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Are You Gonna Tweat That?

Are You Gonna Tweat That?
"Foodtography" is taking over the internet scene. Read on for more about local Cincinnatians partaking in this new foodie trend and where you can get in on it, too.

 

In terms of what usually dominates everyday conversation, food ranks right up there with the weather, celebrity gossip, movies and Facebook. Not only is it a daily ritual for most of us, but it's also a very shareable experience that – with the help of simple technology – often broadens the notion of gathering around the table. You're probably aware of some of the common tools out there, like Yelp!, UrbanSpoon and the bazillion mobile apps, that make food discovery easier and more enjoyable. But are you familiar with the broader phenomenon of foodtography?

 

It's new and mysterious enough that it doesn't have an entry on Wikipedia, but it is quickly becoming an intriguing way for people to combine their love of food with the ease and immediacy of mobile technology. The result? Lots and lots of photos of truly authentic cuisine.

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At least once a month, 52 percent of mobile users take photos with their phones, and 19 percent upload them to the web. People no longer just talk about the food they eat: They're also photographing it. And there are enough of them out there to support niche websites, like Foodspotting and Tastespotting, which were founded on the idea that "we eat first with our eyes," as Tastespotting puts it.

 

Case in point: There's a guy named Ryan Cayabyab, who is currently the top foodspotter in Cincinnati, with 332 uploaded images and 118 "noms," or recommendations. His most recent post is the Big Mac-N-Cheeseburger from Walnut Street Grill, which includes the description, "You'll need to unlock your jaw like a python to eat this burger, but it's well worth it."

 

Photoblogging apps like Instagram, Tumblr and the now photo-enabled versions of Foursquare and Twitter are likely to further fuel this trend. And let's not forget about Facebook, which now accounts for four percent of every photo ever taken.

 

So, what do people get out of sharing all of these photos on such a frequent basis? Another local "foodtographer" named Matt Morris says he believes that "a good food picture is worth a thousand bytes," and his tools of choice are Facebook, Flickr, Foursquare and Yelp!. Morris travels a lot for work, so he has an opportunity to try restaurants and dishes from all over the country. Rather than just describe what he eats to family and friends, he uploads a quick snapshot – it's more real, and it adds some depth and validity to what he's experiencing, he says. In other words, foodtography has become an important piece of Matt's digital diary.

 

As someone on the sidelines, one of the more intriguing aspects of the foodtography trend is that you're able to get a true glimpse of a particular restaurant's food without having to pay a personal visit; this is a far cry from how restaurants have traditionally marketed their menu items - like the burger on a billboard with perfect layer after perfect layer. It never looks that way when it's actually served, yet they continue to pretend we won't recognize the difference. Thanks to foodtographers like Ryan and Matt, the curtain has been pulled back a bit.

 

Whether you're someone who is stuck going to the same old restaurants and trying the same menu item or an adventurist who frequently tests the limits of his or her taste buds, leverage foodtography to make the most of every dining experience. Bon appetit!

 

Note: Article first published on Cincinnati Profile on October 10, 2011.


 

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