Thursday, July 10, 2014

#VeggieDag Thursday. Taking photos of your food.

VeggieDag Thursday
VeggieDag Thursday is an occasional Thursday post
on an animal-free diet and ecological issues.

That taking-pictures-of-your-food thing. Is it food snobbery? Dining boorishness? Here's what celebrity chef Anthony Bourdain —never at a loss for words— had to say on the topic:
Look, I’m guilty of it, too. I think it’s worth making fun of. We deserve to be mocked. It’s a dysfunctional, even aggressive practice. Why do we Instagram pictures of our food? It’s not to share. It’s to make other people feel really bad. … It’s basically a f— you. You say, “Look what I’m eating, bitches.” You don’t want people to be eating dinner with you when you Instagram a picture of your food. You want them to be eating a bag of Cheetos on their couch in their underpants. It’s a passive aggressive act.

That said, I do it all the time.

Me, too, Anthony. Especially of vegetarian dishes.

But maybe I'm also engaging in a bit of non-meat-eating advocacy. And maybe I'm doing a bit to praise those chefs who 'veg' creatively, when, more often than not, I encounter the opposite. (Veggie burgers? Salads? Pretzels? Really? Come on...)

And, yes, okay, maybe I am engaging in some 'so-there-ishness.'

At her blog Healthy. Happy. Life., author/blogger/vegan Kathy Patalsky proffers a list of 15 food photography tips for amateur photographer/bloggers like me, accompanied with vegetarian food photography, done gorgeously.

I've uploaded twenty-four thousand photos to Flickr (not all of food!), but I'm a poseur not an artist, and often violate these 'rules.' Now and again, however, I do get lucky: when the lighting is right, when I focus correctly, when the meal is beautiful or interesting, and when I take the shot with a 'good' camera. (Even though cell-phone cameras these days can capture good photos, I use an Olympus Pen E-PL1, a not quite point-and-shoot digital camera, not quite DSLR camera, but good 'enough' for me.)

Here's an image I took at a beer-pairing dinner in early July, at Lyon Hall, a brasserie-styled restaurant in Arlington, Virginia. Chef Matt Hill created several vegetarian options for me, tasty and creatively appealing. This was the sweet pea agnolotti with an herb salsa verde.

Sweet Pea Agnolotti

Now, here's Ms. Patalsky on food photography:
Warning! Dear artists, read my tips with an open mind. As an artist myself I am incredibly passionate about not having too many rules when it comes to critiquing any sort of art - paintings, photography, music, writing and more. I'm with you. There is really no right or wrong way of producing art. So my number one tip to you is to take these tips with a grain of salt...

Now before you proceed you'll want to make sure you have three things:
  • a good camera
  • lovely lighting
  • beautiful food to photograph

As to "lovely lighting": compare the photo, below, of a cauliflower 'cutlet' —lit with flash (and posed at probably too overhead of an angle)— with the agnolotti, above —illuminated by the light of a setting-sun through the windows. Night and day, so to speak.

Vegetarian 4th course

Read all fifteen of Kathy Patalsky's useful, and relatively painless, tips for bloggers: here. And, then consider one more tip: be polite to your fellow diners.

  • More photos from that beer dinner: here.
  • Camera: Olympus Pen E-PL1.
  • Caveat lector: As a representative for Select Wines, Inc. —a wine and beer wholesaler in northern Virginia— I sell the beers of Abita Brewing.

  • Why the name VeggieDag Thursday? Here.
  • Read all the posts: here. Follow on Twitter with hashtag: #VeggieDag.
  • Suggestions and submissions from chefs, writers, and home-cooks welcomed! Contact me here.

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