While many roll their eyes when people stand on a seat to snap a photo of their meal, it’s worth remembering that food photography has a long history—one that predates Instagram by over 150 years. And, as Susan Bright (author of Feast for the Eyes: The Story of Food in Photography and co-curator of the current exhibition of the same name) says, it’s not about food; it’s about human identity and values. It used to also be about practicality, as in the early stages of photography, food was an easy subject. “It was a really easy way to say, ‘Look, photography is art,'” Bright says. Find out more about the history of food photography—from still life to snaps for social media, cookbook photography and beyond—at Wired.