Why take pictures of food?

Why not? Everyone does it now, don’t they? Spend five minutes looking at Instagram and I bet you’ll look at hundreds of pictures of food. People want to show how bad they are (burgers?) or how good they are (vegetables?) or what a great cook they are (dinner). Pictures of food are everywhere on social media. Look at Clerkenwell Boy’s Instagram account, I’ll bet you hard money that it will make you hungry and it’ll make you want to go to where he’s eaten. His Instagram account is so good it’s turned into his career.

People take photos of their food when they are eating out because they want to show their friends how cool they are, ‘look at where we’ve been’. This can be annoying if you are serving these people. ‘Excuse me, my foods a bit cold’. Well if you hadn’t spent the last five minutes Instagramming it, it might not have been! Taking pictures of your food in a restaurant seems to really annoy some people. Not me though by the way. I have just read an open letter on the internet written specifically to people who take pictures of their food (Google it if you don’t believe me). If, like me, you take pictures of your food, we really pissed that woman off.

So social media was part of the reason I started to take pictures of food. Another was that my wife and I ran a pub and sometimes she cooked stuff that I just wanted to photograph, it looked that good. We did a Local’s Night every Thursday and we would have a different menu every week. I took pictures of that and posted them on social media (mostly Twitter) to try and get the word out about what we were doing. We were just off the high street and we were competing with all the high street chains with their fancy two for ones and Groupon vouchers. We had to shout about ourselves or else we’d drown.

My wife and I always looked at food magazines and one of the staple birthday and Christmas presents to her, from me, was always a new cookbook. She loved the recipes and I’d stare at the pictures. In our time together she’s cooked some amazing meals and when I haven’t taken a picture of the food I could kick myself. I mean how long does it take? Although, ‘your food’s getting cold’, is something I often hear.

Food is the one thing that we all do. We have to, in order to survive. We do it together to celebrate, we do it alone as a guilty pleasure sometimes, we do it as couples and we do it as families. Simply put, food is the one thing the world has in common. Show anyone a picture of a plate of food and anyone can go some way to understanding that picture. We don’t have to start reading the image, discuss the meaning of the image or the semiotics of the image (yeah, I went to college). It’s a picture of food. It can make you hungry, it can make you squeamish, it can make you want to make that food or it can make you want to go out into the world and eat at that place where the food is being made.

So I like taking pictures of food. I like looking at other people’s pictures of food. I like showing other people pictures of my food. What and where I’ve eaten. I like how somethings look when they are photographed. The texture of a mushroom, the oil on a piece of fish, the colour of a tomato. Food is a common language that we can all speak. Or am I just greedy and talking out of my arse?