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Does taking food photos bother customers or staff?


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#31 David A. Goldfarb

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Posted 14 March 2012 - 02:25 AM

Holly--One reason you may want to shoot RAW is access to more convenient tools for non-destructive editing, which is particularly useful when you can't control the light. Personally, I like a less saturated look, but if you like more color saturation, it's easy enough to bump it up, presuming you are starting from a reasonably accurate white balance and exposure. RAW lets you adjust the white balance easily after the fact on a calibrated monitor, if you have one, without losing any information in the original file.

Exposure you need to get right when you're shooting. Look at the histogram display to make sure you're not clipping your highlights or letting the shadows get blocked up. If you can see both ends of the curve, you'll have room to adjust the exposure later.

#32 daydayxvi

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Posted 11 April 2012 - 11:30 AM

So far I have not had any problems with taking pictures of my food. As a general rule I avoid using flash on the basis that the picture will really suck if I do. This is not a photo shoot, this is my meal. So I try to be as quick and discreet as I can either with my DSLR or my iPhone. At the end of the day the pictures are for my and my readers enjoyment, not to hang on a wall.

My friends are so used to it by now that when we go out to eat they always let me snap a quick picture before digging in but that's about as obtrusive as it gets. There's no whine of the flash charging, no bright lights and most of the time there's not even the signature "click" of the picture being taken. Camera's are much quieter now than they used to be so as long as you're not making a big show about the pictures you're taking I can't imagine it being a problem.

One of my best fixes has been one of those tiny table top tripods. That way I can use natural light even in a low light condition.
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#33 Lindacakes

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Posted 11 April 2012 - 12:22 PM

I tried to capture my first food appearance (a cookie with an elaborate system of dough folding in Sicily) as a pen drawing on a napkin. It was so remarkable, I just had to capture it. And then I realized . . . wait . . . I can just take a picture . . . doh . . . then I started taking pictures of the food that matters to me -- pastry, cakes, cookies, remarkable decorating ideas, etc.

I suppose someone might think I'm going to copy it (I'd rather try to improve upon it) and get hairy, but that's never been so, even in Paris.

In Sardinia, I asked permission first, and then took a photo of every single one of dozens of cookies. And effusively complimented the baker.

I suppose this is my way of documenting sugar of the world, and why not? These are artworks and deserve to be admired as much as the architecture.

One of my sub-genres is decorating with candied fruit and nuts. I collect 'em all. Maybe I'll make trading cards . . .
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#34 Mjx

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Posted 11 April 2012 - 10:45 PM

An added two cents from me: Recently had lunch at Osteria Francescana, and did take pictures. I asked first, although the one early arrival from the party at a nearby table already had his iPhone out, and was snapping away. The waiter looked surprised, ever-so-faintly amused that I asked (and this place has three Michelin stars, it isn't a scenester hang-out/packed with Yelpies). We didn't fuss over the pictures, just pointed and shot, so they aren't brilliant images, but they were taken simply as something to reminisce over, to show friends and family, when we were enthusing about the meal.

No one showed any sign of being bothered by our taking pictures (I particularly watched staff--especially the chef--for the tiniest sign of even suppressed displeasure, and was cheerfully prepared to stop, should it manifest; it didn't), but then again, three of the four parties present were taking pictures (for those curious about the demographics: all appeared to be between 35 and 55, and were French/Italian speaking), and this was lunch, which tends to be more casual than dinner.

The diners' photography behaviour was consistent with their general behaviour: The quiet table was unobtrusively taking pictures of plates, the more exuberant (this is relative, no one was actually making a row) table was a bit more obvious, took more pictures of the members of the party, the decor.

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#35 lesliec

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Posted 12 April 2012 - 08:17 PM

Relevant YouTube clip

Phones are coming out with ever-better cameras. My Xperia Arc has one of the fastest lenses (f2.4) I've heard of on a phone - one of the main reasons I chose it - and makes a great job of restaurant photos. As daydayxvi said, we're now able to avoid shutter noises, and with faster lenses flash is just not necessary (quite apart from it making the plates look awful. Brightly-lit, but awful).

