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Jun 1, 2014 11:04 PM

Why do people find it so strange to take photos of your food?

I've wondered this for some time now.

I often see people saying things on social media like "Please don't blow up my news feed with pictures of your food." I've seen jokes made about it on dating sites. In newspaper and magazine articles.

I totally understand not wanting to be in a nice restaurant with flashes going off and ruining the ambiance.

But what's so off-putting or bizarre about wanting to memorialize memorable meals?

Tonight for my boyfriend's birthday, I took a photo of the spread before everyone dug in. It was a casual home cooked meal amongst friends. My boyfriend gets it, and he'll often take a photo of the dinners/desserts I serve him. But our friends took pause and looked at me with this almost startled expression, as in "Why are you doing that?"


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  1. <But what's so off-putting or bizarre about wanting to memorialize memorable meals?>

    Funny you said that because there were studies done which demonstrated that photo-taking ruins memory: "photo-taking-impairment effect"

    You remember less when you take a photo of an object

    Better yet, here is a NPR audio interview:

    2 Replies
    1. re: Chemicalkinetics

      Good stuff, Ck. I am fascinated with the notion and feel like I've seen it play out over the years, but much more lately. The whole thing makes me think of the idiots who go to concerts and spend the entire show watching their cellphone screens (there's a word for it, but it escapes me at present). Used to be only a couple of 'em, but lately, if you look from the back of the arena, the number of lit screens held aloft looks like a field of digital dandelions.

      As to people taking photos of their food, I am at a point where I approach it like people taking pics of their kids. Go for it, if you must, but don't ask me to look at more than one and keep any explanation to less than a dozen words.

      Personally, I prefer recollections shared with the poetry of a well-crafted yarn, gently gilded with each retelling. I've got a hunch that the tale of Beowolf is much more enjoyable than his head shot.

      1. re: Chemicalkinetics

        I'm a bit opposite of that theory. The photo makes me smile as it triggers the memory of the occasion.

        However, having said that, I have only taken a few photos of food over the years. I am very anal when it comes to taking photographs. I regard them all as art, and if I am not inspired, I do not take the shot. Some people will take snaps of everything.

      2. I think you answered why it is (to me anyway), 'home cooked meal'. I can understand why and have taken pictures of many christmas and birthday dinners etc where you want to remember the love that a friend or family member put into a meal. A restaurant...I don't get other then if you want to remember the presentation to copy. I can see if there is a person in the picture or something unique about the meal but it just seems over done. or Maybe I need to have more spectacular dinners out.

        1. I don't think it's a problem with wanting to memorialise the dish; I think it's more the act of then putting the photo on social media. If I was at your boyfriend's birthday meal, it wouldn't have bothered me in the slightest that you took photos (and it's really none of my business if you want to do that), but if I saw photos of your boyfriend's birthday meal on my FB timeline, I'd inwardly sigh -- partly because food photos being shown to people who weren't at the meal are the equivalent of the YouTube "Ultimate Dog Tease" video, but mainly because unless you're a professional food photographer, even a gourmet dish often ends up looking like roadkill...

          1. Because most peoples' photos of their food make it look like a pile of crap. Very unappetizing. Also, to me at least, it's a form of bragging and that turns me off.

            5 Replies
            1. re: ttoommyy

              Really? I would think that if you are interested in food, as everyone here is, you would love it. (You in general, not singling out ttoommyy).

              I love looking at recipes with pictures or pictures of someone's meal. My family has always taken pictures of food. We take pictures of every cake for every occasion and food at holidays.

              There is a thread on the Disboards solely for the purpose of Dining trip reports. Not attractions, just food. Pictures and all. Very popular.

              1. re: Jerseygirl111

                I am genuinely into food. I am on CH all the time. I talk about food constantly with my husband.

                I just attended one of the finest dinner parties I have ever been to this weekend at a friend's place. I didn't take one picture (though others did). I just am not into pictures of food. Whenever their is a restaurant report on CH that interests me, I never look at the pictures. They do nothing for me.

                Recipes with pictures? That's a different story. Those are instructional and I look for those.

                1. re: Jerseygirl111

                  I don't think your post really addressed his concern of most peoples food looking like crap.

                    1. re: EatFoodGetMoney

                      True. I also chose not to address the bragging comment. I was just addressing the general sentiment of the thread and pointed out I was not singling out ttoommyy.

                      Thanks for reading!

                2. Its because its moved beyond memorializing memorable meals to memorializing the mundane and banal. If the most banal of meals is worth posting on every social network site, why bother memorializing anything? If everything is memorable, then nothing truly is. Put your camera down, eat your meal, talk to your friends, enjoy yourself. Create the memorable experience. Not pictures of food.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: Bkeats

                    I can take my camera out, snap a pic and put it away in about ten seconds. Doesn't distract from the meal.