Kirsty Presents: Home Cooked Photography

A friend of some friends has the curious habit of taking a photograph of every meal he eats.  Whether he is at home or dining out, no matter the occasion, he takes out his camera and makes a record of that which he is about to eat.

Bunya Nuts

Our mutual friends discuss this individual’s practice as part of a continuum of OCD behaviour on his part, but I can’t recall their deliberations ever extending to reveal what he does with the photos he produces.

On my own, I have contemplated his apparently obsessive desire to take photos of his meals. 


First of all I wonder about the logistics of taking the photos. What kind of camera does he have? Or does he use a mobile phone?  When he’s in public  or dining at a friend’s is he concerned that he might be breaching social etiquette by producing his camera at an inopportune moment? At home, does he have to contend with irritated loved ones who just want to start eating before the meal goes cold?


Perhaps the meal doesn’t have a chance to go cold.  That possibility would suggest he cared about the quality of the photo he was producing due either to another dimension of his already compulsive behaviour or the knowledge that the photos would be seen by others, who might bring some understanding of ‘quality’ to their judgement of them.

As someone who occasionally blogs about my own meal experiences and who likes to accompany any rumination on culinary feats (either shopping, cooking or eating) with pictorial evidence, I’ll admit that I’m slightly intrigued by the proposition of taking a photo of every meal I eat.  As a study in the everyday it appeals to me. What kind of picture would emerge over time? What narratives would be wrought?

Sesame Toffee

Here, I’m reminded of the Paul Auster/Wayne Wang film, Smoke, where a tobacconist, Augie, takes a photo of the corner outside of his shop at the same time everyday.  He places them in an album and looks through them from time to time, observing the shifts of people and seasons just outside his door.


Doing a similar project with meals would, in an affluent country such as Australia, lend occasion for more variation in the photographs taken than those in the Auster/Wang film.  And, since the advent of blogging, the impulse to post the photographs online would be overwhelming; it’s the stuff of those 365 Blogs whose authors seek to self-impose discipline and post everyday for a year.


Imagine the stories, not of culinary or photographic expertise, but of meals prepared and eaten: shared and alone, on holidays, remembered from childhood, exotic and plain, old favourites and new discoveries, experiments and failures, for comfort, health, and taste, and, indeed, for very much more.



#1 Zoe on 30.06.08 at 1:13 pm

At least since starting a food blog I get less weird looks from Owen when I take a picture of my dinner ; )

And food blogs are certainly spreading the urge to snap, to the point where one New York restaurant has recently banned photos.

#2 Liam on 30.06.08 at 1:22 pm

Not as wierd as the look you’d get, Zoe, if you photographed a string bag full of garlic and then ate the cloves, one by one, with Milo.
Cool post, K.

#3 kate on 30.06.08 at 1:31 pm

I have taken photos of produce, and of cooking in progress, but never of the meal ready on the plate. I always feel more motivated to eat it.

We certainly wont have any photographs of every single meal around here. There are only so many early morning Weetbix shots the world needs.

#4 Kirsty Presents: Home Cooked Photography on 30.06.08 at 2:12 pm

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#5 Cristy on 30.06.08 at 2:48 pm

I tried to photograph our cooked meals regularly for a while (for blogging purposes) and even tried to take them outside for better light and geez it gets annoying.

The impatience of my toddler were only just compensated for by the tolerance of my partner (since he is also my partner in blogging crime).

As Kate mentioned, however, regular breakfast photos are unlikely to ever be worthwhile in our household.

#6 Kirsty on 30.06.08 at 3:11 pm

I know someone who has glasses with a camera in them–a perfectly balanced individual, I assure you. That would get around the mobile phone bans, although perhaps the fact that they are sunglasses would be a give away. Hmmm, this is sounding creepier the more I think about it. Anyway, that link didn’t work for me Zoe and I must know who isn’t letting people take mementos of their meals home.

Liam, I’ll have you know that garlic-milo combo was served with a side of beetroot relish.

Kate, it occurred to me while I was trawling through the photos on my blog that I tend to be more of an ingredient photo taker as well, or maybe it was just that the ingredient photos looked more appealing because I took the time to photograph them, whereas with a finished meal, I’m the one who is too impatient to wait while I get a decent picture.

Cristy, the weet-bix at 7am is sounding an awful lot like Augie’s project …

#7 Zoe on 30.06.08 at 3:40 pm

Grr, I think the no follow tags keep breaking the links. Will sort something out, but in the meantime it’s at

#8 Liam (Going For The Obvious Joke) on 30.06.08 at 4:56 pm

I have taken photos of produce, and of cooking in progress, but never of the meal ready on the plate.

Now we have almost every step in the gastronomic process; the only thing left is ColonCam™.

#9 Zoe on 30.06.08 at 5:47 pm

I think you’re looking for a site called “rate my poo” Liam, but I ain’t searching for it …

#10 Oanh on 02.07.08 at 7:19 am

Great post!

I’m still too nervous to take photos at restaurants. And now I have an enormous camera, rather than a subtle one.

I love the idea of a narrative told through everyday photos of the same event occuring every day – there would be more of a narrative emerging from photos of weet-bix than of multiple different dinners at fancy restaurants.

Saveur link takes me to a recipe?

#11 Zoe on 02.07.08 at 8:41 am

Yes, Oanh, and a good one. I promise there’s nothing to fear!

#12 Helen on 06.07.08 at 2:25 pm

Cristy, your food photos were delicious, I mean beautiful. Don’t stop doing it!

#13 St33v on 10.07.08 at 7:35 pm

Hi there,

I like taking pix of nice looking food at restaurants. I have sometimes felt a bit awkward but no-one has seemed to mind. And sometimes the pix are beautiful. A ‘before and after’ pair of a flounder is a joy to behold.

Like anything though, a good idea turned into a compulsion soon becomes a bore (to this little red hen).

#14 St33v on 05.08.08 at 1:03 am

Maybe you could combine meal-of-the-day pix wiht lolcatz captions? Just a thought..

St33vs last blog post at…Frog in the pond

#15 Kirsty on 05.08.08 at 10:31 am

Hmm, not a bad thought at all.

Kirstys last blog post at…Anxious

#16 Zoe on 06.08.08 at 8:28 pm

Are you sure it wouldn’t get a little monotonous?

nom spice

nom terrine

nom nom nom

#17 spend time on 31.07.14 at 9:37 pm

Thanks for finally talking about > Kirsty Presents: Home Cooked Photography – Progressive Dinner Party < Liked it!

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