Lunchtime photography: Put down the sandwich long enough to shoot it

Megan Snider

Posted August 13, 2010 in: How To  Techniques 

Everyone is busy. We all have clothes to wash and dry, dishes to scrub, floors to vacuum and cars to gas up. Our families need us; our friends are calling us. Significant others want to cuddle up and chat with us. We have obligations, it seems, to everything and everyone—and sometimes, all we want is a little down time.

Lunchtime PhotographySadly, most of us are not independently wealthy—and have to punch the clock at our day jobs when we’d much rather be out in the sunshine shooting pictures of our grandkids, butterflies or scenery. As a 9-to-5 office worker, I spend most of my time at a desk in a windowless space, where it can be hard to tell night from day or day from night. I live for my lunch breaks, those tiny snatches of time when I can go off the grid and do just what I want to do—whether that’s taking myself out for lunch, reading a book or surfing the Internet.

Lunch breaks, too, are an excellent time to get in some photography. In the whirlwind that is our daily lives, these hours are our own individual chances to do something fun—to step away from the keyboard. And if you bring your camera along for the ride? To shoot.

Lunchtime PhotographyNo matter how fast-paced your job might be, everyone needs to eat. And if you can spare fifteen, thirty or sixty minutes for a meal, why not go ahead and document it? It’s amazing how much you can accomplish on a lunch hour. And it’s amazing how different the world can look after you’ve photographed it in a new way.

With my point-and-shoot Panasonic in hand, suddenly the tin of colorful paperclips near my monitor looks like a prickly mountain range. When I switch to a macro setting, the highlighters in my chipped mug, too, become a subject of fascination. Think about doing a series of “lunchtime” photos—a special project showcasing how you spend your break. Maybe that means snapping shots of your lunch fresh from the microwave, or the tattered paperback you read in your free time. Zoom in on the words. Get your lunch in the background. If I’m at my desk, I’m taking “office macros”—something I love so much, I’ve done a whole series of them.

Lunchtime PhotographyWith a photographer’s eye, nothing is too mundane to document. Tap into your artistic sense and look for colors, patterns and textures in unusual places—like the corkboard on the wall, or the carpet around your chair. Think about documenting how you spend one hour—just that one hour—of your day, a time reserved for eating, chatting or wandering. Change up the settings on your camera and be different. If you only ever take color photos, why not switch to black and white—or get really wild, shooting instead in sepia? When you step out of your normal shooting habits, everything becomes more interesting. Even turning your camera to the left or the right skews your “ordinary” viewpoint, forcing you to frame shots in a different way.

So snap a shot of your turkey sandwich. Catch your coworkers mid-sentence, peeking at you over your cubicle walls. Get in macro and photograph your own frantic handwriting, scrawled on Post-It notes around your screen. You’ll be surprised at the results you get—and how relaxed you become. Taking pictures of the things—even tiny things—that matter to you . . . then bask in your own creative genius. I promise you, it’s there.


About Megan Snider - Megan Snider is an amateur photographer from Waldorf, Md., who started taking photos after receiving a point-and-shoot camera just days before she left on an Italian vacation. Growing up in front of the lens, she now shares her passion for photography with her mother, Lisa, who is never without her Canon.


This is a great article! How many times have I thought "there are not enough hours in the day" - but really a matter of using the ones that are there better.

Comment from Guy Stephens on August 13, 2010

Very interesting pictures. You are right, there are always amazing things to be photographed if we take the time to look. Love the food pictures! Nice job!

Comment from Lynne Stephens on August 28, 2010

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