Mastering the Art of #FoodPorn

What is food porn I hear you ask? According to Wikipedia the term first appeared in 1984 in Rosalind Coward’s book Female Desire, in which she writes:

Cooking food and presenting it beautifully is an act of servitude. It is a way of expressing affection through a gift… That we should aspire to produce perfectly finished and presented food is a symbol of a willing and enjoyable participation in servicing others. Food pornography exactly sustains these meanings relating to the preparation of food. The kinds of picture used always repress the process of production of a meal. They are always beautifully lit, often touched up.”

In recent years the popularity of the trend has only been heightened with the ever-increasing presence of social media and it is a trend that has been adopted by the hippest of hipsters and anyone with an Instagram or Tumblr account. Some historians would argue that this revival in the phenomenon began with the seductive nature of the Queen of cooking, Nigella Lawson and her pure, unfiltered passion and love of food.

When it comes to food porn, there are some that view it as an art form and as such treat the food with the respect it deserves, highlighting only its most poignant features. On the other hand, there are those that believe that through filters and intricate lighting they can make McDonalds or any other form of fast food look far more appetising than it really is. This is where I come in. I am here to educate you on the do’s and don’ts of food photography so the next time you add the hashtag #foodporn to that photo of your dinner, you can look at the photo and be proud of what you have presented, like a craftsman beaming at his newly constructed table.

DO show the food in all of its glory. Whether that’s something as simple as focusing in on a perfectly placed berry on top of a cheesecake or taking the photo as someone drizzles chocolate from a height over the stack of pancakes.

DON’T misuse the sacred #foodporn hashtag. It is the first and most important rule of the #foodporn club.

DO follow famous foodies and photographers such as Jamie Oliver (@jamieoliver) and Katie Quinn Davies (@whatkatieate) on Instagram and take note of how they present and photograph their food.

DON’T be that person who has to make a production out of it (like my sister). Be discreet, especially if you’re in a restaurant or café and don’t stretch across the table to take a photo of your friend’s meal. Some chefs in New York City recently went all Les Mis on Instragramers and food photographers by revolting against people wanting to take photos of their food and as such have banned photography in their restaurants.

DO be mindful of lighting. Shoot in natural light if possible. Sunlight can be your enemy or your best friend with food photography. It can highlight the food or it can completely obscure it.

DON’T under any circumstance use the flash, especially if you’re in a dimly lit restaurant. It will make the food look unappetising and will most definitely annoy your fellow diners. The idea is that you want people to be salivating over how delicious your food looks rather than have them reaching for the unfollow button or a bucket.

DO use the right apps. While Instagram itself is a great photography tool, there are a number of other free or inexpensive apps that can add to your photos, such as Afterlight ($0.99 from iTunes). If you wanted to show off the ingredients in a dish you’d made then a photo collage app is perfect.

DON’T be like the scientist from NASA who reportedly annoyed his family for many years by taking photos of everything he ate and then sent the photos to his family and friends as a PowerPoint. Be selective in what you photograph. Choose the beautifully decorated cake over the half eaten packet of Jatz crackers and dip.

DO use the best angle when taking the photo. For food photography, the best angle seems to be overhead. This can be problematic with shadows but if you get it right it can really show off how good the food looks.

DON’T be fooled into thinking you’re a real photographer. Instagram pretty much does all of the work for you. You don’t have to adjust the focus or worry about the lighting settings. Just because you know how to take some okay photos with your phone, it doesn’t make you the next Ansel Adams or Annie Liebovitz.

So now that you have a few helpful hints under your belt, go forth and capture every meal you consume.

Just don’t share them all with the whole world.


Photos courtesy of Instagram users amandasvebergviciousviivikalle_perssonblackandwhiteposts_,b3thlouise [2], dragonberryboutiqueshudabeauty and jamieoliver.
Memes sourced from here and here.
Other photos 1 2 3 4

Original article can be found here


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