I mentioned it before, but I specifically picked a thesis topic that related to my internship at a food company. I originally wanted to examine the impact of photos on society, since social media is becoming more visual. So what better way than to look at food photos, also known as foodtography, the phenomenon of people posting photos of their food?
The topic is personal, as a self-proclaimed foodie. I noticed that I posted more foodtography when I was abroad versus being home. At home, I took food photos for work to share publicly, but when it came to sharing with friends in Europe, I often chose to do it privately. Based off of my own habits and a quick scroll through my social media feeds, I decided to focus on: What is the motivation behind posting foodtogaphy across various social media networks?
I interviewed people from my internship, people who shared and people who didn’t share. The group that didn’t share fascinated me the most. It turns out they either used to share or were sharing – only privately. Christine Spiteri, who I dubbed an undercover foodie, said “Just as I wouldn’t go out to dinner with 500 random people, I think eating with someone is something you do with people you care about; it’s very intimate.” I never really considered foodtography as being impersonal. Having a meal has become a social activity – as opposed to providing sustenance, some argue that foodtography ruins the intimate aspect since some are more concerned with taking perfect photos than engaging in conversations.
My results were as expected and similar to motivations for sharing information on social media. People wanted to show off if they made something, or display what restaurant they are at, or virtually share their meals with friends.
Since I’ve finished my thesis, I’ve seen a lot of articles about foodtography and our appetites. Some believe since we are obsessed with taking photos, we end up eating less. Christine and I continue our conversations about foodtography and she recently wrote an article about it for the Times of Malta. You can read it here.
What do you think? Are you sick of foodtography or an avid proponent? Either way – happy eating!