Food Photography: The Drive to Document

May  9, 2012

Yesterday in the test kitchen, Amanda, hospitable as she is, asked if anyone wanted coffee. This is normal. She set out to grind some Stumptown beans in a hand grinder. Also normal. At this point, a table full of us grabbed for our Iphone cameras – no, fumbled – like a herd of celebrity-chasing paparazzi. This is not normal.

To be fair, it would have made a great shot. But it still reinforces a question so often raised today: why are we so obsessed with food photography?

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This obsession with food photography – and the need share it among a community, often times through social media – drives us to document even the most simple and ordinary of things. Like the grinding of coffee. We’re even scrambling to get our cameras post-lentil spill, because the way the little beans arranged themselves on the floor was artistic, the Pollack of legumes. (It was at least Instagram-worthy.)

EcoSalon considers the current obsession with food porn further, suggesting that “food photos nowadays give us more than just a visual of the food. They make us feel that if we make that certain meal, we’ll also get the ambiance.” We may all be a bit more camera-obsessed, but it’s hard to see the downside: people are eating beautifully, more often, and documenting it all. And as slghtly more scientific proof, an NPR poll confirms that we’re all into the new trend. We say snap away. After you style your food, that is.

Foodie Underground: Why Are We Food Porn Obsessed? from EcoSalon

See what other Food52 readers are saying.

  • TheBostonian
  • ATG117
  • annabrones
Kenzi Wilbur

Written by: Kenzi Wilbur

I have a thing for most foods topped with a fried egg, a strange disdain for overly soupy tomato sauce, and I can never make it home without ripping off the end of a newly-bought baguette. I like spoons very much.


TheBostonian May 9, 2012
I just started a restaurant and bar blog, and honestly feel a bit silly photographing my dinner and drinks. I love sharing the wealth of awesome food and drinks in Boston, but still get hung up about it. But no one seems to mind and all my dinner companions have found it tolerable, if not normal.
ATG117 May 9, 2012
Recently, I noted that I tend not to look at recipes without photographs. Someone replied with something like a "really?" I get that this person was probably thinking that one must not be a sophisticated cook if they need a picture to help them judge a recipe. But, I'd argue that while I can very well judge an inspiring recipe from one that is not without photos, I am not nearly as inclined to make something that I can't see. The beauty of a well photographed recipe or food image draws me in, inspires me, and tantalizes my senses. I love that people are paying more attention to food photography and photography generally. Food is art and people making and eating food represent some of the profoundest memories. It should be photographed.
annabrones May 9, 2012
I am so glad you guys linked to this, thanks so much!