Why I Take Photos At Restaurants

Why I Take Photos At Restaurants

If you didn’t take a picture, did it really happen?

Next to me, people are staring. When I turn to look at them, they quickly look away, hiding their faces behind their paper menus. My friend sitting across the table from me rolls her eyes, then looks at me for direction.

“Can you get a chopstick full of the noodles and lift it from the bowl?” I ask her.

She stares at the bowl of ramen in front of her before dunking her chopsticks and strategically lifting it from the bowl. I grab my digital camera and take a few pictures from the side. Then, I stand up from my seat and take some aerial shots of the food. I hear the same people next to me laughing as I take my last few shots. I smile — I’m used to this reaction.

“Can we eat now?” my friend asks me, rubbing her stomach dramatically.

I nod, and we dig into our respective bowls of noodles. I’ve been taking pictures of my food for about 2 years to document on my Instagram. I’m not alone in this stereotypical millennial behavior. Eating has become incredibly experiential and has attracted amateur and professional photographers alike to share their everyday meals. When this article was written, there were  200,403,293 posts on Instagram for #food and 108,152,118 posts for #foodporn on Instagram, and this number grows every second with posts coming in from around the world.

All this food posting has led to the rise of successful food Instagrammers — people actually make money from eating and sharing pictures of their food. Restaurants and companies often sponsor these Insta-celebrities to promote their products. Opinions are mixed as to whether whether all this sharing of food pictures drives innovation or inhibits it in the restaurant industry. One argument is that chefs and business owners want their dishes to be well-photographed, so they feel the pressure to make foods that are more “trendy” to attract more customers rather than their own individual creation. On the other hand, people are more interested in food than ever before, and that drives people to restaurants and to try new things.

If Food Network made watching people cook cool, Instagram has helped make watching people eat cool. I’m of the school of thought that Instagram is actually a benefit for the restaurant industry. When you live in New York, going to a restaurant together is a method of socializing — catching up over brunch is extremely common, which is evident from the hour long waits at some of the more popular restaurants. My friends and I (self-proclaimed foodies) are excited whenever a new restaurant opens or when there’s an event happening at a restaurant. We often hear about this news from social media and immediately make plans to go. I actually remember conversations and events based on where and what I was eating — all well documented thanks to my “obnoxious” photo taking.

So the next time you see someone taking photos of their food in a restaurant, recording their experience to share with others, don’t judge them (too hard).

This post was originally written for BrUNch Magazine.

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