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NY Times On People Who Photograph Food

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  1. Definitely too much time on their hands and same for those that would want to view what those people are eating.

    2 Replies
    1. re: monku

      Especially the first guy, Javier - I actually clicked on the link to his website, and he's got tons of photos of wrapped PowerBars and Sunmaid raisins - There wasn't an interesting picture in the bunch.

      1. re: newfie29

        If the pictures are any indication of his diet, I'm a little concerned for his health. Or at least his imagination.

    2. Two words come to mind on reading this article. One is "attention." The other is one that shouldn't be uttered in polite company but rhymes with "oars."

      1. At least they mentioned Chowhound!

        13 Replies
        1. re: DonShirer

          And someone named Pamela Hollinger who posts some of her pics to her FB account as well as Chowhound?

          But I can't even fathom going to Alinea and realizing the wrong lens was brought to the restaurant and leaving your spouse there to run home to get the proper lens! WTH????

          1. re: LindaWhit

            My thoughts exactly. Qui est-ce qui cette Pamela Hollinger?

            1. re: buttertart

              P.S. I do have to add I'd probably bring a small digital camera to Alinea though. There would be no other way to "describe" the dishes to someone who wasn't there without pics.

              1. re: LindaWhit

                True, but taking an hour to go get your lens, really...

                1. re: buttertart

                  I agree - if I was the poor woman left sitting there, I'm not sure I would have been there when he got back.

                  1. re: LindaWhit

                    Wife apparently. If that makes a difference.

            2. re: LindaWhit

              Grant Achatz weighed in a while back on people with cameras at Alinea: http://alineamosaic.com/forum/index.p...

              Among other things, he notes that part of the point of some of his food is that its culinary effects are ephemeral, and it must be eaten when served in order to experience those effects properly - so people who stop and spend time photographing it before eating it are missing out on the food they're there to eat. Sort of like tourists who never unglue their eyes from the viewfinders of their camcorders to actually take in the sights "live." It becomes more about having the documentary evidence than living the experience of the vacation, or the meal.

              1. re: Caitlin McGrath

                Equally true for diners, tourists, and former US senators.

                1. re: Caitlin McGrath

                  I understand that, but at the same time, I understand the urge to photograph something so, well, photogenic and artistic. He creates works of art; people want to capture them, to allow them to exist beyond their short physical life...

                  Not having been to Alinea (sadly), I don't know what sort of timing the food demands. For me, the 2 seconds it takes to snap a photo doesn't preclude enjoying my meal in the present immediately afterward; if I pushed the food away after taking its picture, then that the same as someone who spends 30 seconds in the Sistine Chapel to focus a lens at the ceiling and leave.

                  1. re: tatamagouche

                    BTW, some interesting comments on that thread. Thanks for it.

                    1. re: tatamagouche

                      I don't think taking a couple of seconds to snap a picture would be a problem, but he's really talking about (in addition to talking about the people taking pictures of his staff without asking) people who spend a bunch of time setting up and taking shots, so, to use his example, the hot and cold elements of a dish designed to highlight that contrast equalize.

                      That's when it seems like it's more about creating memorable pictures than taking photos to recall a memorable meal. In other words, the meal should be memorable for the eating. It's wonderful to be able to share the experience through one's photos, but the process shouldn't upstage the experience of the eating, as some of Achatz's examples seem to imply, in contrast to your own MO (and probably that of most Chowhounds, who I'd assume are firstly about the food).

                      1. re: Caitlin McGrath

                        Yes, you're absolutely right—to read his post and learn that people set up tripods and try to film a working kitchen, one does wonder where people get their chutzpah!

              2. I take a pic of what I cook and will take snapshots of foods I eat at some restaurants. Some of these people go way overboard. Having your wife wait for an hour because you brought the wrong lens? I take a quick pic and eat up :)

                2 Replies
                1. re: dlew308

                  Especially at Alinea. I'm surprised they didn't chuck the both of them out.

                  1. re: buttertart

                    Agreed that that's nuts. You forget your camera or your lens or whatever, you shrug and enjoy yourself (and let those around you enjoy themselves). There are hobbies or even work-related goals or whatever and then there's just life; one hopes one knows the difference.

                2. I write a dining blog, so I take pics. 1000 words and all that. Obviously, food porn is compelling, otherwise 5 jillion sites wouldn't be devoted to it.

