Food, Link Ups, Uncategorized

What’s On My Plate: A Divisive Issue

Recently, there has been much online debate over the flood of personal food pics on social media. This caused me some reflection.

As my long-suffering husband will gladly confirm, I take heaps of food photos. Once when it was suggested he keep a food diary to deal with a potential allergy, he said, “I don’t need to. Everything that I eat is on Donna’s camera roll.” Ouch!

While I confess to being slightly addicted to food photography, I seldom keep these photos for long. Nor do the majority of them appear on my social media feeds. I experiment with the shots, grab what I need for my blog, then delete (most of) the rest.

Here are the food-related shots that are on my current camera roll. Each of them had the potential to set the topic for this edition of #What’sOnYourPlateBlogChallenge.

Current Camera Roll

Forgoing the above topics, I decided to focus on my interest in food photography. This passion originally stemmed from blogging. If I was going to include food photos on my blog, I wanted to learn to do this better.

I tried to compare my food photos throughout the years. I wish that I had saved more of them. As a great friend recently said, “People and food — that’s how memories are made.” I completely agree!

Some Food-Related Photos that Survived

I hear you arguing that many of these photos are not pure Food Photography. People do tend to dominate my photos, especially my earlier ones. As these are personal photos, they each conjure a taste, smell and emotion for me. When Richard walked past my screen, he said, “What I wouldn’t do to taste that BBQ’d Thai Corn Again!” Including a human element in photos offers viewers a way to connect with the image. It also also adds depth, dynamism, and visual appeal (source).

What Makes a Good Food Photo?

Apicius, the 1st Century Roman gourmand, stated, “We eat with our eyes first.”
Here are some suggestions repeatedly appearing in food photography literature that have been helpful to me.

º Plate carefully and creatively.
º Compose your image to tell a story.
º Try different forms of lighting. When in doubt go for soft natural light.
º Light/shoot from the side, not the front.
º Experiment with different heights (both for food placement and camera angle).
º Don’t be afraid to add props, but ensure they are not cluttering or stealing the show.
º A photo with contrasting colours is usually more eye-catching.
º Allow negative space (it is soothing on the eyes and mind).
º Think like an artist.
º Edit to sharpen and provide contrast (but don’t overdo it).

Love It or Hate It?

Where do you stand on the food photography issue? Love it? Hate it? Or don’t care either way? What suggestions would you add to the above photography tips?

Thank you for joining Deb and me at What’s On Your Plate. We’d love to hear from you in the comments here, at TheWidowBadassBlog, through InLinkz (or all three). Greedy, we know!

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83 thoughts on “What’s On My Plate: A Divisive Issue”

  1. I always enjoy seeing photos of food. It gives me ideas and food is usually associated with enjoying life – food brings family and friends together so why not food photography? My opinion is if you don’t like what you see just scroll on by. Thanks for the tips on photography as well Donna, I’m still a novice in that area. I also think that photos of a meal you have enjoyed can bring back lovely memories of travel and other special occasions. Thanks for What’s On Your Plate? I actually made it this month. xx

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi, Sue – Thank you so much for making the extra effort to join #WOYP this month. I know that you have lots going on for you, so I greatly appreciate you taking the time to join in. I agree with you Food + People = Enjoying life and Fond Memories. I also agree that when something doesn’t appeal online, we can simply keep on scrolling!

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  2. This is great Donna, but I have to say I must have missed the online debate over food pics on social media! I’m here for any food pics and they always look so much better than I could ever make, they inspire me. I like people in photos full-stop, whether food is involved or not, people always get my vote in a photo, as they add a different perspective and personality to a photo. That one of you eating corn is wonderful, you looks so happy and in the moment! I too take photos of food I eat but rarely do much with them afterwards as I don’t consider myself a foodie in any way shape or form and not ‘authorised’ to share! Memories is what it’s all about to me and you’ve shared some lovely one with us here. Thank you!

