Tuesday, 23 May 2017

6. Taking Pictures of Food

There are people on Instagram who have so many followers, they get paid to take pictures of food. And good for them, I suppose. 

Okay, they're not exactly furthering humanity, but who is these days? (I have a friend who’s a neuroscientist, so I suppose she's a fair example, but I try not to think about her). There are also people who take pictures of food for Slimming World/Weight Watchers/insert the dieting organisation of your choice. There is an online community who finds that sort of thing useful and I'm not going to say that’s wrong. But, what about everyone else? 

What on earth are they doing, leaning over the table, annoying their companions? At first, I put taking pictures of food into the same box as selfies – the box labelled “heinous developments of the early 21st century”. But now, I’m not too sure. I can understand selfies because 99% of us are extremely vain and self-centred and we enjoy looking at our own faces/hot-dog legs/whatever body part the kids snap these days. 

But food? Pictures of food? If I keep saying it, will it make sense? Apparently not, because I say it a lot. Very occasionally, I see a picture of food and think it’s worth looking at. Perhaps you went to a Michelin starred restaurant and the plate is akin to something hung up in the Tate – I’m very slightly not bored by looking at that (although, let’s be clear, I could live without it). But your toast? Your avocado? Your smoothie, the palid colour of grouting paste? 

Once upon a desperate summer, I worked in a sweet shop. Every day a poor, anorexic girl, used to come in and stare at the sweets, knowing she’d never eat them. Have we all become sweet-starers, gorging ourselves on photos of foods we’ll never know? Do we flick through food-porn and lust after exquisitely-iced doughnuts, as illicit as a threesome in a parking lot. Is food better than sex? 

I digress. 

Perhaps it’s just plain old-fashioned showing off. The avo post tells me you’re healthy, the cocoa nibs tell me you're on-trend (I miss the days when blueberries were on-trend, it was a simpler time). The fusion hot-dog in a plastic tray tells me you go to pop-ups and have more fun than me. It's just an extension of all that social media is - a desire to have others care about what you do and, it seems, what you eat.

If Instagram was a personal depository of photos that no one else would ever see, would anyone take pictures of their food? I doubt it. My family have plenty of photo albums stuffed in a cupboard, but as far as I'm aware none of them contain pictures of the brunches my father ate in 1996. Or perhaps we simply have nothing better to do these days. After all, if you take pictures of food you can claim eating as a hobby, right?

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