Some say that we eat first with our eyes. An interesting concept, and when you look at volume of images, videos and other content on the web surrounding the topic of “food”, it’s easy to see why this might just be true.
With the evolution of food blogs and social media platforms, it may seem like we’ve reached the peak, but the 2.1 million photos uploaded to Instagram last year are merely a culmination of two centuries of our fascination with food photography. Susan Bright, author, and curator of the book “Feast for the Eyes,” has tracked the evolution of food photography through the years, and stated that today’s experimentalism in food photography seduces the viewer in another way altogether.
So, with that said, let’s look at five trends in food photography and styling that we see as gaining even greater traction in 2022.
1: Let’s Get Messy!
Perfection fatigue is real. We’re told how to look better, feel better, act better, save better, do better. It’s no wonder we crave authenticity and transparency. Images of half-eaten dishes, dinner plates stacked up in a sink post-meal, kitchen messes, crumbs and wayward bits of food all illustrate the pleasure, process, and joy of cooking. We embrace the persona and realness of the kitchen. Food is honest, so embrace this trend in all its messy, delicious glory.
2: Tell Your Story with Color
There’s a story behind every color, and we have food to thank for many of our color names (just think of mint green as one example). This next era of food photography will see images incorporating colors in more interesting and arresting ways that bring out the texture in food or highlight one element in a dish.
3: Props as the Hero
Props are a key element in food photography. Increasingly, photographers are experimenting with unusual props that create abstract and high-concept food images, such as cool take on the time-honored still-life, but instead showing partially eaten items. This trend sees photographers instilling a sense of play and fun into their images. Always remember, food is fun, so have fun creating images with it.
4: Futuristic Food
The world is becoming futuristic. The images we take of food in 2022 may reflect our changing reality. But exactly what might this look like?
Perhaps it is heirloom seeds being preserved in a cryo chamber for future generations. Or a documentary-style image that call attention to eco-friendly and sustainable packaging. Perhaps it’s frozen food: as we look to convenience, reducing waste, and increasing our self-sufficiency in this next decade of uncertainty and turmoil, fresh, flash-frozen foods may replace what we see in our modern pantry.
5: People Can Make the Difference
Yes, food is something we eat, but often we overlook that it’s something created
by people. Documenting the people behind food is a trend that cemented itself with the rise of cooking shows. But the next iteration of this is highlighting people not typically shown in the limelight: the humble and hardworking farmers, producers, chefs, stylists, and artisans that spend the time creating this magic.
To Wrap it Up
No matter how you decide to photograph your food- whether it’s ugly, honest, highly stylized, or abstract—it still must look delicious. Food can’t look fake. In fact, food photography should exude an effortless look because, after all, we eat first with our eyes.