Nearly four years ago when I started this blog, I thought about - and wrote about - my ambivalent feelings towards food photography. At that point, I was decidedly outside the camp of the "douchebags taking pictures of their food." Not that I had any problem with other people doing it, if done discreetly - indeed, I've always thoroughly enjoyed viewing the work product of talented photographers like A Life Worth Eating and Ulterior Epicure and Chuck Eats and Doc Sconz. I just knew I wasn't in that group and wasn't sure, even if I had such skills, that I wanted to be.
Four years later, I still feel like a complete hack of a photographer, but I'm a less reluctant one. I still don't particularly love taking pictures during a meal, but I'm grateful for having done so after the fact, to have something tangible by which to memorialize and in some ways relive the experience. There is truth to the saying that "We eat first with our eyes."
But for every gorgeous picture that captures the beauty and savor of a great dish, there are a dozen blurry, overexposed, flash-saturated, Instagram-filtered abominations that are the opposite of appetizing. I don't want to be one of those. So, if for no other reason than to honor the work of the chefs whose dishes I photograph, I have tried to improve my skills. I've learned what some of the different controls on my camera do. I bought a decent point-and-shoot with a larger sensor and a brighter lens that can shoot better in low-light situations. I even started to figure out how to use a real DSLR, when Frod Jr. got one for his birthday and generously loaned it out to me from time to time.
But while I've started doing it occasionally, and I love the results when I can actually operate it right, I still bristle at hauling around a big DSLR camera and lens, and often feel clumsy and awkward using it at the dinner table. So when I was approached by Flavorpill and Sony to participate in a new project of theirs that they call "The Hidden" cultural campaign, it was tough to turn down. Here's the deal: they give me a Sony NEX-5R camera to shoot pictures around South Florida; I tell you about it; after a few weeks, a portfolio of the pictures goes up at a local Sony Store, which you can go visit and check out; and, yes, I get to keep the camera, a pretty nifty looking job with a compact frame but DSLR features and interchangeable lenses.
Now, you may note there's never been any advertising on this site. I can count on one hand the number of "media preview" dinners I've attended, and there are even fewer that I've subsequently written about (and always with full disclosure). Hopefully you know by now that I have never accepted a free meal in order to write about a restaurant, and I'm not about to start.
So what's with the camera? Well, I'm a food writer, not a photography writer. My opinions about cameras ought to mean bupkus to you (and aren't really being sought by Sony anyway, for that matter). It has nothing to do with the opinions that anyone might pay any attention to, so I hope it's not seen as compromising my credibility. And I appreciate that the deal with Sony actually requires me to disclose in any postings that I've been compensated by Sony. Listen, if this blog starts to look like a Top Chef episode, with product placements for canned soft drinks, frozen dinners and tin foil, just let me know.
And hopefully, I'll start taking better pictures, which would be win-win for everyone.
 Incidentally - and this piece of info is completely unsolicited, I swear - there is a pretty great sale going on right now at the Aventura Sony Store, which is clearing out inventory in advance of a remodeling of the showroom. They were selling the KDL55EX640, a 55" LED TV, for $910, which is hundreds of dollars cheaper than I see it advertised anywhere else.