This thesis employs quantitative content analysis to investigate how social media influencers use aesthetic image design to engage followers. The study investigates the ten most-followed food influencers on Instagram in the United States. The study looks at the effectiveness of visual framing strategies, focusing on the images (N = 120) of influencers which have received more than 10,000 likes in 2017. Results show that food influencers prefer to post images about cooked food, without any decorations, using high contrast colors and close-up shots. Raw food images were found to be associated with cluttered composition and far away shoots, whereas cooked food images were associated with high contrast and close-up, especially the top-down camera angle. An instructive perspective emphasizes the importance of considering how food can be accommodated within the framework of a meal, and it regards taste as an approach to describing aesthetic norms. Concerning the presentation, the gestures, and the presentation of the meal, food provides a new way that helps people to think and constitute social relations. The author offers a theoretical account of food influencers’ strategies to summarize how the exercise of taste marks a significant omission in our understanding of visual analysis regarding social capital and aesthetic discrimination. This study represents a step toward a more cogent and digital-focused aspect of visual framing. The results imply benefits that would accrue to companies with interesting approaches to develop communication strategies linked to food. The effects of image-based dietary communication provide implications for visual communication to replicate and expand upon the successes of the influencers in the public interest. The results also have implications for advertising and the use of social media within marketing.

Library of Congress Subject Headings

Photography of food; Food photographers; Instagram (Firm); Content analysis (Communication)

Publication Date


Document Type


Student Type


Degree Name

Communication and Media Technologies (MS)

Department, Program, or Center

School of Communication (CLA)


Jonathan Schroeder

Advisor/Committee Member

Duygu Akdevelioglu

Advisor/Committee Member

Ammina Kothari


RIT – Main Campus

Plan Codes