If you're discreet and don't bother other diners, I can see little objection to doing anything you like with your food once it's on the table.

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#36 ScottyBoy

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Posted 12 April 2012 - 10:27 PM

Yeah as long as there's no flash I find it rather flattering really...
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#37 david goodfellow

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Posted 13 April 2012 - 12:25 AM

Interesting thread this.

I photograph all of our restaurant meals, and never use flash. I have a dslr camera which is just too bulky and obvious that I never use it. Besides which some of the tables are so small there is no room for it.
My weapon of choice is a little Canon S95 which is one of the best point and shoot cameras on the market. Its discrete, quick and simple, so in no time at all, I can take my photos and then in moments we can get down to the real business, which is enjoying the food.
Never once have I detected any whiff of objection, in fact most people seem to be enjoying their own company/food to bother with anyone else.
We have been in high end places where boorish people have spoilt our meal somewhat with flash photography and high spirited behavior but no one has said anything. Loud, selfish, overbearing people are the ones who cause offence in restaurants, not the quiet couple in the corner taking a few snaps of the food.

Btw, don't let anyone kid you along that chefs don't like you taking photos of their food. They love it. Its free advertising and I have had a number of chefs compliment me about mine.

Happy snapping :smile:

#38 SobaAddict70

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Posted 07 May 2012 - 02:28 PM

Btw, don't let anyone kid you along that chefs don't like you taking photos of their food. They love it. Its free advertising and I have had a number of chefs compliment me about mine.


Mmm, there is at least one place I know of here in NYC where food photography and note-taking can get you banned from the establishment.

I'm going to one such place at the end of this month.

It's a safe bet that I won't be taking pix at dinner. :laugh:

These days, I don't shoot food in restaurants at all, since I prefer to work under conditions I can control. Not possible in a social setting.

#39 PSmith

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Posted 14 August 2012 - 05:39 AM

Now I am a bit of an anti food blogger. Partly because we were disturbed once in a nice restaurant by someone on the next table taking photos of everyone's plate with his oversized digital SLR.

Now to me a meal is an experience, it is not just the food, but the atmosphere and the company and I don't need photos of my dinner to be remember the event.

What is the inside view on people taking photos of their plates. Can you take it too far (I have heard of diners with tripods and videoing serving staff). Is a discreet photo with a compact without flash acceptable?

I have noticed that professional food critics rely on their writing skills alone. They may use a PR supplied photo or a photo of the venue.

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#40 weinoo

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Posted 14 August 2012 - 05:50 AM

Now I am a bit of an anti food blogger. Partly because we were disturbed once in a nice restaurant by someone on the next table taking photos of everyone's plate with his oversized digital SLR.

Now to me a meal is an experience, it is not just the food, but the atmosphere and the company and I don't need photos of my dinner to be remember the event.

What is the inside view on people taking photos of their plates. Can you take it too far (I have heard of diners with tripods and videoing serving staff). Is a discreet photo with a compact without flash acceptable?

I have noticed that professional food critics rely on their writing skills alone. They may use a PR supplied photo or a photo of the venue.


I take photos and don't bother anyone. The alleged tripod/video thing sounds a little suspect to me.
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#41 PSmith

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Posted 14 August 2012 - 06:03 AM

I take photos and don't bother anyone. The alleged tripod/video thing sounds a little suspect to me.


One poster in the UK forum actually admitted to videoing the server without asking for permission. See the response by the owner "The Greek"

http://forums.egulle...e/page__st__330

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#42 Dave Hatfield

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Posted 14 August 2012 - 06:24 AM

Weinoo

"I take photos and don't bother anyone. The alleged tripod/video thing sounds a little suspect to me."

How do you know? Maybe people are just too polite to say anything.

#43 tino27

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Posted 14 August 2012 - 06:40 AM

I completely agree that taking someone's picture or a video of them without their permission is rude and obnoxious. Using a flash is rude and obnoxious (and not particularly effective). Insisting on taking pictures of everyone else's dish at your table is obnoxious.

