Addicted to Food Photography
April 9th, 2010 by plumpdumpling

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.

4 Responses  
  • Bachelor Girl writes:
    April 12th, 20101:25 amat

    See, and I have a totally different problem: I can never remember to take photos before I’ve scarfed half my food like the piggie I am.

    • plumpdumpling writes:
      April 27th, 20103:57 pmat

      What we should do is order the same thing everywhere we go. That way we can share yours while it’s still hot and delicious and save mine for photographing later.

      I’m not sure how you benefit from this, and I’m sorry.

  • Alfagirl writes:
    May 21st, 20106:55 amat

    I wonder who you’re talking about in this post? :P

    I know J likes to take photos of herself, but I didn’t know she also liked taking photos of food.

    So, is it considered a problem then if your compulsion not only applies to your own plate but to others’ meals as well? When you go out with Kamran do you photograph his food along with your own and write about both usually, or do you just describe it?

    • plumpdumpling writes:
      May 25th, 201012:35 pmat

      I don’t think she does take pictures of food, actually; I think she just stalks me enough to know how my photos usually look.

      I like to take pictures of everything at the table. Kamran and I do a lot of tasting menus where we’re both getting the same thing, in which case I only photograph my own food (unless his looks particularly better), but if there are different dishes on the table, I’m photographing them. I even photograph the food of the friend of his from work who goes out with us. No one seems to have a problem with just having their food photographed, so clearly the problem is only when I mock someone’s photography skills.

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