Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Food Photography - Hobby or Compulsion?

The New York Times looks at people who photograph everything (or nearly everything) they eat... from a bowl of cheerios to a five course meal. Obviously, this one hits a little close to home, since I like taking pictures of my food... to the point that I got a DSLR so I might take better pictures... but I lean towards wanting to take pictures of things I make, more than everything I consume (though one of the guys who does this uses it as a diet tool, which is interesting). Even with the relative unobtrusiveness of a camera phone, I find taking picture while dining to be a bit distracting... only doing it when the presentation is just too pretty to resist... though I do have to wonder how much of that is due to the fact that in a few short months I've already become a camera snob, and feel a bit dirty if I take a picture with my Droid.

What surprises me the most is how much we seem to be interested in what other people are eating/cooking. Why is that? I suppose it's not much different than looking at random photos of places you haven't been, but for some reason it feels weirder. Regardless, I'm glad people do it, since I like looking at the pictures... but it does seem that a few might need to reign it in:
Photographing meals becomes pathological, however, if it interferes with careers or relationships or there’s anxiety associated with not doing it. “I’d have to ask if they would feel O.K. if they didn’t do it,” said Tracy Foose, a psychiatrist at the University of California, San Francisco, who treats patients with obsessive-compulsive disorders. “Could they resist the urge to do it?”

Joe Catterson, the general manager of Alinea restaurant in Chicago, said that, increasingly, people can’t. “One guy arrived with the wrong lens or something on his camera and left his wife sitting at the table for an hour while he went home to get it,” he said.

Sometimes you gotta put the camera down and just enjoy your meal.