However, I fail to understand how sitting silently and alone at a table by myself (or with others who don't have an issue with it) with my camera and possibly my compact tabletop tripod taking ambient light pictures of only my own food can cause grief to others at surrounding tables. I think the biggest reaction I've elicited so far from other diners has been curiosity.
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#44 weinoo

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Posted 14 August 2012 - 07:03 AM

Weinoo

"I take photos and don't bother anyone. The alleged tripod/video thing sounds a little suspect to me."

How do you know? Maybe people are just too polite to say anything.


This is NYC. No one is too polite to not say anything.
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#45 Mjx

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Posted 14 August 2012 - 07:46 AM

I tend to be bothered by pretty much everything, but discreet photography in a restaurant isn't one of those things.

By 'discreet' I mean you only take pictures of the food on/people at your table (okay, I can understand the urge to take that big group that includes the waiter, which is a tradition that apparently goes as far back as photgraphy), you don't engage in moves that encroach on diners at other tables (if I keep wondering if or when you're going to back into me, I'm going to become irritable), and you don't use flash. That last one is probably open to debate: I find a flash going off like a slap across the eyes (but as I said, pretty much everty damn thing bothers me, so).

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#46 PSmith

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Posted 14 August 2012 - 08:07 AM

MJX - pretty much my view.

Small compact camera, no flash, is fine - anything more is rude.

However it is not something that I personally would feel comfortable doing and would see it as bad form if you are dining with others as a social occasion. Nearly as bad as using a phone at the table and actually I would get pretty miffed if someone in my party wanted to photograph everyone's plate.

I know a lot of food bloggers rely on photos for their reports, but, I would feel pretty self-concious about taking photos of plated meals rather than tucking in and enjoying the food.

Edited by PSmith, 14 August 2012 - 08:08 AM.

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#47 Hassouni

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Posted 14 August 2012 - 08:33 AM

I happily take flash-free, silent pictures at the table with my iPhone - my foodblog was all done on the 4S - but I would feel very awkward with an SLR or something like that. If people want to use them at their own tables, it doesn't bother me, but loads of flash certainly does

#48 Holly Moore

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Posted 14 August 2012 - 08:52 AM

A dining room is not a chapel. People talk loudly. Tables sing "Happy Birthday." Diners snap photographs. All part of dining out. It is a balance of the level of dining, the judgement of the diner taking pictures and the tolerance/sensativity neighboring diners.
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#49 Toliver

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Posted 14 August 2012 - 09:48 AM

What if they had been taking pictures of each other (say it was a birthday celebration) intead of the food? Would it be just as annoying and rude? Or is that a forgivable sin?
Life's too short to be upset by something so picayune.

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#50 PSmith

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Posted 14 August 2012 - 12:10 PM

What if they had been taking pictures of each other (say it was a birthday celebration) intead of the food? Would it be just as annoying and rude? Or is that a forgivable sin?
Life's too short to be upset by something so picayune.


Rarely do people take photos of each other while they are eating but usually wait until a course has finished. Plus it tends to be a one off photograph rather than an ongoing thing every time a plate is brought to the table. Additionally, often in that situation the waiter or waitress is usually willing to take a photo - and sometimes have offered (as they did in the 360 in Toronto) - so the disruption is minimal.

It does also depend on the venue. Some venues are more designed for a quiet intimate meal rather than a raucous birthday party.

As I said, I don't have a problem with people using a compact without flash, but we experienced someone standing up, shuffling around the table with his digital SLR.

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#51 gfweb

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Posted 14 August 2012 - 12:30 PM

One or two flashes...no big deal. But repeated flash shots are annoying and selfish.

#52 ChrisTaylor

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Posted 14 August 2012 - 01:38 PM

As well as all the social media stuff--the democratisation of food criticism, Facebook posts, eG threads--isn't it also a natural response to how food is presented (which in turn feeds off the increasing number of shutter-happy diners)? Look at cookbooks from Noma, French Laundry, Marque, Quay, Fat Duck, 11 MP and so on. It's not just neat and uncluttered: at it's best it can serve as a very temporary form of visual art.

