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AL GILKES: ‘Foodtographers’ beware


AL GILKES: ‘Foodtographers’ beware

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ARE YOU ONE OF THOSE PERSONS who, from the moment a plate of food lands on the table, snatches your cellphone and photographs everything you are eating to post on Instagram so everybody can see what you are having for breakfast, lunch, dinner, a snack or a drink?

I know such a person, who happens to be a daughter but whose identify I will not reveal because she works with me. She, I am convinced, enjoys the look of her food and drink in a pic on Instagram more than she does the mouth-watering taste.

But I have some news for her and all other “foodtographers”. It has to do with the fact that Google, the same Google of the search engine fame, is working on new artificial intelligence that will use “sophisticated deep learning algorithms” to analyse a photograph of food and determine how many calories are on your plate.

The technology is called Im2Calories and it identifies what kind of food you are eating, gauges the size of the food in relation to the plate as well as any condiments and then calculates the estimated calorie count.

But don’t get too scared about being embarrassed when your friends and other contacts are able to google how many calories you are consuming.

The creator, one Kevin Murphy, insists that the aim of the technology is not to shame you all but to enable you to keep a “food diary”.

People are concerned that this artificial intelligence will take all the fun (?) out of Instagram “foodtography” because they fear that virtually putting a calorie counter on every ingredient on a glass will take all the joy out from eating and drinking.

Coinciding with that news is a report from the New York Times that some better known chefs in the Big Apple are growing fed up with and are cracking down on “foodtographers”. Some, like the owner of the famed Chef’s Table at Brooklyn Fare, Moe Issa, have already put a ban on food photography in their restaurants altogether.

He told the Times, “Some people are arrogant about it. They don’t understand why. We explain that we want the people around to enjoy their meal. They pay a lot of money for this meal. It became a distraction even for the chef.”

So if you must whisk out your phone or camera in order to Instagram everything you eat and drink, the advice to you is not to make a production out of it. Be as discreet as possible. Don’t stretch across the table. Try not to stand. And try not to use a flash. If the restaurant, or wherever it is that you are eating, is well lit, that’s fine. Take a few snaps and move on with your meal. If it’s dark, flashing your food may be annoying to others eating around you.

But why do you have to take a photo of everything you eat every day?

If you must, one critic advises: “Limit yourself to plates that are funky-looking or in some weird lighting. Instagram has become overloaded with pictures of what people are eating or what their cat is doing. If you’re just snapping away and posting everything, you might as well be taking vacation photos.”

Now poor me will be in Miami this week with Barbados Hotel & Tourism Association personnel and the members of the Barbados culinary team for the annual Taste Of The Caribbean competition.

Guess who will be with me?

She who loves nothing better than posting pics of her food and drink on Instagram.

Al Gilkes heads a public relations firm. Email [email protected]