their phones to take their photos. It’s quick, easy and allows you to upload your photos onto social media in seconds. Within minutes you could have dozens of likes, pins, hearts, reblogs etc. Meaning that within minutes, many people could have seen your post. So why might you want all these people to see photos of your food? Perhaps it’s because we just want to show off a bit, to flaunt the beautiful things in our lives. This sounds reasonable enough, as many have said that people use social media as a sort of “highlights reel” to display their most happy and covetous moments.

Those who don’t upload onto social media might show a photo to a friend, or keep it to themselves as a food journal recording what they have eaten. In either instance, the target audience is much smaller, perhaps resulting in a lesser need of the perfect shot. Those who photograph with this purpose in mind, are likely to be less concerned about having to take a good photo, and more with being in the moment, and enjoying the food.

There is a minority who take photos as part of their job, for example, a food blogger. There are also those who aren’t professional, but still like to leave reviews online. For these purposes a quality photo is vital. So much more can be said by a single photo in a glance, than a lengthy stream of words. Food has always been created to look appetising. Arguably, how the food may look, regardless of its taste, texture or aroma is important in itself. After all, we humans predominantly use our eyes to take in information.

While it’s arguable that the emphasis on the appearance causes chefs to place more importance on aesthetics, over other qualities, a side-consequence of the rise in people taking photos of their food is that the chefs can get rather disgruntled. The kitchen staff make a painstaking effort into crafting a piece of culinary art and serving it to you at its prime. But when left untouched, and cooling or warming, exquisite delights can easily lose some of their savour. This has led to taking photos of food becoming banned in many restaurants.

I’ve even heard of someone who was against taking unnecessary photos of food for fear of the storage space it would take digitally. Taking up more digital space meant that more storage needed to be bought. And buying more storage for the purpose of storing what are likely grainy low light photos wouldn’t be justifiable. This person was an earnest environmentalist, but I can only guess that having to manufacture more data storage and physically storing it negatively impacts the improvement.

Why do I like to take these photos? Probably a combination of reasons. I like to share with my friends the deliciousness in my life, so photos really work for me. It can also help when convincing my friends to go with me next time. The main reason, however, is that I’m a bit of a hoarder. I currently have (among other things) receipts from 2010, clothing tags, notes my friends wrote me in high school and course information booklets for universities I don’t go to. I want to remember things, to relive those memories. So when there is something as temporary as food in my life, I try to keep those memories forever by taking a photograph of it. The meal might last a moment, but, in this digital age, a photo lasts forever.