My friend Beth sent me a New York Times article called “First Camera, Then Fork” about the growing popularity of photographing the food we eat and posting it online for others to see. I was at first amused by these lines:
Photographing meals becomes pathological, however, if it interferes with careers or relationships or there’s anxiety associated with not doing it. “I’d have to ask if they would feel O.K. if they didn’t do it,” said Tracy Foose, a psychiatrist at the University of California, San Francisco, who treats patients with obsessive-compulsive disorders. “Could they resist the urge to do it?”
But then I realized that I actually do sometimes have problems resisting my urge to take pictures of all my meals. I’ll be dining with friends in Ohio, and I’ll see the way the light’s hitting the ketchup on my friend Katie’s daughter’s chicken nuggets just right, and I’ll be dying to ask to photograph it, but then I’ll stop myself and remember that I’m in a Dairy Queen and that normal people do not whip out their cameras in fast food chains.
The worst is that I also feel compelled to ask my friends to take pictures of their own food for me when we’re at dinner and they’re too far across the table for me to get a good shot. I was at The River Café with two friends recently, one of whom shares my photography aesthetic, and one of whom doesn’t. They both took photos of their dishes for me and then showed me the results, one of which was exactly the shot I would’ve taken, and one that was too far from the plate for me. Knowing that I wouldn’t like it, the first friend asked if I wanted her to re-take the second friend’s picture, and of course I did, and of course the second friend was sooooo offended. I didn’t mean it to be offensive, of course, but a good friend would’ve said, “No, the picture she took is perfect, and I’m happy to have a camera full of different styles of photography.”
But I couldn’t say that, because I have problems.