Walk into any food establishment, whether it be a supermarket, cafe, or fancy restaurant, and you’re guaranteed to find someone snapping away with their smartphone, hovering over their subject of interest, hoping to capture the deliciousness in the most appealing way possible.
A minute or two later, their latte art design or their intricate plate of foie gras is up on their Instagram page for the whole world to see. Back where I’m from, this is a common sight; in fact, people say that food photography is “such an Asian thing.”
As a food enthusiast, I can tell you why I enjoy taking pictures of my food, and why I think there’s absolutely nothing wrong with sharing photos of what I’m eating right now to Instagram. Hopefully, by the end of this post, you’ll find your mouth watering and craving for some delicious food.
1. It can make your food taste better
A study by the University of Minnesota and the Harvard Business School found that diners who engaged in some form of ritualistic behavior before eating enjoyed their meal more, as opposed to those who did not.
Taking a picture of my dish has become a habit of mine, especially when it’s arranged in an artful manner or if it’s something that I’ve successfully cooked and want to share to the world.
2. It can reveal details about your dish that you can’t see with the naked eye
This is where my love for food and photography blend in perfectly. With a good camera and the ideal lighting, with one snap I can capture the beauty of my meal.
The crisp texture of the breadcrumbs on top of my mac and cheese, the slightest bit of oil that drips from the duck confit, and the reflection of light that shines onto the smooth surface of the tomatoes—all these vivid descriptions are sure to make your mouth water.
Here’s a food photographer’s tip: natural lighting is the best environment to take beautiful food photographs, as it makes the food appear three-dimensional and flawless.
Attempting to use flash in a darker setting will not only make your photographs look flat and yellowed out, but will also annoy your fellow dining patrons. I take a beautiful shot of my pasta and I’ve effectively turned it into more than just something I’ve ordered or prepared myself. I’ve made it into a piece of art.
3. It can help you keep track of what you’re eating
Want to change up your eating habits? Want to see if you’ve been eating too many burgers and not enough veggies and quinoa? Instead of keeping a food journal that you’ll have to remember to update every time you eat or drink something, why not take a pictures of your food?
This not only saves time, but also adds a little element of fun into that diet regimen that you absolutely dread. Make yourself crave for that kale Caesar salad by snapping a quality photograph.
4. It serves as a souvenir for a particularly memorable meal
Most of us can’t afford to eat at high-end restaurants with Michelin stars, caviar, and endless lists of imported wine and cheese on a regular basis. On such an occasion where you come across dishes served in a way that you don’t see anywhere else, however, you should take out your camera or smartphone to document your gastronomic experience.
Cotton candy trees with sweets dangling off the ends? Steak sliced off a sword and served onto your place? Various types of cheese served on a cart? Go for it. You’ll have eaten so many times in your life that there’s a pretty big chance you’ll forget that amazing dining experience somewhere in Montreal.
The same applies for when you’ve traveled to all kinds of different places around the world and want to document your food travels, whether it be in Bangkok, Tokyo, or Istanbul. Do keep in mind, however, that there are some high-end restaurants that have banned taking pictures of your food.
5. You can recommend cool places to your friends, family, and followers (and you might even get a reblog)
If you’ve got a strong following on Instagram, you can use the photos that you’ve taken to recommend cool places to your followers. Many restaurant and cafe chains now have a strong presence on social media. Some places, as a way of advertising, even reblog users’ photographs of their product if they’ve been tagged in the photo caption.
6. It allows you to practice mindful eating and delayed gratification
Instead of wolfing your food down right away, take a moment to really appreciate what you’re about to eat.
Inhale the aroma of different spices and ingredients used to make that ramen broth. Take in the slight glistening of the surface of the soup, the crimped texture of the noodles, and the assortment of condiments used to make that bowl of ramen look appetizing.
Observe the murkiness of the broth that had to have taken hours to prepare, only to please your taste buds and leave you sated. And before you dip your chopsticks in and shove in a mouthful of noodles, take a snap of what you’re about to enjoy for the next couple of minutes.
7. It’s another way to share your food with the rest of the world
The most wonderful thing about social media is that it gives us the opportunity to share our lives with the rest of the world, and we often like to use platforms like Twitter and Instagram to give others a sneak preview of what our cultures and traditions back home are like.
Show your followers how different sushi in Japan is from that in the United States, what your national dish looks like, or what kinds of interesting new dishes you’ve picked up during your latest trip. You’ll get an insight to all the cuisines in the world without having to splurge on plane tickets.