The power of images to catch our eye, make us hungry and stir emotion

Masterchef is fond of saying, “We eat with our eyes first”, but there is actually research to back it up.  Many studies have shown that when we find food more appealing, not only do we enjoy it more we also absorb more nutrients from it (weird huh?!).  Subsequent studies have validated this finding!

I follow Jamie Oliver on instagram because I enjoy torturing myself, he puts up great images of food and really cute pics of his gorgeous family. I find pictures of food to be so appealing that if I see something that looks amazing and I’m hungry, I have to drop everything and go and eat it. This is the powerful effect of #foodporn.

Gelato Messina in Sydney are another tortuous example:

 Peanut butter gelato with chocolate brownie and dulce de leche… NEED IT NOW!
Blackforest: Chocolate gelato with kirsch soaked choc sponge, cream and cherry jam… WHO ARE THESE MAGIC PEOPLE?

Also, my favourite restaurant in the world, Hartsyard in Enmore (Sydney AUSTRALIA) constantly put up great images, these are some of my favourites (hope you’re not hungry!):
Famous fried chicken with buttermilk biscuit, low country sausage gravy…
House made duck prosciutto, rye crisps, endive, beets and horseradish cream.
Screen Shot 2013-05-29 at 11.10.20 AM
Chocolate and caramel pie with peanut biscuit base, flourless chocolate cake, dark chocolate and caramel mousse, carrot marmalade and salted popcorn ice cream.

YOU HAVE TO GET TO HARTSYARD! SERIOUSLY! My fav restaurant in Sydney. 

Anyway. Why put up these photos?

Firstly, I am super hungry! Secondly I wanted to point out this act that has become a great marketing tool and social media and blogging and ‘folk journalism’ (see previous post on blogging) tool. It is no doubt that Instagram has taken off, with about 83% (not real figures) of all Instagram traffic being food related images. Many restaurants have taken to posting images of their food, especially if their menu changes a lot, on different social media platforms – it is a good idea because even if it’s not a $10,000 camera it can still look good, mainly because the dishes look so good.

This esquire report here find the negatives of it, and there are plenty of people (my mum for example) who find it annoying. But phooey to them – get with the times, this isn’t the 60s, this is the digital revolution, and you’re either with it or you’re not. We are in the VISUAL age – people my age, let alone even younger, have short attention spans. I think this is why I much prefer reading online and struggle nowadays to do my academic readings. This is why my generation and I  love PHOTOS because, as they say, a photo tells 1000 words – we are VISUAL sponges, we area a visual generation (and the digital generation, and the millennial generation etc…)

I believe that headings, images and layout is one of, if not THE most important for newspapers to invite the audience in, if you have a dedicated reader who has been reading SMH for decades then maybe not, but these are the most eye catching things, especially pictures. But that’s just me, I think visually.

The difference between photojournalism and amateur instagramalism is, according to one of our readings, a photojournalist: “must only photograph what has happened, when it happened and not recreate a situation because they didn’t get there on time.  They must not move things around on the scene of an event to make the pictures look better.   They must not alter their photographs on the computer or in the darkroom, like take an ugly telephone pole out of a picture.  The photojournalist must also tell the truth, just like the reporter.”

Where as your average instagrammer will edit and make things look pretty all the time with filters and blurs. Obviously there is a difference between a magazine/feature image and a news image. I was photographed for a feature I was mentioned in on Internships by Fenella Souter last year for Good Weekend. Trust me, that photography session was VERY planned (2 hours it took for one photo), and it looks it. They said they were only going to grab a quick headshot!

Why are photos so important? This site here explains that photos are needed to:

  • Brighten the page <– most important to catch attention
  • tell the news <– most important for quick readers
  • show what the thing/situation/scene looks like <– most important for in-depth readers wanting an image for clarification/visual reference

The recent event of the Boston Bombings was interesting because there were many chances to get photos as there were already lots of photographers there, and many photos were certainly got, ones which are now ‘iconic’, and many which are extremely graphic. Images of masses of blood, missing limbs, limbs hanging off, open flesh wounds – perhaps doesn’t seem that bad after watching a few episodes of Game of Thrones (that said I can’t even watch movie/tv gore) – but why were these images allowed to go up?

Thankfully most have warnings of graphic content so I have been able to avoid it, but thanks to high-definition cameras it just looks really gross, would images like these have been allowed to circulate in the past? was there a difference between what was printed and what went online? How would it feel to go from being sent out on a boring marathon race to covering a terrorist attack? CNN go into it a bit interviewing one photographer John Tlumacki, and another personal recount of his here, in which he tells of a police officer saying to him: “Do me a favor. Do not exploit the situation.”

That is another good question – at what point did photojournalism turn into the paparazzi? or did they always mutually exist? And then of course there is the age old question: when do photographers go too far? Incidents like the paparazzo who was run over and killed while snapping Justin Bieber’s ferrari (ironically he wasn’t even in it), or Princess Diana’s death (although there were other reasons as well). But there are many indications that this won’t happen anytime soon. 

Now I thought I’d finish with some BAD examples of photo/headline layouts:

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There are plenty more where that came from


 But here are some of the more memorable ones. In Australian media I tend to find the tabloids (Sun Herald, Herald Sun, Telegraph etc) use lots of big dramatic headings and images, and they tend to write in a sensationalist tone. I also find the shorter the heading, the more dramatic it is.

images-1 Herald_Sun_6_4_2013 images

These are mostly American, talk about bad news but they are eye catching.

uk-newspaper-headlines-9-11-attack titanic Screen Shot 2013-05-29 at 1.12.18 PM dailynews-239x300

More here

Now to end the post for today, seeing as we’re talking about eye-catching, I thought I would add a video of a SUPER CUTE KITTEN, being easy on the eyes. This clip, being true to the blog name, involved a kitten and a teacup. Smothered. With cuteness.