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  3. I will confess here and now that I find food photography a huge yawn. I just don’t get it…..food is for eating, not for taking snazzy pics of. But I get that people who are more “foodie” than me like to share their plates with others. Give me a photo with people in it any day – that goes for food, scenery, events – whatever – it’s the people who interest me and make the photo (like you and the corncob!) xx

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    1. Hi, Leanne – I get that food photos are not for everyone — especially when there are a flood of them. But for me, that goes for everything. Too many pics of gardens, flowers, cute puppies or cats can overwhelm and lose their original effect. Like you, people in a photos usually get my vote.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Hi Donna – I love seeing photos of food and have always had an interest in recipe books with interesting photos and some history etc etc. Recently I’ve bought a few from the Migration Museum here in London … from Refugees in camps … remembering their home foods, adapted as necessary to the camp situation. I’ve also bought books from Ukrainian cookery writers, where they’ve explored Asia … one learns so much. And as you know – Diana Kennedy and her Mexican cuisine historical records about their way of life … love seeing your photos – and yes that corn on the cob looks positively delicious. Cheers Hilary

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Hi, Hilary – I always appreciate your insightful comments. I confess, cookbooks without photos are not for me. I am inspired by the cookbooks coming out of Refugee Camps. Food is such an important pathway to culture. I will definitely take a look out for some of these books.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. I take quite a few pictures of food. Often, when we traveled I took pictures of what we were eating because it was beautiful, or so different than what we had at home. Then…when I AM home, I take pictures of things I’m cooking because I think the colors are beautiful, or it’s some new fancy something or other that I probably won’t make again. Mostly I take pictures of food if I think it looks beautiful. My husband sighs a lot.

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    1. Hi, Dawne – Your comment is also 100% true for me – including the sighing husband. Although I must share that Richard initiated and took the last two photos on my camera roll. If you can’t beat them, join them. BTW – I have tried unsuccessfully to sign up for your blog (I always forget to check any blog without a prompt). I am off to try again!

      Liked by 1 person

  6. I fully agree with Apicius – we eat with our eyes first. I also take food photos, my own or at a restaurant or elsewhere if it appeals. There’s a story of the maitre’d who approached the table where the 2 diners were, and asked if everything was alright? They assured him that all was fine. He said he had to ask because they were not taking photos! Love your photos Donna!

    Liked by 1 person

  7. I never photographed food until I started posting recipes on my blog. My pictures are definitely amateurish and I’d love to become better at taking good food pictures. But for now, what I take will suffice as I think it’s essential to include a picture with my recipes.

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  8. “Food is never just food. It’s also a way of getting at something else: who we are, where we have been and who we want to be.” from Orangette blog
    I am not a picture taker but I am a cook and an eater. I enjoy food in all its glory from the gathering to the prep to the serving to the eating.
    It’s tied to the seasons, like the corn chowder made yesterday with the corn from the garden.
    It reflects my frugality and pragmatism in using what’s available. It connects me to my heritage (colcannon) and my ancestors (coconut macaroons, maple walnut fudge). Growing up, we were the “original” organic farmers – if we didn’t grow it, pick it or kill it, we didn’t eat.
    It saddens me to think that ~30% of food is wasted when there are hungry people. It angers me to think that hunger is political.
    Eat to live or live to eat? Both.

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  9. I’m out of touch, what’s the debate? Too much food pictures on social media? All I can say is that compared to all the other things, it’s benign and harmless. It’s easy to just move on and look at something else, yes?

    Another food photography tip is to use natural sunlight whenever you can. Sometimes it means putting the plate on the floor to capture that sunny spot by the window. This is what I did for my post & I was pleasantly surprised at the result.

    Love your photo’s Donna & I’m totally with you that the best food memories involve the people you shared them with.

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    1. Thanks, Carol Ann – I love seing artistic photos of many bright, positive things. Great food photos have often motivated me to try something new. I say, ahead and give it a try. Although I must warn you, food photography can honestly become addictive!

      Liked by 1 person

  10. I guess I missed the debate, but I’ll jump in… I picked “It’s fine in moderation” but I also think the pictures should be relevant to the subject. I love food photos when they add to the How-To of a recipe and what the results look like. “I went out to dinner and here’s my plate of food” posts… not so much. People I care about breaking bread together – yes!

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  11. I don’t have to comment now that Janis has given the perfect response, but of course I will. So what else is there to say but: I’ll have what she’s having 😉.
    Great post, Donna! Love the pics and the subject matter!

