The real winner in our obsession with food photography

How did you find out about your favourite breakfast haunt?

Was it a recommendation from a friend, or did you stumble across it by coincidence?

Or, like most, did you happen upon it whilst scrolling Instagram?

Food photography has become something of a phenomenon thanks to photo-sharing sites like Instagram and Snapchat. A well-plated dish will barely make it to the table before it is being artfully shot from a bird’s eye view and shared with a network of friends.

Whether it’s shared by an Instagram user, a food blogger, a business (such as a restaurant), or a professional chef; food photos are showing no sign of slowing down in popularity. But it is not only the photogenic dish being celebrated: thanks to our food-infatuation, restaurants are now gleefully revelling in free publicity.

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The consumer mentality is easy enough to understand: in the age of oversharing, people are willing and enthusiastic to share their location. In the same way Facebook’s ‘check in’ functionality enjoyed brief but impressive success, Instagram’s hashtagging or location tagging function serves the same purpose. The 300 million monthly Instagram users don’t just want you to know they’re out for dinner: they want you to know where, when, and what they ate, too.

Social media publishing platform Hootsuite recently revealed that “posts tagged with a location receive 79 percent higher engagement”. Trend-driven locations such as pop-up bars, food trucks, and hole-in-the-wall cafes are all enjoying wide reaching publicity that they otherwise could not have afforded.

More than just tagging location, people just want to share food in general. The Instagram statistics speak for themselves: there are almost 50 million photos tagged #dinner, 1.6 million photos tagged #italianfood, and 800,000 posts tagged #finedining. Whether you’re in a restaurant, cooking at home, or ordering in take-away, it seems we can’t wait to share before we eat.

But it is the specific tags that are seeing the restaurants see specific returns - and the results aren’t specific to the business size. Smaller businesses as well as international chains are enjoying equal successes...depending on their photogenic qualities, of course!

Recently launched doughnut shop, ‘Doughnut Time’ rolled out a massive social media launch across Australia, and already has over 16,000 tags on Instagram. Yet local burger institution Huxtaburger in Melbourne, with no social media launch and only 5 stores, is almost halfway there was 8,000 tags to date.

Our local social media demographic is showing no signs of slowing down with our ‘don’t start before I get a photo’ attitude. Food is the fourth most popular topic to be snapped on Instagram, with a massive 36% of Australia’s Insta-activity focused around what we are eating.

The New York Times  were onto it way back in 2010, when they hit the nail on it’s well-plated head:

"In 1825, the French philosopher and gourmand Jean Anthelme Brillat-Savarin wrote, “Tell me what you eat, and I will tell you what you are.” Today, people are showing the world what they eat by photographing every meal, revealing themselves perhaps more vividly than they might by merely reciting the names of appetizers and entrees."

So, what does your food say about you?
 

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