Looks like we can chalk up the surge in online food photos to good ol' narcissism. Digital marketing agency 360i recently conducted a study of food pictures posted to Flickr and broke down the distribution of photo types as well as pervasive trends. The most common type of photo? “Food diaries,” photographs with no other use than to catalog a day's meals. The second most common? “Documenting self-creation: showing off a finished product, or the process of creation.” Almost half the photos studied fell within these two categories.

There's some fun data to be looked at here — that consumers are the most likely to take pictures of desserts, followed by vegetables, and that dinner is overwhelmingly the meal of choice to be photographed — along with some unintentional humor and unscientific observations peppered throughout. Exactly 420 pictures were chosen, though the selection process remains a mystery, and the reasonings behind their findings are sometimes headscratchers. Their idea that because “vegetables are necessary but sometimes boring, people may want to show off their vegetable dishes when they make something more appetizing and colorful” seems to disregard the fact that few foods are more colorful and vibrant than vegetables.

Their categorizations are also unclear. “Food art” makes up 12% of the food photo distribution, but it's unclear how it was determined that the “focus of the photo is artistic,” which is the defining factor in its categorization.

Mashable's pie chart of 360i's findings; Credit: www.mashable.com

Mashable's pie chart of 360i's findings; Credit: www.mashable.com

360i presents these findings to show potential clients that only 12% of photos currently include clearly branded material, with the potential for far greater advertising opportunities. As reported by Mashable, another study by 360i reported that people are only in 10% of the photos they post online.

This most recent study also comes as a kind of follow-up to Pixable's study of Facebook photos from a few months previous, which came up with some surprising findings: that 6 billion photos — that's billion with a giant “B” — are uploaded each month to the social networking site and that women have “twice as many looks, uploads, and tags” as men. Right. Your thoughts on the subject?

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