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April's theme is
MOTHERS & SISTERS.
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My relationship with food photography began long before Instagram: with my family’s first digital camera, in the days when four megapixels represented the height of technology. I was fascinated by the ability to permanently freeze the world around me, and fell under the impression that everything deserved to be thus captured.
Yep, the oldest picture of food in my computer’s library is blurry, homecooked penne. My pajama pants on the bottom are a fun bonus.
I became more selective as I grew older, though I still have a soft spot for delicious food. I am known to ask my friends and family not to touch their meals until I’ve arranged the plates properly and found the perfect lighting and angle. This process can take anywhere from 5 seconds to over a minute, but it probably feels more like hours to my hungry companions. I dislike the stereotype of obsessives who take pictures of every morsel – but not quite enough to stop me!!
And now, Instagram provides sweet, sweet vindication. In tandem with the rise of food as a vehicle for style and cultural capital, showing off our gastronomic conquests on social media has become an acceptable practice. Each day, I scroll through my feed and see everything from filter-free family meals to the highest of high-end restaurant fare. For example, this professional chef from Russia:
It seems to me that the most oft-liked foodstagrams are 1. artfully composed; 2. balanced in color; 3. of an instantly recognizable and widely loved item. This is where I fail more often than not, and my Photos app is filled with meals that never again saw the light of day. Some in the past year include:
Suspicion confirmed: fried pork katsu bathed in an eggy sauce doesn’t photograph too well.
I tried to spice up my cooking with some creative cropping – but even the most liberal use of filters could not save the bland colors on the plate.
Doing better in the color department, kind of artfully composed, and it tasted amazing – but who wants to see a fish looking up from their feed? Stare into the abyss, and it stares back at you…
But not all flopped, and with much practice behind me, I can achieve more appealing results on the regular.
It’s been five years since I joined Instagram, and leafing through the archives, I find that my photos of food recall emotions and memories just as palpable as those featuring people and scenery. So whether one #foodstagrams to make followers jealous of exotic eats, to enable vicarious consumption, or for the intrinsic pleasure of capturing a feast for the eyes and taste buds, I say it’s all good. Go forth, my friends, and hashtag away!