                  I do try to be mindful of those around me; I try to be quick and discreet, and, when possible, I seek seating in quieter sections of the dining room. I'm not a pro photographer; no need to dicker around ISO perfection. Just point and click.

                  1. Loved that article. I knew I'm not alone in this.

                    1. A distinguished Chowhound contributor was interviewed for the article (maybe she'll volunteer -I won't out her) and apparently was considered to be insufficiently neurotic to get any ink.

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: Veggo

                        There was someone mentioned who posts pics on Chowhound (noted in one of my posts above). But I can totally understand the person not wanting to out herself as it was her real name that was noted in the article.

                      2. This whole thing just creeps me out. Once in a great while, I've seen a non-professional food pic that tells me something but most of them don't. I've seen pictures of tacos. I mean really. You might have fillings that are unusual but the picture itself? It could have been tongue or goat or anything. A thousand or even a hundred words would have done a far better job. 'Course, I don't bore people with my vacation pictures either. I don't get it and I guess I never will.

                        9 Replies
                        1. re: c oliver

                          Hmm. As someone who would never purchase a cookbook without pretty food pics, I guess I'm in the 'love the food photography' camp, and guilty as well, since I take pics of memorable meals for my blog.

                          Joy of Cooking is the singular exception in my household, but then I hardly ever read the cookbooks anyway. I look at the pics, quickly scan through the ingredients, and then make my own version of the dish. Oh, and take a picture, of course, if it comes out well (and photogenic).

                          1. re: linguafood

                            I guess I got accustomed to no pix with CI's publications. And Hazan's Essentials... is one of my current bibles. I hadn't thought about that. I've figured out over the years that I learn by reading.

                            1. re: c oliver

                              Totally off-track, but, I love Hazan's Essentials (and several other cookbooks without nice full-color photos, such as Pham's Pleasures of the Vietnamese Table or a couple of Penelope Casas' ), but I have taken to calling CI "The Joylessness of Cooking."

                              Someone gave me a subscription to CI about 2 years ago, but I found the mag so depressing, that I called CI and begged them to stop sending me the mag because it seemed unkind to trees.

                              I tried to get them to send the magazine to someone who might like it or apply the cost towards a book or an online subscription, but they would have none of that. Also, they wouldn't refund me the money, only the person who had ordered the subscription for me. But, of course, I didn't want to reveal to her what a spoiled ingrate I am, so I just told CI to keep their money.

                              Perhaps they can pool my money along with the funds from other like-minded individuals who cancelled their subscriptions and hire themselves a nice photographer.


                              1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                Agreed, Casas' Tapas is one of my faves, though there is a small photo section in the center.

                                1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                  "I found the mag so depressing, that I called CI and begged them to stop sending me the mag because it seemed unkind to trees."

                                  Oh my goodness, that is too hilarious to not remark upon. I like pretty pictures, but its lack of them didn't make me dislike CI (other things, however, did).

                                  1. re: Caitlin McGrath

                                    It's not just the lack of photos, but that combined with the very scientific/clinical approach to food that just seems so joyless. When I read the mag, I actually do find interesting and useful things in it, but I never seem to look forward to reading it.


                                    1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                      Yeah, I had the same experience - found interesting and useful things there but never felt inspired. Plus, their sensibility is so limited.

                                      1. re: Caitlin McGrath

                                        That's why I stopped subscribing after a few years. I wasn't learning much. I DO have their Best Recipe and a couple other of their books and will go to for a basic recipe that I've never cooked before.

                                  2. re: The Dairy Queen

                                    You're right and I'd never thought of it. It's not very "happy," is it? 'Course, how could it be since most of it talks about what went wrong :) Funny, TDQ.

                            2. Sounds like the amateur equivalent of those nutjobs Anthony Bourdain interviewed on his show:

                              1. We were in Yountville, CA a couple of years back, and during dinner noticed a man taking pictures (many, many pictures) of his food as it came out. We were sort of amused, but didnt' think about it too much. Heck, I sometimes take pictures for COTM here on Chowhound. But the next morning during breakfast at our hotel, he was doing the same thing with the buffet. I thought that was pushing it a bit (but was still amused, maybe because the breakfast came with champagne!).