I like to tell stories. I also like listening to stories – funny one, sad ones, delicious ones, I am all ears! Lately, food stories have been of particular interest to me, probably because in my attempts to write more for this blog, I find myself listening a bit more too and really searching for stories.
I read an editorial recently where the author was begging people to stop taking pictures of their food. The ease with which we can take photos these days, using cameras in phones and quickly uploading to email, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram certainly does make it a lot easier to tell people what you’re doing, or eating, at any time. Why do we feel the need to share this part of our life experience with others? Is it sharing? Is it art? Or is it just lazy-person storytelling?
I for one am an avid participant in what many call “food porn”. I love to document the amazing meals and food experiences I’ve had and share them with others, just like I enjoy the voyage I get to take when people post pictures of their food adventures. Recently I decided that it would be nice to have the skills to craft some images slightly nicer than my Blackberry can produce.
I took my second-hand DSLR and assortment of lenses one Saturday morning to a restaurant in Bermondsey and spent the day with food phog extraordinaire Paul Winch-Furness at #PhotoPopUp. In addition to his professional work as a photographer, Paul runs small photography classes that focus on food in a variety of restaurants, cafes and markets and it had always been on my list of things to try out one day.
What an experience! After a few hours of chatting with my classmates and going over the basics – and getting reacquainted with those pesky F-stops that one tends to forget when the fully automatic settings are so darn easy to use – Paul ordered a variety of dishes from the menu, pulled out some brightly coloured accessories for dressing the tables, and away we went.
Having the chance to photograph beautifully plated dishes that I didn’t have to slave over in the first place was a real treat – it was a nice change from being exhausted and hungry as I usually am during these types of photo shoots. Anyone seeking to pimp their food photos should take one of Paul’s fantastic classes. A couple of my best pics from that day are below.
Is food photography a bit of a cheat when it comes to telling food stories? I think I’ll have to disagree. Should we spend more time talking about food, telling others about our experiences, sharing our food stories? Absolutely. Stories can take any number of forms, from a quick pic on a camera phone to a handwritten recipe passed down from a family member. The key is to keep telling those stories, in as many ways as possible, as often as possible. The history of what we like to eat is a story worth telling, in any way you choose to do so.