Canada

'Food porn' photo style prompts backlash from food stylists

It's often dubbed "food porn," but you may have noticed that food photography has changed over the years. You'll often see someone, smartphone in hand, carefully holding the phone above the table, snapping a photo of a meal before digging in.

Photographers move away from overhead shots in favour of a style reminiscent of the 1970s

Many Instagram and other social media feeds are filled with this style of overhead food shot. It's a trend that may be on the way out. (Tiroko-chan/Flickr)

Whether you want to actually cook the recipes in a cookbook is often beside the point. These days, the food photography is enough to make mouths water, without actually stepping into the kitchen.

It's often dubbed "food porn," but you may have noticed that food photography has changed over the years. You'll often see someone, smartphone in hand, carefully holding the phone above the table, snapping a photo of a meal before digging in.

Moments later, the photo  a shot-from-above plate of food — is on Instagram or some food blog. That amateur food photo, a bird's eye view of a plate, has become the universal language of food porn these days.

It's a style that's gone from blogs and Instagram to the professional world. Recent covers on food magazines like Bon Appetit, Saveur and Lucky Peach are all shot from above.

Theo Vamvounakis is a prop stylist who works with food photographers to create images. She said people can't help but be inspired in their style of shooting based on the food pictures they scroll through on social media.

A few weeks ago, she helped create a photo for the New York Times that was straight out of the 1970s, complete with a floral tablecloth, a big, leafy plant in the background, and the soup in a shiny copper bowl.

"I think it's one of the most magical decades," Vamvounakis said. "I think perhaps visually … in a lot of ways, people make light of the '70s."

A 1970s-inspired photo style may soon be filling your Instagram feed. (brownwindsor/Flickr)
From elaborate tables, shot from the side in the '
70sto minimal plates photographed from above these days, Vamvounakis said it has to do with the influence of amateurs.

Taking a photo from above means you don't need to worry about the background.  You can hide your messy kitchen, kid's toys and the hand-me-down kitchen table.

Vamvounakis said, for her anyway, there is a compulsion to stay away from that style.

"I feel like I shoot less overhead as a reaction to there being so much overhead work. That's the natural ebb and flow of our lives … to be in the midst of so much of one thing, it forces you to do something you haven't been doing," she said. 

And for Vamvounakisthat thing that no one was doing was 1970s-style food shots. And you might begin seeing more of them, as the trademark blogger and Instagram overhead shot itself becomes a bit of a joke.

Comments

To encourage thoughtful and respectful conversations, first and last names will appear with each submission to CBC/Radio-Canada's online communities (except in children and youth-oriented communities). Pseudonyms will no longer be permitted.

By submitting a comment, you accept that CBC has the right to reproduce and publish that comment in whole or in part, in any manner CBC chooses. Please note that CBC does not endorse the opinions expressed in comments. Comments on this story are moderated according to our Submission Guidelines. Comments are welcome while open. We reserve the right to close comments at any time.