Since the birth of Instagram in 2010, nearly 250 million photographs have been uploaded under the hashtag ‘#food’. In response, the internet is flooded with posts on how to take better pictures of your food. These tips range from the obvious, like using natural light, to the same techniques employed by marketing companies and professional photographers. With people willing to risk their food going cold for likes, the obsession is real, but why?
Perhaps people Instagram their food because they think it’s a discreet bragging technique. Instead of the explicit old school Facebook location check-in, boasting anbout how they’re at said place with said people, they can subtly camouflage their boasting with a pretty picture. Maybe the obsession has a simpler explanation: we just want to take a modern moment to appreciate our food. Think of it as the secular version of saying grace. Taking a picture allows our eyes and nose to experience the meal before we taste it.
We are not obsessed with Instagramming our food, we are obsessed with taking photos of things that we know people will like.
Food posts provide the photographer with a richer experience of their food but they also provide a distinct pleasure for the viewer. Food is vital to humanity and connects us in ways that no other type of Instagram post can. I might never go see the Grand Canyon, have that beach body or be able to afford that car but I can recreate your avocado on toast. Of all the content on Instagram, food is by far the most reproducible. We are not obsessed with Instagramming our food, we are obsessed with taking photos of things that we know people will like. The obsession is fueled by a need to eat, and an even greater need to be relatable.