Overabundance: Taking Photos of Our Food

A couple of months ago there seemed to be a mini-backlash against us amateur mobile food photo junkies taking pics of our meals. This wasn’t just at your classy carpaccio-serving joints (pictured at the left), it even happened at a McDonalds!

But it was a backlash against providing a hungry audience with a steady stream of “food porn” that never really went anywhere, for which I’m pretty happy about. I’m taking a much needed break from crazy-busy self-employment (doing 6 weeks work in 4) to take a road trip around the Gulf Coast, New Orleans and then up to Austin, Texas. I intend to take plenty of food photos along the way. (Follow me on Instagram if you like food and road trips!)

Prior to the mini-anti-food-photo revolution-that-wasn’t, I had already been questioning my need to take pictures of my food. Was it caused by some childhood Christina Crawford clean-your-plate edict now manifesting in I’m an adult with a camera inside my phone rebelliousness? A need to document eating at some really good restaurants? (But then how do you explain 45 shots of some nachos made at home?) Or just finding food beautiful, like others gorge on landscapes, flowers or babies (or babes)?

I’m guessing that when it comes to taking photos of your food there is no right or wrong (unless your flash is going off in someone’s face while they’re trying to eat). It most definitely can be annoying, not only to the diner who is being harassed by your flash, but also to your dining companions, especially when you won’t let them touch their food until you’re finished with your photo essay. (The carpaccio shown above was not mine.)

Yet taking photos of our food has become a part of our online culture. Like the shopper on his cell phone at the supermarket, the baby with an iPad, the noncommittal responses we get (and give) via a text message or to a Facebook invite rather than just saying “No.” In the case of taking photos of your food however, someone can actually benefit from this annoying behavior. The restaurants. After all, your photo of their food on Yelp! or FourSquare is free advertising. Even an empty plate can speak volumes.

Will Social Media Win the Australian Federal Election?


Social media surely wins elections in the US. Barack Obama is two for two on the back of Twitter, Facebook and Instagram (well, Instagram was a new addition to the Obama campaign’s 2012 arsenal).

But can it do the same in a country of 22 million, where voting is compulsory?

Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard (think Obama) is campaigning to hold onto her seat against the leader of the opposition Tony Abbott (think George W. Bush). But the similarities don’t end there. Many Australians do not like Gillard, for reasons they find hard to articulate, fairly similar to the Obama haters. Deep-seated prejudice is most likely at the core of both groups (anti-women, anti-black), but in the 21st century it is terribly uncool to be either of those things.

Enter social media to help us sort it out. While Americans got reality broken down for us with a series of memes that showed Obama as a forward-thinking progressive (he supports public television, women’s rights and understands you’ll never achieve world peace with militia riding roughshod on horseback), Australians are a bit more of a direct lot.

Witness the tweet making the rounds that spells it out for Aussie voters, who by the way, if they don’t like what’s on their plate can vote for third-party candidates or simply mark their ballots with an “X”. As long as you show up and be counted.

The election is five months away. Which gives this campaign a distinctly American feel as far as endurance goes. Australians are used to much shorter election cycles and will have to eat their spinach to keep up with this one.

For a more thoughtful look at the campaign (so far) and the accomplishments of Gillard, Australia’s first female prime minister, read “A Fair Go for Prime Minister Julia Gillard.” For something on the lighter side, visit the Tumblr blog “Julia Gillard’s Shoe.”