    Deb

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      1. To access the recipes on Smittenkitten in instagram you have to click through about 5 things. First the link in instagram SK profile then click the link to SK instagram account then click on the photo of the dish then open it in safari then jump to the actual recipe so you can print it out. Still with me.? Instagram is a 🐶. I gave up on printing the recipes but I enjoy the eye candy

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  12. Well, you know what my answer will be! I am that person who loves to take photos of my food – they may not be great photos, but… I tend not to have people in them – especially if I’m sharing on socials – but do like to have hands or chopsticks or whatever reaching across.

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  13. In all areas of life, I operate by the principle of “to each their own.” If people want to photograph food or any other thing for that matter, that’s their business. I don’t judge anyone because what right do I have to tell someone it’s too much?

    I rarely have taken a photo of my food because I don’t find it that interesting. If I had a hand in making it, that would make more sense to me. I don’t ever recall taking a picture of food in a restaurant. I’m much more likely to take photos of the people I ate with than the food itself.

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  14. Gosh it’s amazing how different topics can have such wide ranging affects on people.
    I am like you in that I take lots of photos of my food to share on my blog and social media but delete most of them once I’ve finished with them. I love food and find seeing photos of any food interesting and inspiring. I have to confess the rest of my family don’t understand my obsession with food photos but so what! Anyone who doesn’t like it can scroll on by in my opinion. They don’t have to look at them. I loved your tips on food photography. Thanks for sharing

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      1. Haha – in fairness I think my two older sons have taken photos of their food to share with me and their friends so you are probably right

        Liked by 1 person

  15. I’ve no real opinion about food photos. I talked about this topic on my blog a few years ago– and found out, like you, many people don’t like them. My mother certainly didn’t like ’em, so in a way I feel like I’m rebelling when I snap a pic of food or drink.

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    1. Thanks, Ally – It’s an interesting topic – with tons of different points of view. I just checked the survey results. So far, 79% of responders were pro food photos, 17% were against and 4% were neutral. Then again, my blog is mostly commented on by other bloggers so any researcher worth his/her salt would point out a HUGE bias! 😀

      Liked by 1 person

  16. Hi Donna, I enjoyed reading your post and food photos. I take food photos when I eat out occasionally or when I travel and eat unique dishes at the destination. In general, food photos are low on my list of photo preferences.

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    1. Hi, Natalie – Thanks so much for stopping by. I get that food photos are not for everyone (and I try to behave myself when dining with a larger group). 😀 Like you, I do take more food photos when I am travelling and eating out. My trip to PEI this past May was a great example of this. So many well-plated dishes that were delicious and photo-worthy!

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  17. I am so happy I found your blog via Marsha at Always Write. As a person with multiple chronic diseases, I am always, always, always inspired by “healthy food” discussions. I credit change in diet and exercise with saving my life when one of those “chronic diseases” threatened to turn deadly. Looking forward to reading more of your posts and may I say, you are a fabulous food photographer. 🙂

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    1. PS, the things I miss the most about China are hot pot and pumpkin. I adore roasted pumpkin and it’s so hard to find in the us, our pumpkins seem to be either too sweet or too bland. ;-p oooh and frogs and fungus, and well-aged oolong and squid I have to stop now I’m getting hungry lol

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      1. It’s so funny, it was a specialty at a restaurant we visited in Jiajiang province. Upon a return trip a couple years later, when asked if there was anything special I wanted, I requested frog and fungus. The server confided to our liason (aka interpreter) that I was the only “white person” she had ever met who had eaten or enjoyed it. It has a heavy heated spice in the sauce which is probably what got me through. Don’t ask about Shangahai Hairy Crab though … *insert shudder* 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

  18. What a hot topic! I used to take food pics but more related to the social setting where I was. Sadly, because of my mouth reconstruction so much about food and eating is no longer easy. I have to “eyeball” a food that I don’t prepare to see if I could try it. It’s a also now, for me and husband, about serving sizes. As we have reached our 70s we want far less on our plates. I admit I do scroll quickly through some food posts but there are others, I am looking at Jo Tracey’s where I get hungry and would just like a bite! Just one. Denyse

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  19. Hello
    This was a fun post – especially by the time I got to your husband walking by and remembering the BBQ taste – mmmmm – it reminded me that some food photos have so much value
    – and I liked the people included in each photo and feel like those photos are way better than food by itself – because we get the hijab touch and so much more

    Lastly – thanks for listing the tips – it was nice to read them

    Like

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