Amateur Food Porn Has Got To Stop

"We eat with our eyes," Iliana Regan told me, "and then it travels to our brain, and we love the sensation of the taste and the hot. I think it does a lot for the senses." Pretty steamy, right? Food is sexy. There can be no doubt. But just like sex, it's not always pretty. And in food and sex alike, humans love to take pictures.

There are laws about the sex part, but food is not censored in our society. The temptation is strong in the smartphone age to share our daily deeds with the world. It makes them less mundane. Meals are miraculous, really. Food is sacred. It gives life. But the rest of us on the Internet aren't at the table with you. We can't taste how good it is. Sometimes, if the light's not quite right, or you're too close up, what feels really good to you might look really gross to us.

RWW's Curt Hopkins: "Good lord, man. That's the slop pail from a Burmese hospital."

This is just intended as a friendly tip. We would never presume to dictate what kinds of fun are or are not allowed. We just have some... let's call them aesthetic concerns about the lack of aesthetic concern sometimes sorely needed before posting a photo of food. It's food, remember? It's supposed to look delicious. It may taste delicious, but your Instagram followers, who don't get to taste it, might lose their appetites if you're not careful.

Food porn can be exceedingly pleasant. Professional photographers with solid equipment can make even everyday meals look irresistible. The website FoodPornDaily features one new shot every day, and they're invariably good enough to make you say "MMMMMMmmmmmmm." Iliana Regan has talented photographers capture the food she creates, and her images are lovely.

But a smartphone sensor won't always do it justice, and Instagram filters tend to turn things very brown. Just something to keep in mind.

"All pictures of food on social media look like the street next to a major university on Sunday morning."
 - Curt Hopkins
"The key is good post-processing," says ReadWriteWeb webmaster Jared Smith, "and not just slapping an Instagram filter on. This digs to a deeper issue. Instagram has introduced a lot of people to photography that otherwise probably wouldn't participate. They get into the filters and the like."

"Punk as fuck," replies production editor Curt Hopkins. "And I like that. EXCEPT FOR FOOD."

"There have been amateur photos of everything from crimes being committed to mountains to ladies to flowers that have been lovely, arresting, striking," Hopkins says. "But there has not been one single amateur picture of food on a social media site that does not look like a pile of grey-beige recycled meatloaf. This includes lobster and cake."

Joe 'Zonker' Brockmeier has an important counterpoint. "You put them in your feed," he reminds us. "You followed them."

"I unfollow people for this all the time," I reply, "but there are some people whose tastes I mostly like, or who are my friends, and I don't want to miss out on their lives."

"It's like getting gross-rolled."
 - John Paul Titlow
"You have to take the good and bad, then," Brockmeier says. "Just saying - if a friend of mine is like 'I don't like cat pictures, stop posting them to Facebook,' my response is, 'You can unfriend me if you want. This is my feed. I'll post whatever makes me happy.' Now, if the cat pic is my cat licking herself, you might have a more valid criticism."

What we are responding to here is the photo-culinary equivalent of cats licking their butts. The Web is a wonderful place to share photos. Lord knows there are enough ways to do it. But before you tweet your breakfast, take a look at the photo. Savor it. Then ask yourself, "Does this look good enough to eat?"

Check out Curt and Jon's Tumblr documenting the ongoing horribleness of this phenomenon, Amateur Food Porn Has Got To Stop!

Feel free to agree or disagree in the comments.

Disclosure: Iliana Regan is the creator of the Chicago underground supper club One Sister, for which ReadWriteWeb's Alicia Eler has done some social media consulting in the past.

Lead photo by Iliana Regan

Photo 2 by Jon Mitchell

Photo 3 by Simon Mayo, found in Twitter's top image search results for "stroganoff"

Photo 4 (the good one) by Jennifer Moran

Photo 5 by Joel Sierra, found in Twitter's top image search results for "sushi"

Photo 6 by Nabila Huda