Do people even say Grace anymore? Any sort of blessing? Do we give thanks or acknowledgement for our good fortune to be having such a beautiful and/or delicious meal outside of Christmas Day?
In what ways do we give thanks? In some Michelin star restaurants you can call the chef over to your table or the chef will make the round during your meal to come talk to you. But honestly, most of us can’t afford to eat in places like these. At least not regularly anyway.
So why do we give people who take photos of their food at restaurants such a hard time? The hate across social media is strong… Hipsters, Foodies, whatever, get abused whether they post on Urbanspoon, Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, or Tumblr. They’re not the only ones. I do it. Then there are the memes. Just as popular amongst the haters as the comments.
A photo memory of a meal that will either be delicious or beautifully made is probably one of the highest compliments you could pay a cook. I know I would be honored if someone took a photo of something I cooked when I worked in a kitchen, but those were the early 2000’s. There was no Instagram and I would hope people have better taste than Instagramming a side order of onion rings. For the cook themselves, isn’t it okay to have a little pride in your work (Unless you end up with a ‘struggle plate‘)? Wouldn’t it be great if we all had work that was worthy of sharing?
Of course there is a line needed to stop it going too far. The Chive’s 22-count photo compilation post titled “Pictures of hipsters taking pictures of food” shows when that line is crossed. It’s a little silly, maybe even off-putting watching people whip out their cameras – whether it’s a DSLR, point and snap, or iPhone – and capture a photo of the meal that was placed in front of them merely seconds before. Photographers go to some interesting if not comical lengths to capture an interesting shot. Not everyone who takes photographs of their food is a professional critic, or even a blogger. But, two things everyone who photographs food does have in common is that they, along with every living being on this planet, needs food to survive, and that they, unlike most beings on this planet, have found an appreciation for culinary craft.
Like social media, food connects us. It grounds us to our geographical roots, allows us to travel through receipes, and creates community around a shared experience. Food allows for expression, and artistic creativity. Some people prefer paint brushes, others prefer a pantry full of ingredients and a set of chef’s knives. No one bats an eye when tourists at the National Museum snap a sub-par shot of a priceless painting to share online with their friends and family. That may be the only time they’ll have the opportunity of appreciating the painting in person. But that photo, may move someone too. That photo might convince others they need to go see it for themselves. That photo may start a conversation about art and encourage the sharing of opinions and interpretations. Art after all is subjective. And, to us, food IS art.
And maybe the sharing comes with so much quality, it inspires efforts to reproduce it? Is not imitation the most sincere form of flattery? Photos are a declaration of an event worthy of being remembered. Sharing them means you thought it was great enough to tell the world about for whatever reason. So take a second and snap a photo if the situation calls for it.
It’s not like taking photos of food is new to Instagram anyway. Go back and look at some of your pre-internet holiday photos. I’m willing to bet there’s at least one photo of a meal in there somewhere, even if it wasn’t really worth sharing if you had a mass social network for photos at the time. You still reveled in it.