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#53 Holly Moore

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Posted 14 August 2012 - 02:36 PM

I might have suggested this before elsewhere, but given the number of guests toting cameras and cell phones, restaurants with low lighting and the space might consider setting aside a room or area so picture takes can shoot away without disturbing more solemn diners.
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#54 ScottyBoy

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Posted 14 August 2012 - 03:23 PM

Me and my little camera just got back from chicago, photos of everything I ate. A quick shot with no flash before the dish might get cold is great I think. I share my pictures and descriptions with everyone and it's just free advertising for the restaurant. And I'm always quite flattered when someone takes a picture of something I've plated.

Edit: A giant DSLR is a little over the top however.

Edited by ScottyBoy, 14 August 2012 - 03:24 PM.

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#55 eldereno

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Posted 14 August 2012 - 06:29 PM

I have to admit that on my recent trip to Napa Valley, San Francisco, and Monterey Bay I took photos of the food I and my friends had (did it as quickly and discreetly as I could). My eating experiences are some of my most memorable and I wish to share them with my friends and family. I ate at Auberge De Soleil, Bouchon, and Flour and Water to name a few. WOW! I don't expect to eat that well again for a long time! Will longingly look at those photos for years to come. And I am not a food blogger!
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#56 ScottyBoy

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Posted 14 August 2012 - 07:31 PM

Thing is about a food picture once I see one that I took I can remember the dish, ingredients and flavors completely. If I was to describe a dinner to some someone instead of saying "oh there was a foie dish, lobster and a peach cake" I can show a picture and describe each element.
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#57 Andrew

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Posted 15 August 2012 - 09:49 AM


I take photos and don't bother anyone. The alleged tripod/video thing sounds a little suspect to me.


One poster in the UK forum actually admitted to videoing the server without asking for permission. See the response by the owner "The Greek"

http://forums.egulle...e/page__st__330


I think you'll find that he is referring to a 'dictation machine' rather than a video recorder when the chef talks about recording what the server says the dishes are.

I sometimes take photos on my iphone although my skills (I wouldn't dream of blaming the camera!) are such that they are rarely worth posting online. I have no objections to others taking photos of the food. I do object to flashes and of people taking photos of me without consent. I really can't see the fuss about a quick photo of a plate of food. Personally there is a lot more that is offensive that goes on in restaurants by diners.......

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#58 philadining

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Posted 15 August 2012 - 01:56 PM

With the ubiquity of cell-phone cameras and easily-pocketable point-and-shoots, it seems to me that people are taking pictures of practically everything these days, and posting them immediately to Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, wherever. There's little self-consciousness about flashes, about whether bystanders actually want to be in your shot, especially when it's being posted publicly... I find much of that quite annoying, and that's usually just people taking pictures of each other. As many have already stated, it's more a matter of courtesy and consideration: if you can do it without bothering anyone, what could they possibly complain about? But if you are making a scene: using flash, or making noise, or putting yourself or some equipment in someone else's personal space, or invading people's privacy, well you're just being obnoxious.

I've been shooting pictures of my food for years, often with a DSLR, and I try very hard to be quick and discrete. I used to get weird looks from servers and owners, but photographing one's food has become so common now that it's completely unremarkable. I used to get questions about what I was doing, now I usually get advice about what the best angle is, or a request for a copy of the photos.

If the light is good, an iPhone or other small camera can do remarkably well, but in lower light, an SLR is much more useful. It's possible to shoot quickly and not cause a disturbance, even with a big camera. People just need to be conscious of everyone around them, any try not to be jerks...

Now, if we can just eliminate the true menace of modern pop photography: subjecting your food photos to washed-out-yet over-saturated Instagram filters, we'd be getting somewhere. No, making your sandwich photo appear to be a long-lost Polaroid that's been left on the dashboard for 10 years does NOT make it more appealing...

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#59 PSmith

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Posted 31 August 2012 - 06:00 AM

Seems that GQ Magazine are having a rant about the food photographers

http://www.gq.com/en...mming-your-food

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#60 rotuts

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Posted 23 January 2013 - 07:11 AM

many people here take pics of their restaurant experience. Im a big fan of this on my end as Im sure many of us are. after all, I wont be going to many any of those places soon. and its great fun!

here is an interesting take on this from the NYTimes:

http://www.nytimes.c...ref=dining&_r=0