Food Photos: Why we share; why we look.

If, as Socrates said, the unexamined life is not worth living, what does that mean for the unexamined meal?

Every meal, snack, sip, and chew…
We photograph, document, catalog, upload, tweet, and post.
Online food photos can be delectably compelling or hypnotically dull, and most are, in turn, some of each.

The interactive agency 360i examined the impulse to share our meals, and found that we are most often motivated by nothing more than gustatory navel gazing. Some people find that they become more adventurous eaters as they seek to jazz up the meals they share online; some find that it can keep them honest on a diet; but mostly it comes from a simple desire to share the routine, mundane activities of our lives.

The special occasion meal is also high on the list.
We photograph our food when we gather with friends, when we travel, when it’s a holiday, or when we finally got a reservation at the hottest new restaurant.

Then there are the exhibitionists.
They document food lust-inducing creations in the way others make sex tapes. The food porn-pushers bring us into their kitchens to follow every step in lingering, loving, color-saturated, hyper-idealized detail—the same visual language and techniques as the x-rated variety. Glistening jam-glazed pears might substitute for a gym-toned body, but it’s the same ego-driven desire to put their own fabulousness on display.

Is it bad form?
The food arrives at the table and the cameras come out before forks. Restaurateurs are conflicted. Of course they appreciate the exposure provided by diners who blog, but flash photography annoys the other customers. Some restaurants are now offering dedicated food blogger dinners complete with backdrops and light boxes right in the dining room.

Nearly 100 billion photographs have been uploaded across various social platforms, with food photos grabbing an ever-expanding share. Food photography can be provocative, social validating, or just plain tedious, but it’s here to stay.

You can download the full report Online Food & Photo Sharing Trends from the 360i website.


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