Social Media Etiquette: Is It Ever Okay…to Postpone Dinner While You Take a Photo?


How long can you make your friends wait to eat while you take the perfect shot? I hate myself at the time, but sometimes it takes a while. —Self-loathing Layla

1.5 minutes.

Any advice for getting the perfect food shot? I only have 1.5 minutes! —Blurry Benicio

Crowd-sourced from people with WAY more followers than I:

  • Get to a window or take it outside. Natural light above all.

  • Overhead shots are the safest.

  • Shoot on a neutral surface that isn’t too dark (so we can see the food clearly).

  • Take a bite of food to make it more “lived in.”

  • If your silverware is reflecting you taking your photo, move it.

  • Always keep Instagram’s 4:5 ratio in mind, which really just means that you should shoot vertically.

  • Add elements that give a sense of place or tell the story behind a dish (the grass you’re picnicking on, Grandma’s recipe card…).

Illustrations by Cari Vander Yacht

Can I post a photo of plain cottage cheese eaten straight from the container? That’s what I ate today. —Zealous Zahra

Large or small curd? Just curious. I think large is better. If it will make you happy, post it.

Are you obligated to share a recipe if you post a delicious pic of something you cooked? —Indifferent Ira

Instagram makes it cumbersome to share links for nonbusiness accounts, and even those are annoying (who likes the likeshop?). You should happily assume that if you cook something and share it, you’re inspiring someone else out there in the universe to make it too. Cool! Make it easy on them. Give them the info they need to find it on Google or write “GOOGLE ‘super moist chocolate mocha cake’ for the recipe!” in the caption.

Illustrations by Cari Vander Yacht

Is it rude to comment, “This looks gnarly, but I’m sure it tastes GREAT!”? —Cheerful Chandler

Once I posted a photo of a cherry pie with a cutout-hole crust pattern and was swarmed with angry commenters freaking out about their hole phobia being triggered. AAH LOOK AWAY, they screamed. GONNA FALL IN THE HOLE AND DIE, they all-capped. It’s a real thing. It’s called trypophobia. I thought the pie was beautiful!! I was kinda hurt, on behalf of the pie. People transfer their emotions to the food they cook, so when you call out the hideous plop of corn pudding on my plate, I’m immediately concluding you think I live a hideous, ploppy life. And maybe I do! You’ll certainly never find out from my Instagram! Save your criticism for the New York Review of Books and instead simply comment, “That looks delicious.” Just do that. For the love of God, please just do that.



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